Plans in place for leadership to change

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 16, 2001

Taking his son into the business is a dream come true for Charles Yarbrough, owner of Natchez Ford Lincoln Mercury.

On Nov. 5, Brad Yarbrough moved to Natchez from Atlanta with his wife, Lena, and their two sons, ages 1 and 3, and became vice president in charge of sales.

In a few years, Brad will succeed his father as owner of the business, marking a third generation in the family to operate a Ford dealership.

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“It’s good to be able to bring a son into the business,” Charles Yarbrough said. “You work hard and know you don’t have a whole lot of working time left. It’s a good feeling.”

Now he knows how his own father, Bob Yarbrough, felt when he came into the family-owned dealership in Prescott, Ark., in 1967, said Charles, who grew up in that small town of 4,000 people and reared his own two sons there.

“It was an unusually nice small town, a good place to be,” he said. “We lost my father in 1994, and we closed that business in 1999.”

Towns as small as Prescott are difficult markets for automobile dealerships today, Yarbrough said. Natchez, on the other hand, has turned out to be a good market as well as also a good place to live.

The son agrees. And now that he has seven years of experience in the big city behind him, he appreciates even more the lifestyle and opportunities in the small town, he said.

“It was the best thing I could do for my career, going to Atlanta and seeing the many ways people run their dealerships,” Brad said. “It always was a goal of mine to own my own dealership, and it worked out well for me to come back here.”

His brother, Chuck Yarbrough, works for Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich., where he specializes in Internet sales referrals to dealerships.

Brad, with his degree in finance from the University of Arkansas, worked for a couple of years as office manager for the Ford dealership in Natchez before going to Atlanta. He returns with an even deeper commitment to the work facing him.

“Our plan is that he will become general manager in two years and buy me out in four years,” Charles said.

Charles Yarbrough has become active in the community since opening his business 10 years ago. He serves on the boards of the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce and the Natchez-Adams County Economic and Community Development Authority.

For Brad, following his father in community activities will be a natural. “In a city like Atlanta, you don’t have a sense of community,” Brad said. “I want to be involved and hopefully contribute to the economic growth of Natchez. I realized a long time ago that you get back what you put into the community.” &160;