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City Icon Ashley Ford Celebrates 50 Years of Excellence

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by Joe Silvia

Five years success in a business is a major milestone. Fifty years of successful business borders on epic and doesn’t happen by accident. That is something that has to be carefully crafted, orchestrated and designed. It has to have a solid business plan, leaders, employees, service and a fantastic product. Most important of all, it has to be community accepted and supported. You can have a superior product and people will go down the road to buy an inferior product – even pay more – because the service is better.

Ashley Ford has managed to pack all of these positive elements into one enterprise. The city icon has reached its 50th anniversary this year. How does any business succeed through economic hardship and downturn, and a few recessions? By winning the hearts and minds of the community and making it a priority. More importantly, you have to be genuine in your motivation. People can smell dishonesty and poor motive. If a business’ number one goal is to turn a buck, pat them on the back, and get them out of the way so they can work on the next sale, people will see right through it. However, if making a profit is one of your objectives, but a higher priority is to genuinely prove a needed service, you’ll have happy customers, which in turn breeds loyalty and translates to the best publicity available: word-of-mouth advertising.

 Bob Bancroft the owner of Ashley Ford.
Bob Bancroft the owner of Ashley Ford.

Ashley Ford has been successful for so long, because they are genuine about wanting to provide a service. They have old world values when it comes to salesperson and customer relationships. They comprehend the immense, business-life saving value of word-of mouth. Do a little extra, be honest in your transaction, throw in something gratis, listen to what the customer is saying he or she wants and needs, make your word bond, follow through and do exactly what you say you will do and you will find that people spread the word about their experience. This is by far and large a pivotal aspect of Ashley Ford’s success. Don’t take my word for it. Ask around. Or ask to meet owner Robert Bancroft, like I did.

I had heard a lot of positive anecdotes about Ashley Ford over the years and wondered what the deal was – pardon the pun. They are steeped deep in the community and are always in the news. They have raised and given untold thousands to local organizations. They have supported local fire and police departments, sports teams and little leagues for decades. Supported the automotive program at New Bedford Vocational School for over 25 years. They support the Better Community Living program which helps children and adults alike with disabilities. The Working Waterfront Festival, N.B. Youth Soccer Association, the Mayor’s Youth Directions program which has kids cleaning up the streets during the summer, Council on Aging, and the Festival Theater.

They proudly honor a veteran monthly with an article about him in the Sunday paper and a flag on the Old Glory Tower, on Route 18. They provided New Bedford High School with a Ford’s Drive One 4 UR School program, started in 2007 which has generated over $30,000 for Massachusetts schools and locally for New Bedford High School, New Bedford Voc., Dartmouth High, ORRHS, and Bristol Aggie. A fundraiser is also planned for Fairhaven High School next Spring. They have so much faith in their product and service that they donated money to the high school for each qualified person that took a test drive. This is a monumental amount of stuff and I haven’t even included nearly all of it.

It goes on and on and on.

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The Ford F-Series is the #1 selling truck in America (2013 Sales, Source: Automakers)

When I arrived a few minutes early for my 20-30 discussion with owner Robert, or Bob Bancroft, I was subtly entertained by 2 personable female employees. They light-heartedly joked about Bob and we all had a few chuckles. Seemed like a relaxed atmosphere. I feel that the work environment says a lot about how the business is run, so I wanted to put some feelers out anyway.

When Bob arrived, he bantered with the ladies and we went into his office. I expected a meeting with a sales pitch threaded throughout. I expected the conversation to eventually turn to how I should purchase a car. Is that paranoia? Since I was meeting the owner who worked his way to the top through every position within the company, I expected him to be a sort of Jedi salesman. You know the kind? You walk in wanting to know how much a tune-up will set you back and before you know it there is paperwork in front of you waiting to be signed?

Guess what? That 20-30 minute meeting went over 2 hours. It was 2 hours filled with enthusiasm and pride. I enjoyed my time with Bob. Bancroft has a genuine passion for the business he owns and runs in the city that he was born in. We spent the two hours discussing local kids, the high school, his employees, the neighborhoods and how they have changed, the city history, and he shared some fantastic anecdotes. Here was a living, breathing example of the maxim “Find a job you love, and you won’t work a day in your life.”

You want to know what was most curious of all? Bob asked questions. Even more curious was that he listened, and asked more. This speaks volumes. It’s a subtle declaration of how the business is run and how he treats his employees and customers. Employee attitude generally trickles down from corporate. A place full of discontent employees is typically so, because they are berated, pressured, or even bullied. They are a reflection of their leaders. If you have a leader that asks questions, listens and acts, it infects the employees. As above, so below. Through interactions with other employees, you could see that Bob’s enthusiasm and pride were contagious and infected everyone else.

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Bob’s father had already built up the company by the time he arrived in 1975 and started as a service writer. He loved the city, the people, the community, the history and the business so stayed and worked his way up through various managerial positions. He served as Vice President, before buying out his father and becoming the owner in 2003. Yes, it went from Bancroft to Bancroft, father to son. Coincidentally, Bob had mentioned that word-of-mouth for that dealership didn’t just extend to friends of customers and the general community, but to subsequent generations. Parents were loyal customers of Ashley Ford, and eventually their sons and daughters followed.

This was certainly a modern business that was founded on old-world values, saw their crucial role in success, so retained them to this day. It WORKS. 50 years doesn’t happen by accident. You have to do something right. A lot of something right.


Ashley Ford is currently in the midst of a 50th Anniversary Sale. You can browse many of their cars right online or better yet stop there in person.

Ashley Ford (Sales & Service)
395 Mount Pleasant Street
New Bedford, Massachusetts 02746
(508) 996-5611

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashleyfordsales
Website: http://ashleyfordsales.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AshleyFordNB


About Joe Silvia

When Joe isn't writing, he's coaching people to punch each other in the face. He enjoys ancient cultures, dead and living languages, cooking, benching 999#s, and saving the elderly, babies and puppies from burning buildings. While he enjoys long walks on the beach, he will not be your alarm clock, because he's no ding-a-ling.

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