After 80 years, family-owned Quitman Motors still running
By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
April 15, 2001
QUITMAN At one time, a family-owned Ford, Chevrolet or Chrysler dealership was a typical sight in just about every small town.
Today, with multi-state corporate interests running many dealerships, the idea of a small town, family-run car dealership is something of a rarity.
But here in Quitman, the idea still works.
Consider the case of Roy Patton III, who runs the 80-year-old Quitman Motor Co., a family-owned Ford dealership he took over from his father in 1981, who had taken it over from his father in 1947.
Over the years, Quitman Motors has met the standards set by Ford. Recently, the company was approved as a "Blue Oval Dealership," which means its facility, equipment and training made the grade.
Most of Quitman Motor's business comes from the east central Mississippi and west Alabama markets. However, "we have several customers who have moved off and come back to trade with us," Patton said.
The company was started by Patton's grandfather, the first Roy Patton, in 1922 and was located in Shubuta. "At the time, Shubuta was the biggest town between Mobile and Meridian," Patton said.
In the early 1930s, Ford shut down for period of time to retool its product from the A Model to the T Model. At that point, the Ford dealer in Quitman switched to another company, and Patton's grandfather moved his dealership into town.
At that point, the company's name was changed from Shubuta Motor Co. to Quitman Motor Co.
Patton tells the business would stay open late at the night during the Depression should a mechanical repair job come in.
Patton started working at the dealership when he was eight, cleaning up and doing assorted other chores. He returned to Quitman after graduating from college in 1972 to help out with the business until his brother graduated from college.
He didn't plan to stay. Then he married his wife, C.J., and they stayed in Quitman to raise their family.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.