The lot sits empty — for now. But there may be cars for sale again soon at Springfield Ford.
The dealership is in the midst of a sale to a new owner and the transaction may be finished soon, pending approval from Ford Motor Company.
“We’re in the process of selling the dealership,” said Harry Maun, who currently owns Springfield Ford.
Maun would not disclose to whom he is selling the dealership. Maun noted that the empty lot is part of the sale process as the new owner brings in a new inventory of cars.
“It looks bad for the public,” he said. “But it looks good for the dealer.”
Maun sold all but 36 cars in the dealership’s stock before taking the rest to auction.
The Maun family bought the dealership in 1985, purchasing it from the Kight family.
“It’s been profitable all these years, until recently,” Harry Maun said.
Springfield Ford’s television commercials through the years have been a staple on local airwaves, right down to the “who do you know wants to buy a Ford in Springfield, Georgia?” spoken by Harry’s father the late Hans Maun.
“Those definitely put us on the map,” Harry Maun said of the spots. “We were selling 20-24 cars a month. The second month (of the commercials), we jumped to over 100 vehicles a month.”
The roots of the dealership stretch back to Ramsey Motor Company, which sold Model-T Fords and Maytag appliances, Maun said, housed in an old railroad station in Springfield.
Springfield Ford has been in Rincon since 1994 and began building its lot there in 1993.
From 1985 to 1993, Maun drove Highway 21 everyday and had a vision then of what is on the property now.
“It took us nine years to decide business was good enough to do that,” he said of moving the company to its current site. “It just took us a while to get here.”
Ford and General Motors began losing market share to the foreign automakers in 2001, Maun said. In the meantime, he expanded his facility, admitting he may have expanded too fast, and other economic factors also crippled auto sales.
“Things got worse and worse, instead of better and better,” he said.
The housing market’s collapse brought truck sales down with it, “and the gas situation made it worse,” Maun said of last year’s fuel price surges. Springfield Ford had been averaging about 15 sales a month.
He said the dealership more than held its own with $3 million in inventory, while nearby larger Ford dealers have as much as $20 million in vehicles in stock.
Maun is optimistic the dealership’s prospective new owners will survive and thrive in Effingham.
“There’s so much potential in Effingham County, and Ford Motor Company has so many wonderful products coming out in the next six months,” he said.
In fact, there may be more sales people and service technicians added because of the new fleet coming in.
“It will actually be a good thing for Effingham County,” he said.
As for himself, Maun intends to remain a part of the new dealers group.
“I’m going to stay working here,” he said. “I built it, and I don’t want to leave it. There’s a lot of people who don’t want to see it go away,” he said. “We’ll do everything in our power to make sure it stays here.”