Farming Out Business
During World War II, Reed Brothers Dodge had no new cars to sell for three and a half years. 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 and other large appliances to fill the gap. After the end of World War II, the car boom came and the automobile assembly lines were back in action. The first car after the war was the 1946 Dodge, which sold for about $800.
Car salesmen back in the 1940s would drive as far as 35 miles to deliver cars to their spread-out farmer customers. Lewis Reed allotted specific sales territory to his salesmen in four different directions from the dealership. The 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. Lee Gartner (Lewis Reed’s son-in-law) spent his summers on his grandfather’s farm and it was Mr. Lewis Reed who brought his grandfather’s car to him. Three of the four salesmen at the time were Francis O. Day, Raleigh S. Chinn and Benjamin Thompson.
At that time, Reed Brothers was selling about eight new cars a month 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.