Babb Ford celebrates 60 years in community

REED CITY — Ron Babb can remember sweeping floors and washing windows at Babb Ford when he was just 9 years old. Now, he is the dealership's owner, and is celebrating the business' 60th birthday.

"We're just here trying to do the best we can, and over the years our market area has grown," said current owner Ron Babb. "We're the only Ford dealer in five counties. We have a huge customer base compared to what we had even just a few years ago."

Ron Babb's father, Ross Babb, started his business as a Ford dealership in 1954 under the title of Babb's Motor Sales. It was first located in Evart, but in August 1966 it was relocated to Reed City by request of Ford Motor Company to serve Lake and Osceola counties. The business now employs 21 individuals.

Ron became more familiar with the business through his teen years. He attended and graduated from Michigan State University in 1973 and then worked for the Ford Motor Credit Company for about three years before returning to Babb Ford, filling a service manager position. In the 1990's, after almost 30 years, he became the owner after his father passed away.

"It's been a lot of fun working with the people here," Ron said. "We've had a lot of laughs and neat experiences. It's not rocket science to run a business. You have to have good employees and you have to treat them well. If you do that, you'll have longevity."

There is no "big secret" to operating a business for as long as 60 years. Honesty and treating people how you would want to be treated are the basics, he added. Building a customer base by those two standards is key. The business represents his father, the community and many memories, both positive and negative.

Through his years as a successful businessman and beyond, Ron gives credit to people who work alongside him and those out in the community for making Babb Ford what it is today.

"I've had a number of very excellent employees over the years and we couldn't have done it without them and without our customers," Ron said. "My top-notch employees are the backbone of this place and I'm thrilled to work with them every day."

To help celebrate the 60-year milestone, the business is hosting an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 16. During the event, community members can chat with the dealership staff and take a look at the 2015 Ford F-150, which features an aluminum body.

"I'm looking forward to seeing friends, relative and customers," Ron said. "I'm proud of what we've accomplished over the years and I'm proud of what my dad started. He never imagined something like this. Over the years it just got bigger and bigger and I think we're a pretty integral part of this community."