When Leon Edwards' father became a Chevrolet dealer in 1916, the Birmingham, Ala., retailer had two employees and his vehicles arrived partly assembled in railroad boxcars.
"My father did the selling, and he was the bookkeeper. He had a mechanic and he had a porter," says Edwards, recalling what his father, Sterling Edwards, told him about Edwards Motors Co., which later became Edwards Chevrolet Inc. "They had to go get the cars off the railroad track and bring them to Birmingham. The frame wasn't attached to the body. That's how they shipped them."
Celebrating its 95th anniversary this year, Edwards Chevrolet is among the nation's oldest Chevrolet dealerships.
Edwards, the dealer principal, took over the reigns of the store in 1962. He declines to reveal his age. He continues to operate that store and Edwards Chevrolet 280 Inc. in suburban Birmingham, with his son, Lee, who is general sales manager of the family business.
Sterling Edwards was 21 when he left home in Gadsden, Ala., a small town about 50 miles from Birmingham, seeking a job in the retail auto industry in 1911, the same year the Chevrolet brand was born.
Sterling Edwards' father -- Leon Edward's grandfather -- was a doctor who became too ill to work; his mother was a homemaker. A teenage Sterling had taken odd jobs before and after school to help support the family until he finally dropped out of school.
Unable to support his parents, Sterling Edwards packed his clothes, got on his motorcycle and headed for Birmingham. "That was the big city," says Edwards, recalling what his father told him.