Alton Blakley Ford-Lincoln-Mazda-Honda
Somerset , KY
Overall Rank for 2012: 67
At the Alton Blakley Family of Dealerships, "family" is the operative word.
It remains family owned after 47 years, and nearly half of the more than 100 employees have been on the job for at least two decades. Some are children of current and former employees, such as a woman in the accounting office whose father was the parts manager for about 40 years and whose brother also used to work there.
One staff member, a porter, has been there since the beginning, when Alton Blakley Sr. founded the business in 1965.
"I can't imagine my life without these people," says Alton Blakley Jr., who took over the company after his father died in 1990. "We've all been together a long time and have very, very few employee issues."
The dealership sells Ford, Lincoln, Mazda and Honda vehicles from three adjacent showrooms in Somerset, a city of about 11,000 people near the Daniel Boone National Forest in southeastern Kentucky.
High unemployment in the area made the employees grateful to be working there, even when Blakley had to reduce some benefits to survive the recession and auto industry downturn, he says. Benefits aren't back to where they were, but the business is hiring again and sales are rising.
"They didn't question any cuts that we had to make," says Blakley, who gives cards to workers for Christmas, Labor Day and other holidays. "They just went forward and took care of customers, and we worked out of it."
— Nick Bunkley