Bob Poole admits many car dealers â€“ whether new or used â€“ generally have a poor reputation among consumers.
Some consumers, in fact, wonâ€™t patronize some dealers because of an alleged reputation earned over the years.
In his own small way, however, Poole has tried to change that by honesty and integrity in dealing with customers.
He said mutual trust â€“ between himself and his customers â€“ are of the utmost importance.
â€œI learned that when I went to work for the old Hoyle Motor Company in Lincolnton, where Town Square Ford now sits,â€ said Poole.
Keeping oneâ€™s word is the lesson Poole lives by to this day as he owns and operates Pooleâ€™s Auto Sales in Denver.
After he left Hoyleâ€™s dealership in 1983, he decided to open his own used car lot on N.C. 16 in Denver.
The dealership was located across from Stacyâ€™s Restaurant for about 20 years.
Poole remembered a car lot located there before his dealership.
â€œThere were weeds growing around it when I called the landowner,â€ said Poole. â€œI told Doris Caldwell that I wanted to rent the lot.â€
He said Caldwell was less than enthusiastic about renting to another automobile dealership.
â€œShe remembered teaching my two girls, however, so she said sheâ€™d rent the lot to me but to never tell how much the rent was.â€
Although Caldwell eventually sold the property which now sits vacant, the secret between Poole and Caldwell remains.
While Poole has enjoyed success in selling cars â€“ he earned $200 in commissions the first two days he sold cars back in 1964 â€“ he originally wanted to sell appliances for Sears.
â€œI was working at Douglas Aircraft in Charlotte when they started laying off,â€ said Poole. â€œInstead of going to Sears, I went to work for Ray Hager in Newton.â€
Pooleâ€™s pay as a rookie car salesman was 25 percent commission and a car with gas provided.
â€œThe money I made back then was good for 64,â€ said Poole.
After only three weeks on the job, Hager approached him and offered him a management opportunity at Hagerâ€™s second lot, located in downtown Newton.
Three more weeks passed and Poole was offered a job with Carswell Motors in Lincolnton.
After about two months with Carswell, Pooleâ€™s brother, Jim, told him Hoyles needed a sales person for their Lincolnton dealership.
â€œI told them what I could come to work there for,â€ said Poole. â€œThey told me a couple of days later they couldnâ€™t do that, but Mr. Hoyle Sr. said â€˜give it to himâ€™ and they hired me.â€
The rest, as they say, is history.
When Poole left Hoyles in 1983, he said he took several months off while preparing to open his own dealership off N.C. 16.
Poole said customers of Hoyles remained loyal to him.
â€œPeople told me instead of buying a new car, they waited for me to open to buy a car from me,â€ said Poole.
In 2003, Poole moved his cars next to his Beth Haven Church Road residence.
Business has leveled off. Then again, so has Poole.
â€œI just turned 71 in April,â€ said Poole.
He still goes to two auctions to check out vehicles: the Statesville Auto Auction or the Adessa Auto Autcion in Charlotte.
â€œI wonâ€™t go to the night auctions because theyâ€™re like unloading lots,â€ said Poole. â€œGood cars there are few and far between.â€
Besides looking at the interior and exterior of a car Poole considers purchasing from the auction, he also checks the carâ€™s radio.
â€œWhat station a person listens to can pretty much tell me how they treated the car,â€ said Poole.
Prices for the cars at Pooleâ€™s Auto Sales are below $6,000, around the $3,000 – $3,500 range.
â€œA lot of people arenâ€™t trading in their older cars,â€ said Poole, adding there are a lot of late model cars at the auctions but not too many pre-1998 vehicles.â€
He remembered a story from when his dealership opened 23 years ago.
Poole said all of his printing work was done by Commercial Printing in downtown Lincolnton.
â€œThey printed my bills of sale, calling cards and other things related to the business,â€ said Poole. â€œWhen I asked Mr. Cornwell what I owed him, he said not a dime.â€
Cornwellâ€™s son, Rusty, now owns Commercial Printing and said Poole and his dad were good friends.
â€œWhen dad brought cars, he went through Bob,â€ said Cornwell. â€œI call Bob for advice on buying cars and I trust what he tells me. Heâ€™s been a good friend to us.â€
Bob Poole Auto Sales is located on Beth Haven Church Road in Denver. Besides cars, Poole also sells free-standing metal carports from Salisbury Metal Company and cemetery monuments. For more information, call (704) 483-2316.
by Jon Mayhew