In 1950, Reed Brothers Dodge celebrated their 35th Anniversary. Since October 1917, when Lewis Reed purchased the business from the Warfield’s, the business had steadily grown. Reed Brothers now employed twenty-two persons. In addition to the Shop Foreman, Lester Wilson, who had been associated with the business since 1918, Reed Brothers employed six factory trained mechanics in their fully equipped Service Department.
Edgar Reed passed away in October 1951. In 1952, the partnership known as Reed Brothers became Reed Brothers, Inc. Lewis Reed was President of the Corporation – Arthur L. Watkins, Vice President and Sales Manager – Ernest Lee Gartner, Secretary-Treasurer and General Manager. In addition to its Officers, the dealership employed twenty-one people to assist in the operation of the business. Three of the employees had been with Reed Brothers since 1917, and many others had a long record of employment with the company.
Introduction of School Buses in Montgomery County
If you were a grade school student the late 1950’s, a Dodge school bus might have been your ride. The first school buses used around Rockville (and in Montgomery County) were furnished by Reed Brothers Dodge.
From The Montgomery County Sentinel, May 21, 1959:
1953 Reconstruction of Gulf Gasoline Station
Due to changes in the highway, Reed Brothers began an extensive remodeling and rebuilding program. The program consisted of a sizable addition to their service shop which enlarged the showroom area and housed the Parts Department. Two-thirds of the original location at the junction of then Route 240 and Veirs Mill Road was razed and a modern Gulf Service Station was erected. The following photos were taken before demolition, during demolition, and after reconstruction of the Gulf Gasoline station.
After reconstruction of the Gulf gas station (circa 1960s)
New car introduction was always one of the most exciting times at Reed Brothers Dodge. It was a once-a-year celebration that everyone looked forward to attending. For the salesman, it meant additional car sales. To the dealership, it was another method to reach out to hundreds of current and potential customers, not only for new car sales, but also to advertise the dealership’s other services. Many sales were made during new car introduction by those customers who had to be the first on their block to own one of the new models.
The car on display in the photograph above is a 1961 Dodge Polara 4-door sedan, Dodge’s top-of-the-line full-size car. The new look featured a wide, concave grille with low-mounted quad headlights and the curious reverse-slant fins. The name Polara is a reference to the Polaris star, in a marketing attempt to appeal to the excitement surrounding the Space Race during the early 1960s. In its various forms, the Polara name was used by Dodge until 1973, when its position in Dodge’s line-up was replaced by the Dodge Monaco.
To attract drive-by motorists, large signs were placed in the showroom windows hyping the new year models: Dart, Lancer and Polara. Back in the day, there was tremendous brand loyalty. Customers who bought Dodges, usually bought them for life. In fact, many former customers traded every year and would buy a car on the spot. In the 1960’s, new car introduction was a much more important part of the American automotive buying habit. Today, it’s a thing of the past.
The photo above of the inside of Reed Brothers Dodge service area was taken around 1960. At the time the photo was taken, the dealership was located at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike.
Along the back wall inside the service area was the entrance to the new car showroom, parts counter and the cashier’s window. The new car showroom and service department were connected by large double doors, which was how new cars were moved in and out of the showroom. Above the cashier’s window was a small door that opened into the parts department storage area for the stock of tires. Reed Brothers was also a Goodyear tire retailer. The roof was supported by steel trusses, which kept the entire floor free of pillars and made the movement of cars easier. Also, most of the light for the area was provided by skylights and windows.
In 1965, Reed Brothers Dodge celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
Honoring 50-Year Dealers – A double ceremony at the Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington, D.C., was part of a special 50th Anniversary celebration honoring two Dodge dealers: C.C. Wine, founder of Wine Brothers, Harrisonburg, Va., and Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers, Inc., of Rockville, Maryland. Both men, who received their franchises in 1915 from the Dodge Brothers – John and Horace Dodge – were awarded gold plaques for “a half-century of dependability in sales and service.” Presentation was made by Ray Cox, Washington regional sales manager.
Lewis Reed passed away on January 28, 1967. The Senate of Maryland adopted Resolution No. 10 expressing profound regrets over the untimely passing of Mr. Lewis Reed.
When Lewis Reed passed away, the leadership helm was passed to Lee Gartner who continued the business as Dealer Principal/President, making Reed Brothers Dodge a second generation dealer.
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