Dennis Egglefield figures that his family's Ford dealership in upstate New York had to beat some pretty long odds to keep going for 100 years under continuous family ownership.
In 1910, Wilbur Egglefield, an enterprising carpenter in the Adirondack Mountains, bought himself a Model T from a fledgling automaker called Ford. He quickly ordered two more for admiring friends, as a favor -- and realized that this could be a nice sideline business.
By Aug. 1 of that year, he had hammered together a barn in New Russia, N.Y., and hung out a shingle as a franchised Ford dealer.
"In those early days, Ford shipped the body, engine and wheels by train," says Dennis Egglefield, Wilbur's great-grandson. "He had to go down to the train station in Westport and assemble the car before he could drive it home."
Business was good. By 1917, Wilbur Egglefield moved the dealership down the road and erected a new building in Elizabethtown.
It became Egglefield Bros. Ford when sons Spencer and Harrison took over. Spencer's sons, Spencer Jr. and Lew, became the third generation.
Dennis Egglefield took over from his father, Spencer Jr. His two sons, Cory and Kent, work there now.
Ford spokesman Steve Kinkade said Egglefield Bros. is Ford's eighth-oldest dealer and will be honored next August on the store's centennial.
"To achieve 100 years in the Ford family of dealers is an extraordinary accomplishment," Kinkade says.
But Egglefield says the family has been fortunate to keep the business alive and within its ownership for so long. Aside from the Depression and two world wars -- including a halt to U.S. private automobile production from 1941 to 1946 -- the family had its own narrow escapes.
The dealership Wilbur built in 1917 burned to the ground during an expansion in 1971. And as a Marine fighter pilot in World War II, Spencer Egglefield Jr. escaped death when he crashed on a Pacific island mountaintop during a night mission.
"This has been in the works a very long time," Dennis Egglefield says. "When you think of all the brands that have come and gone, very few dealers will ever get the chance to hit 100 years."