|New owner takes over local Ford dealership|
|Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor|
Aug. 18, 2006 -- After several years of ownership by Ford Motor Company, Sulphur Springs Ford has a new owner.
Brian Toliver, formerly of Sweetwater, closed the purchase of the car dealership on Thursday.
"I purchased the Ford Motor Company franchise and the new name is Brian Toliver Ford Lincoln Mercury," Toliver said. "This has been a business that has been owned by Ford Motor Company for several years."
Toliver's move to Sulphur Springs comes after he sold his new car dealership, Toliver Auto Plaza in Sweetwater.
Toliver said before making the decision to come to Sulphur Springs, he had looked all over the state.
"We have been working on it for several months, but finally signed the contract Thursday, and the sale is closed," he said.
Although the sale of the auto dealership was not consummated until Thursday, Toliver said he and his family had already made a commitment to Sulphur Springs.
Brian Toliver is being joined in the dealership by his son, Brent, who has worked for several dealerships in the Dallas area.
After moving to their new home in June, Toliver's wife Leesa, accepted a position with Sulphur Springs Independent School District as director of special services. Brent's wife, Susan, who is also an educator, is employed at Travis Elementary School as an English as a Second Language teacher.
In Sweetwater, Brian Toliver served on the board of that city's economic development effort as a vice president and as both a member and board member of Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce for nine years, along with active participation in other community organizations.
Both Brian and Brent Toliver said they were looking forward to taking an active role in Sulphur Springs.
"We are very fortunate to be in East Texas. We think it is a good area and holds a real good future for our family," Toliver said. "We knew this was going to be a growing area, a great place to live. It's our kind of people."
The Tolivers literally grew in the new car business. The Toliver family owns the Toliver Group in West Central Texas, with new car dealerships in Haskell and Sweetwater in the Abilene area and in Ballinger in the San Angelo area.
"I am a third-generation dealer," he said. "My father just received a 50-year continuous ownership recognition, and I started working for my father when I got out of college. I then opened a dealership in Sweetwater in 1989."
In the highly competitive business of selling new cars, Toliver's philosophy is to put the customer first.
"The thing that separates the different dealerships is how well you take care of the customer, how well you treat that customer during their ownership of the vehicle they purchased from you," he said. "From sales, service, finance and everything, that customer has to have a good feeling with the dealership throughout that ownership."
The Mazda name was dropped from the dealership when that franchise was not for sale.