Kentucky Auto Dealers in the Wall Street Journal

Kentucky Auto Dealers in the Wall Street Journal


Kate Linebaugh’s Wall Street Journal piece, “The Trials of the Auto Dealer: Long a Road to Wealth in Towns Across America, Selling Cars Has Turned Into a Struggle to Survive, Not Always Successful” includes Kentucky auto dealers.

The article begins: “LONDON, Ky. — Neither Johnny Watkins nor Elmer Gambrel had much growing up in southeastern Kentucky. Mr. Watkins’s farm home had no indoor plumbing and he plowed the fields without a tractor. Mr. Gambrel, also a farm boy, joined the Navy after school and worked at a gas station.

But both had a knack for selling cars, and both eventually built thriving dealerships, bringing them wealth their parents never knew. With the profits, Mr. Watkins bought a Florida beach condo and Mr. Gambrel a plane.

That’s where their business careers diverged. Today, Mr. Watkins’s two dealerships, selling vehicles from General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, are closed, his condo is gone and his house, now owned by a bank, has yellow-and-red ‘For Sale’ signs out front. But the Toyota dealership that was started by Mr. Gambrel, who died in 1991, continues to provide a good living for his four children…”