In 1957 a tiny spacecraft known as Sputnik became the first artificial satellite launched into space, the Braves (then in Milwaukee) slipped by the mighty Yanks 4-3 in the World Series, “The Cat in the Hat” was published, “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” were in the midst of their television runs, while “Wake Up Little Susie” and “Jailhouse Rock” were blaring from radios.
That same year, a small business opened on what was then the outskirts of downtown Mount Airy.
Today, 65 years and three generations later, Scenic Motors is not only still around, but the business which started as a Ford dealership has grown to become the local dealer for Subaru, GM, Lincoln, and operate a full-service collision center.
The company will be marking its anniversary on Friday, with what officials there are calling a customer appreciation day, with some food vendors, a band, and give-aways for those coming around.
“Porky’s (BBQ) will be there with hot dogs, we’ll have raffles…65th anniversary t-shirts, Kona Ice….it’s just a celebration,” said Brooke Johnson, marketing director. “It’s not tied in with a sale, if people want to buy a car that’s great, but this is just a customer appreciation day. We’ll have t-shirts, hat give-aways, cupcakes.”
“This will be one of our first gatherings…since COVID,” added Justin Gough, owner and dealer. “We used to have an annual celebration, since COVID has pushed out a lot of our gatherings we haven’t been able to do that.”
The festivities will be taking place at two of the three business’ locations — Scenic Ford-Lincoln at 1992 Rockford St. and Scenic Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac and Scenic Subaru at 2300 Rockford St.
“They’ll start in the morning and move from one place to the other throughout the day,” Johnson said. “If you can’t find them at one location they’ll be at another.”
At the Ford dealership, the band True Miles Unknown will be playing from noon until 3 p.m.; and at the Subaru dealership she said there will be a pet adoption from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
“We love our community and we would love to have everyone come on out and celebrate with us,” Johnson said.
The celebration marks the autumn opening of the original Scenic Ford dealership 65 years ago.
D.A. Gough and his brother Claude Gough, along with three “silent investors,” started the company then, on North Main Street in Mount Airy, according to D.A. Gough’s daughter, Sheree Gough-Beasley.
Gough-Beasley said she was far too young to recall much about those early days, other than to know her dad and family moved from Yadkinville to Mount Airy to open the business at the site of where Robby’s is located now.
As is the case with all businesses, those early years had their challenges, but she said her father was always about treating customers and employees right — and that spurred both the early and long-term success of the company.
A year after opening the firm, she said her dad moved the business to Highway 601, the present location of Mount Airy Collision, where the firm was located until 1965. The move coincided with Ford contacting her father about expanding to include the Mercury and Lincoln auto lines.
Along the way, as car nameplates and company names changed, Scenic Motors sometimes changed the make of car it was selling, but she said it has been all she’s known as a worker, owner and principal during her adult years.
“We’ve always had a good steady business,” she said, adding that despite economic ups and downs, overall the dealership has remained steady in its sales and its ability to keep a workforce employed. The key to that success?
“How my Dad started it and how he ran the business until his death in 1991,” she said. “The way he would run a business, the way we would run a business…we were trustworthy.”
Justin Gough, who took over in 2007 with the unexpected death of his father, Ricky Gough, said the people who make up the workforce in the business have been vital to its success. A workforce of 117 individuals, with little turnover through the years.
“We do our best to be a good place to work,” Gough said of the reason many employees stay there for years — some for their entire careers. “We educate ourselves, stay ahead of the curve. We care about our customers, we care about our employees. We try to treat this like it’s a family, because it is.”
He said that translates not only to a workforce which stays a long time, but does an excellent job while working.
“The have a desire to come in and do a good job every day. It feels good to walk in the door every day, I think customers can feel that.”
“We just really want to thank all of our customers over the past 65 years,” Gough-Beasley said of this week’s anniversary celebration. “Without them we wouldn’t be here.”
Her nephew echoed that statement.
“The Gough family and everybody at Scenic really appreciate the 65 years, it’s not something we take for granted.”