Wilbur Ford to continue maintaining rich tradition

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Wilbur Ford to continue maintaining rich tradition

By Mike Van Sickle
Union editor

For over 65 years, customers have wheeled into Wilbur Ford in downtown West Union to purchase top-of-the-line automobiles and receive reliable service. 

After attaining 100-percent ownership of Wilbur Ford Sales and Service on March 1, proprietor Tommy Thompson and his staff plan to maintain the business’s strong tradition. Thompson’s management team includes Wes Crawford, service manager, and Sarah Blocker, office manager.

“All of us here at Wilbur Ford are looking forward to continuing to provide the same friendly, quality service to both our longtime and new customers,” said, Thompson, who was first employed with the Ford/Lincoln dealership in 1994.   

The late Earl Wilbur sold his stock in Wilbur Ford Sales and Service to Thompson and Wayne Havenstrite in November 2002. Another Wilbur employee, Verl Timm, had previously sold his stock in the company in March 2002.

While no longer offering body work services, Thompson stressed that the new and used car dealership will continue to provide full mechanical parts and services.

“I would like to especially thank all of our loyal customers over the years. They are definitely behind the success and longevity that Wilbur Ford Sales and Service has enjoyed over the years,” Thompson closed.

A part of

West Union’s history

Earl and Al Wilbur agreed to start their own Ford dealership in West Union in 1946. Gus Ritzlaff, a former Des Moines Ford Motor Company executive, helped the two brothers secure the local dealership. 

The dealership first opened where the former North Fayette bus barn was located in downtown West Union and received over 150 requests for new automobiles.

The property north of the current showroom was purchased in 1959, and a 120' x 36' parts and service repair building was constructed. The lot north of the service building was purchased from John Nagel in the fall of 1970, and the former Wilbur Body Shop was founded.

Following the Methodist Church fire in 1979, Earl purchased the lot and parsonage located across the street from the dealership. In addition to falling victim to a fire in November of that same year, disaster struck once again in 1992 as an explosion and fire destroyed the service department building. 

Wilbur Ford was inducted into the Iowa Automobile Hall of Fame in 1996 for its “outstanding and meritorious service to Iowa's automobile industry.”

 

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