Florida dealer Ed Morse dies at 91
Longtime Florida dealer Ed Morse, who expanded his dealership group into one of the largest in the state, died Friday. He was 91.
Morse died of natural causes, Ed Morse Automotive Group said in a statement.
He retired as CEO of the dealership group in 2006, but remained chairman.
Ed Morse Automotive Group, of Delray Beach, Fla., ranks No. 63 on the Automotive News list of the top 125 dealership groups in the United States with retail sales of 9,297 new vehicles in 2011.
Ed's son, Ted, now leads the dealership group.
Morse entered automotive retailing in 1961, buying into Morse-Holland Ford in Miami. He began adding more dealerships in 1968, launching Ed Morse Chevrolet and Ed Morse Bayview Cadillac.
The group added 28 dealerships through the 1980s and 1990s. Today, the group says it owns 15 locations throughout the state.
In a 1997 interview with Automotive News, Morse said the group aimed to promote its image to ensure customer loyalty. Morse called it his top priority.
"First, our own school, Ed Morse University, trains all employees who interface with the customer," Morse said at the time. "That includes telephone operators, service writers, salespersons and others. There is a company culture. That dictates that the customer is to be served with respect, intelligently and with diligence. Second, we have a fully staffed customer relations department dedicated to keeping in touch with our customers to monitor our service to them."
Morse was born March 16, 1921. During World War II, he served with the U.S. Army Air Corps in the South Pacific as a navigator on a B-25 bomber. He received several medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross for helping pilot his plane back to base in New Guinea after the pilot was injured and co-pilot was killed.
In his first postwar job, Morse worked as a doorman at a hotel on Miami Beach. In 1946, Morse and his father, Alex, founded a car rental company. The pair started with 20 vehicles, ultimately growing to 2,000 before merging with National Car Rental. Morse was the company's CEO before becoming a dealer.
Morse is survived by his wife, Carol; son and daughter-in-law, Ted and Patti Morse; daughter and son-in-law, Betty Anne and Dick Beaver; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
You can reach Joseph Lichterman at email@example.com.