Community News Business Spotlight: Southern Fleet Sales

Community News Business Spotlight: Southern Fleet Sales

January 10th, 2018 by Heather Newlin in Community East Hamilton

Specializing specifically in Chargers and Tahoes formerly used for police operations, Southern Fleet Sales owner John Thatcher says customers not only get a great deal on a well-maintained vehicle, but that they also get the expertise that comes from his staff "know[ing] these cars like the back of our hand."

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

* Owner: John Thatcher

* Location: 3900 Ringgold Road

* Specialty: Southern Fleet Sales offers used police and special-service vehicles, specializing in Charger and Tahoe police vehicles, though Thatcher said they also offer other makes and models of select good quality local trade-ins.

* Driving force: Thatcher is a retired police officer with a personal love of old cop cars that are hard to come by. While scouting them out at special sales, Thatcher said he's also able to keep his lot stocked with highly desired government cars.

Southern Fleet Sales owner John Thatcher is using his experience as a retired police officer for Collegedale and Red Bank to build a business focused on repurposing former police vehicles for everyday customers.

Southern Fleet Sales owner John Thatcher is using...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

* Other ventures: A successful businessman, Thatcher also owns popular Georgia barbecue chain Thatcher's Barbecue & Grill.

* The power of one: "These cars have all only had one owner," said Jim Thompson, a sales rep at Southern Fleet. "They were bought brand-new for government use and all maintained well." Thatcher noted that police officers get reprimanded for failing to keep up with their vehicle's maintenance. "They take a lot better care of their car as far as regular maintenance than the general public does," he said.

* Life in the fast lane: "We can do a Carfax on every one of them and it's just unbelievable the kinds of records that are on these cars," Thompson said. "Some of them were used in high-speed pursuit, some were just driven by guys that rolled around from station to station, and some were Georgia highway patrol vehicles or used by Homeland Security."

* Best-sellers: "The Tahoes have been unbelievable," Thompson said. "We got seven or eight and they sold out really quick. Before that was the Hemis; you're getting a SUV that isn't four-wheel drive and doesn't have a third seat but is especially built for law enforcement."

* Quick transition: Because of their excellent condition, said Thompson, the cars go from state use to personal use after the lights and state lettering are removed. "After they're cleaned up, they're ready to go," he said.

* Test drive: Swing by the lot at 3900 Ringgold Road to see the current collection of autos, and don't miss the 1978 firetruck on the lot. "One of the last living old-school-type fire trucks was just sitting in the grass at an auto auction," said Thatcher. "They did not know which button to push and which knob to turn — but I did."