News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Abercrombie right choice for Hartselle recognition

The Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce chose wisely, but didn't have a difficult time finding the right recipient for its first Chairman's Award for Excellence on Monday night.

Think of commerce and in Hartselle, the name Alvin Abercrombie surfaces.

Think of civic duty and the name is still Alvin Abercrombie.

Mention longevity and, that's right, it's Alvin Abercrombie.

There is a reason Mr. Abercronbie is Chevrolet's oldest Chevy "dealer principal" in Alabama.

"You know, you always have to meet people with a friendly smile, and it doesn't cost you anything to ask them how they are doing," he said, in an interview almost a year ago.

While many businesses want to locate immediately outside a city's limit to avoid paying municipal taxes, Mr. Abercrombie threatened to sue Hartselle to get in. "We were getting a lot of support from Hartselle, and we wanted to pay our taxes to the city," he said.

Mr. Abercrombie bought the dealership in 1965 after 10 years in the automotive business in Carbon Hill.

He said he grew up so poor the family couldn't afford a mailbox. He never forgot his roots. He learned what it took to make money and never forgot what it was like to be down on your luck.

And after more than four decades, the dealership is still a family business and prospering. So, it is by no accident that an organization devoted to commerce tapped this 82-year-old, who's been a Chevy dealer for 50 years, to set the example for success.

Hard work and a good product don't guarantee success. "The most important thing a dealership will do is keep people satisfied," he said.

He found that to be the case in politics, too. Seeking and winning appointment to a City Council seat in June 2003, he thought he could calm the storms at City Hall. But voters wanted change and a little more than a year later, he lost his seat.

But if he had been there the full term ... .

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