LOS ANGELES -- As a young Ford rep in Southern California in the early 1970s, Ron Davis called on some of the nation's richest and most colorful car dealers.
"To be a young guy with a briefcase and drive up in a new car to talk to those millionaires -- now that was a lot of fun," said Davis. "They wanted to tell you, not you tell them."
But Davis discovered that he could sell a lot of cars to big-time dealers -- even if they didn't want them. That got him thinking. He decided he wanted to be one of those guys.
From the old days he remembers Red Abbott, owner of a Ford store in La Puente, about 20 miles east of Los Angeles.
"He had the salty language and was impeccably dressed," Davis said. "Back then it was my job to wholesale cars, and it was hard because the dealers had lots full of cars."
He said Abbott always said the same thing.
"'Young man, I don't need any cars,' he'd say," Davis recalled. "Then he would say, 'You're giving me a headache,' and he would go lie on the couch like he was ignoring me.
"After a few minutes, he'd jump up and say, 'Let's go to the club to get something to eat,' and after a few cocktails I would always be able to sell him a few cars."
After working at Ford, Davis held field and in-house sales, marketing and distribution positions at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. and Hyundai Motor America. In 1993 he left the corporate world to open a used-car lot in Orange County in California.
Then in 2002, his dream came true. He acquired a Ford store in Santa Monica, west of Los Angeles -- right on Santa Monica Boulevard, 12 blocks from the beach.
"By working with the dealers, I knew that's what I wanted to do," Davis said. "You don't learn the full effect working for the factory. It's very different being on this side of the desk and being at the factory. It's quite a different view."