1930-1940s

1936 Parts & Service Dept

1941 – Because of expanding business, Reed Brothers constructed a complete new building for the Parts and Service Departments. The building formally opened on Saturday, July 5, 1941 and housed from 35-40 cars. View is from the corner of Rockville Pike & what is now known as “Dodge Street”. 

In 1930, Reed Brothers added the Plymouth line. The Dodge Brothers Motor Cars name became simply ‘Dodge,’ and the brand’s first eight-cylinder engine was completed. Even though times were tough during the Great Depression, Reed Brothers was doing well enough to finance another facelift and renovation; a new Parts and Service Department was built in 1941.

New Service Buiding

Montgomery County Sentinel, July 3, 1941

Prior to World War II, Lewis Reed allotted specific sales territory to his salesmen in four different directions from the dealership. Car salesmen spent all day in the outlying areas because the farm people in Poolesville, Rockville, Barnesville and Spencerville had no time to go to a showroom. At that time, Reed Brothers was selling about eight new cars a month, along with a number of used car sales. and most sales resulted from knocking on people’s doors. It was direct person to person sales contact, relationship building and trust – all built and sealed on a handshake.

Business Men Of Rockville

“Sketches of the leading business institutions and the men and women behind them will appear in this space each week. Behind every business, big or little, there is a personality. In Rockville the men who carry on business are men who have established themselves in the community as citizens taking an active part in civic affairs. They are your neighbors.”

Business Men Of Rockville

“Business Men Of Rockville” Section of the Montgomery County Sentinel, June 15, 1933

Reed Brothers 20th Anniversary

20th Anniversary

Montgomery County Sentinel, August 22, 1935

In 1940, Reed Brothers Dodge Celebrated 25 Years in Business

Dodge Silver Anniversary Award

Montgomery County Sentinel, September 14, 1939

Edgar and Lewis Reed (center) receive Dodge Silver Anniversary Award

Reed Brothers Dodge operated their own full service Gulf gasoline and service station. In fact, the company was the first Gulf gas dealer in the Washington, D.C. area, selling gas at its original location in Old Rockville at the triangle at Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike. They carried a full line of Gulf lubricants, Goodyear tires, Willard batteries and many other well known brands of merchandise to meet their patrons needs. Reed Brothers discontinued offering this product line when they relocated to their new facility in November 1970.

Reed Brothers Dodge & Plymouth Service Invoice - June 28, 1944

Reed Brothers Dodge & Plymouth Service Invoice – June 28, 1944

Reed Brothers Dodge & Plymouth Service Invoice dated June 28, 1944. $5.00 labor and 90 cents parts for a total of $5.90. The dealership’s address at the time was 600 East Montgomery Avenue Rockville. H.L. England’s name is on the invoice and his car was a 1941 Dodge Coupe. Harrison L. England was active in land development of older Rockville, including Lincoln Park and Croydon Park. He was born in a building known as Hungerford Tavern on N. Washington Street and operated a business under the name of Suburban Properties. His father was John G. England, the first mayor of Rockville.

In 1930, Reed Brothers added the Plymouth line. The first Plymouth was built in 1928 and Plymouths were sold at Reed Brothers until 1969, when the brand was given to the Chrysler dealers.

United States Enters World War II

During World War II, Reed Brothers Dodge had virtually no new cars to sell for three and a half years. Tires and parts were rationed. Strict price ceilings governed used-car sales. Used cars were really hard to find, because people couldn’t afford to give them up. So, most dealerships had to rely on their service and parts departments to fix the cars people couldn’t replace. Empty showrooms were a problem. When manufacturers halted car production and many dealers went bankrupt, Lewis Reed converted his car showroom into a display room and sold GE washing machines, Westinghouse Radios, and other large appliances to fill the gap.

Westinghouse Radio Ad

Newspaper ad for Westinghouse Radios with Reed Bros, Rockville, MD listed in fine print at the bottom

After the end of World War II, the car boom came and the automobile assembly lines were back in action. Reed Brothers celebrated the end of World War II with another new facelift and a whole new look. The first car after the war was the 1946 Dodge, which sold for about $800.

Reed Brothers Dodge Addition of Gulf Gas

Another facelift after WW II and the Addition of Gulf Gas, ca. 1946

Reed Brothers Dodge 1940s

Reed Brothers Dodge full service Gulf gas station with two gas station attendants, ca. 1946

Reed Brothers DodgeErnest Lee Gartner, who married Lewis Reed’s daughter, Mary Jane, joined the business in 1949. Although he graduated from Strayer College with a degree in business, Lee Gartner learned a lot through hands-on experience at the dealership. Lee Gartner continued the business as Dealer Principal after Lewis Reed died in 1967.

Even after Lee Gartner took over as Dealer Principal, Lewis Reed could still be found at the dealership every day greeting customers and answering telephones.  Handshakes, trust, and courtesy sealed a transaction. It was a recipe, Lewis Reed believed, that needed no adjustment.

Reed Brothers has enjoyed a lasting bit of nostalgia over the decades in the form of a black, 1946 Dodge Deluxe 4-door Sedan Fluid Drive. Lee Gartner sold the car originally and later bought it back from the owner when they could no longer drive. The first car after the war was the1946 Dodge, which sold for about $800.

The dealership also owned a 1928 Dodge Brothers Standard Six. This car fell into the hands of Lee Gartner over 40 years ago from an upper Montgomery County, Maryland used car dealer at the price of $100.00. In dealer ownership for over forty years, this vintage car was restored and maintained over the years by Reed Brothers Five-Star Service Department. The car carried an $835 factory price and was powered by a 6-cylinder; L-head engine rated at 27.34 hp. It had only 46,504 original miles on it. It still ran well until it was sold in 2012.

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