In fact, Williams is proud that longtime co-worker, Charles R. “Rusty” Ford of Paradise, has been promoted to general sales manager of the Decatur GM dealership. He had been its sales manager in charge of Buick and formerly Pontiac since 1996.
Ford, age 46, will fill the position left vacant Sept. 14 by the unexpected death of Roy Young, who was 49. Young had been with the dealership for 26 years. He was named Decatur’s Citizen of the Year posthumously Saturday by the Chamber of Commerce. James Wood received that honor in 1988.
Replacing Ford will be Lanny Loesch, 51, who lives between Springtown and Weatherford. He comes to James Wood with a background of performing similar duties at Jerry’s Buick-GMC and a reputation as an innovator.
Ford is the son of Patsy and the late Charles Ford of Decatur. The civic leaders operated Russell’s Department Store and the Clothes Hanger for decades.
A 1984 graduate of Decatur High School, Rusty Ford received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Texas Tech University in 1989. Although he had planned to teach or become a county extension agent, Ford’s first job after graduation was as an engineering assistant for the state highway department, his summer employer while in college.
By 1992, the personable Ford was selling cars at a GM dealership at Tahoka. He joined his current employer as a salesperson at James Wood’s Denton Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealership on Jan. 6, 1993.
Ford became its GMC truck manager in 1995 and transferred to Decatur a year later.
He married Johna Tackel of Paradise in 1994. They have a son, Brayden, 14, and a daughter, Addyson, 11. Mrs. Ford is a counselor at Paradise Junior High School.
Ford is in his second term on the Paradise school board and is a past director of the Decatur Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m thankful to the Wood family for this opportunity,” Ford told the Messenger. “Maintaining the standard set by Roy Young will be a real challenge. He was the hardest-working man I’ve ever known, and he was as loyal a person as you could ever have.”
Williams said that Ford has earned the promotion. “He is a super leader and motivator for our sales team,” the executive manager said. “Rusty has done an excellent job handling the Buick part of our operation, and he quietly assumed a lot of duties following our painful loss.”
Denny Aldridge, one of Ford’s former supervisors, described him as “our kind of people. He has known how the James Wood way works from day one.” Aldridge is Buick-GMC executive manager in Denton.
Williams said that the dealership’s newest employee should be a good fit.
“Lanny Loesch brings a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge,” he pointed out. “He brings fresh ideas.”
Like so many of Wood’s employees, Loesch didn’t start his career in the car business.
He trained quarterhorses for 18 years and came to Texas in 1993 when the Trinity Meadows track near Weatherford was gearing up for top-tier horse racing. That dream died two years later.
Soon, the only horsepower Loesch dealt with was under the hood of the Grand Prixs he was selling at Mac Churchill Pontiac in far west Fort Worth. He was with Frank Kent dealerships for a decade before working for Jerry’s as a manager for eight years.
Loesch has a son, Tyler, 16, and a daughter, Breanne, 22.
“I made the move to James Wood because of its history and longevity (Wood became a GM dealer in 1978),” Loesch said. “I’ve received a warm welcome, and I really enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.”
“I hope it will be the dealership I retire from someday,” he noted.
Now a trainer of automobile salespersons, Loesch believes that “as a manager you are still a salesperson. I won’t ask any employee to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”
Loesch considers it essential for a dealership to “treat each deal as a separate deal. I believe that is the secret to retaining customers. You must be willing to adjust what you offer to them because we are here to meet their specific needs.”
James Wood Motors is noted for its remarkable customer loyalty, which Roy Young and literally hundreds of co-workers had labored to build over three decades. The Ford in James Wood GM’s future predicts that with “this great staff, our dealership will continue to grow.
“It’s been a wonderful place to work and a great place to buy a car,” he said. “I don’t see that changing.”