RINGGOLD, GA. - Ringgold Chrysler Dodge Jeep, one of the city's oldest car dealerships, has been sold to the Mountain View auto chain, which owns and operates four auto dealerships in Chattanooga.
The Ringgold addition will be the fifth store to operate under the Mountain View name, following Mountain View Ford and Lincoln, Mountain View Nissan, Mountain View Chevy and Mountain View at 153, a used car lot -- all which are located in Chattanooga.
Don Thomas, who will oversee operations at Chattanooga's Mountain View Nissan and now Ringgold's Mountain View Chrysler Dodge Jeep, had only praise Friday for Mike Robbins, who is turning in the keys to the Ringgold dealership after 13 years at its helm.
The Robbins family bought the dealership back in 1976, and the family operated it right up until Feb. 1, when Mountain View officially took over management.
"I'm glad they considered us as a contender to buy the store," said Thomas. "They have a great following. They've provided a great service to that area."
Thomas said the Mountain View auto chain will build on the success the Ringgold dealership has enjoyed through the years, and add to its inventory by featuring hundreds of additional vehicles from the other four Mountain View stores.
Each Mountain View store is owned and operated individually, he said. The company does not have an umbrella, corporate model.
With the acquisition of a Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealership, Mountain View now carries every major U.S. auto line.
This is also the chain's first venture into Georgia. Mountain View operated a dealership in Alabama at one time, but sold it because it was too far away for the company's hands-on approach to operations.
Like Ringgold Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Mountain View is a family-owned and operated auto chain, with roots also going back nearly three decades.
Thomas said that was a major factor forRobbins.
"They were happy another local family was purchasing the store," he said.
Robbins echoed that Friday afternoon.
"I think one of the things that's important is that it's still a family-owned business," he said. "And that's one of the reasons that helped me decide to sell it, that it was not a corporate deal. It was a local, family-type dealership."
Thomas said things will not change much at the Ringgold store as it transitions into new leadership. The entire staff was retained, and a couple of new hires have been made, bringing the store's employment up to about 40 people.
He said there may be some building upgrades in the future, also.
The existing building was largely remodeled after the 2011 tornadoes, said Robbins.
He said Friday that he decided to sell the store because his children are not interested in taking the reins when he retires, as was the case in 2000 when Robbins took over after his father passed the company down.
Robbins said selling cars is "all I've ever done."
But he isn't limiting himself to that, walking away now at 49.
He plans to have some vacation time, then figure out what's next.
"I don't have another career that I'm ready to jump back into," he said. "But since I'm 49, I'm pretty sure I'll have to find something else to do, later on after a little vacation time."
Robbins and Thomas did not say how much the Ringgold store sold for.
But, said Thomas, "It was a fair amount, let's just put it that way."
Contact staff writer Alex Green at email@example.com or 423-757-6480.