One of the area's oldest family-run car dealerships, still in operation today, was founded 64 years ago when Parkersburg native Francis Summers opened Summers Plymouth DeSoto in Marietta.
"My dad and mom (Francis and Betty Summers) came to Marietta in 1950 and started the business at the corner of Second and Greene streets, where Cole's Tire and Supply is located now," said Scott Summers who, along with younger brother, Jeff, now operates Summers Buick GMC.
A pilot for the U.S. Navy during World War II, Francis returned to his hometown after the war and became a flight instructor at the old Stewart Airfield which is now the location of Grand Central Mall.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Jeff, left, and Scott Summers are the current operators of Summers Buick GMC on Pike Street. The family has had a dealership in Marietta since 1950.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Summers Buick GMC on Pike Street is the third location of the business since Francis Summers founded the company in 1950.
"He was always known as 'Franny,'" Scott said. "He taught flying at the Stewart field, but he also did a lot of stunt-flying for air shows."
Born a couple of years after his father established the dealership, Scott grew up in the business, as did Jeff and their siblings.
"One of my earliest memories is tying a rowboat to a street sign at the shop on Second and Greene when downtown Marietta was flooded," Scott said.
1950-Francis Summers opens a Plymouth and DeSoto dealership at Second and Greene streets in Marietta.
1960-Summers moves the business to Colegate Drive, selling Pontiacs and Buicks.
1988-Dealership is moved to present location at 1000 Pike St., now Summers Buick and GMC.
2007-Francis Summers dies at age 83. Sons Scott and Jeff now operate the business.
He was 8 years old when Francis moved the dealership out of the floodplain in 1960 to much higher ground on Colegate Drive and switched from selling Plymouths and DeSotos to a new line of General Motors vehicles.
The business has always been family-owned and operated.
That means learning the ropes from the ground up, according to Jeff.
"Anything that needs done, you pitch in and help out," he said. "It's all part of being a family business. I basically started out washing cars and cutting grass. But I've also worked in the service, sales and parts departments."
Summers Pontiac and Buick thrived for 28 years at the Colegate Drive location before the property was sold to Ken Berdine and is now the site of Berdine's Auto Service.
"We moved to the current location at 1000 Pike St. in 1988 as a Buick dealership and added GMC trucks to our line,' Scott said. "Dad later retired and Jeff and I took over the business. But he would still come and check things out."
Franny Summers died in December 2007 at the age of 83.
There have been plenty of changes in the auto industry over the last 64 years.
"Computers and the Internet have been a big change," Jeff said.
"And all vehicles now contain computers. They're more complicated and sophisticated."
Scott noted it also requires more sophisticated computerized equipment to diagnose and repair those vehicles.
"And training for our staff is always ongoing," he said. "You have to keep up with the times."
"You either keep up or your business falls by the wayside," Jeff added.
Scott said the thinks the business has lasted so long because of customer relations.
"It's about treating people fairly and taking care of them with good service after they purchase a vehicle," he said, adding that the dealership has a lot of loyal repeat customers too.
"We must be doing something right," Scott added. "If they have a good buying and service experience and are treated fair they'll come back here first when looking for a new car or truck."
He said from the beginning Summers has serviced the vehicles it sells as well as other makes and models.
"Now we have a complete collision center, too, and can service any vehicle, including fiberglass boat repairs," Scott said.
After more than three decades in business he said the dealership plans to continue serving the local community for some time.