End of the Line
McCubbin family brings an end
to two generations of car dealership
Kevin McCubbin retires, ending 60 years
of the family business
(April 2021) – Bill McCubbin and his son, Kevin, remember the introduction of the new Mustang in 1964 as an exciting milestone. For Bill, it started after an unusual meeting with Ford’s Lee Iacocca during a zone meeting for area Ford dealers. Iacocca was unable to play golf due to a broken finger. Six of the 60 dealers were asked to spend the afternoon with Iacocca instead of golfing.
“That was probably one of the best investments of time that I ever had. The new Mustangs were being allocated to dealers, but whatever I asked for, we got,” Bill said. Kevin was still in school at the time, but Mustangs are still ranked among his favorite cars.
The most significant milestone for McCubbin Motors was the March sale of the dealership to the Harding Auto Group. The McCubbin dealership was opened 60 years ago by Bill McCubbin as McCubbin Ford. The name was changed to McCubbin Motors in 1981 when Chrysler was added to the dealership. McCubbin Motors was one of the oldest family-run Ford dealerships in Indiana.
It all started after the end of World War II. Bill McCubbin returned home to Campbellsville, Ky., after serving in the U.S. Navy as a boatswain during five Pacific Island invasions. Almost immediately after returning home, he enrolled at the University of Louisville.
Photo by Sharyn Whitman
From left, Kevin and his father, Bill, McCubbin pose beside a new Mach-E electric vehicle inside the showroom.
While attending classes there, he found part-time work selling shoes and then working at a service station, where he also sold a few used cars. When he graduated, he was hired as a salesman at Summers and Herrman Ford Dealership in Louisville. Soon he was promoted to Used Car Manager, then New Car Manager, and finally General Sales Manager.
In 1957, Bill accompanied a business colleague to evaluate a Ford dealership in Madison, Ind. That colleague did not purchase the dealership in Madison. However, a group of individuals in Madison subsequently contacted Bill to offer financial support for him to buy the dealership. They helped him secure the necessary financing and also bought stock in the company to support him. Bill bought the Ford dealership in December 1960 and was able to open McCubbin Ford by April 1961. The investors stipulated that Bill was not allowed to take a pay raise until the loan was paid back. He quickly paid off those loans within three years. McCubbin Ford was located at 319 E. Main St. The slogan used when they opened was “The Courthouse is across from us.”
Kevin had grown up helping in the dealership by sweeping floors and washing cars. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in the car business,” he said. After graduating from Indiana State University in 1974 with a degree in business and marketing, he moved to Atlanta. When he came home for Christmas that year, he started helping at McCubbin Ford. “I just never left,” Kevin said. “Now it has been almost 46 years.”
He worked in Parts, Body Shop and Sales. He was promoted to Sales Manager and then General Manager. Bill said, “He hadn’t been in the business too long when I realized that he really knew what he was doing. Kevin is very good as a business manager. I am most proud of his ability to be a good business manager.”
In 1977, Bill bought the current property on the hilltop. It took a year to build the new building before they could move from downtown Madison to the hilltop. Bill hired Donna DeShong in 1981 to work in the office. All the bookkeeping was manual at that time. Bill retired in 1993 at age 70. “Kevin and Donna were very good at managing cash flow. She is a wonderful lady,” Bill said.
DeShong, Office Manager, still describes her job as “working in the office,” although she has done many things over the past 40 years. “Kevin and Bill have been good to work for over the years. We always got along. It’s never been boring – there is always something new every day. We’ve had a lot of laughs together.” The change of ownership is a “lot to absorb,” but DeShong is still working in the office.
Both Bill, 97, and Kevin, 68, have favorite cars. For Bill, his favorites have always been antique cars. “My favorite car was a 1964 black Lincoln, four-door convertible with a tan leather interior. It was the most complicated vehicle Ford made. It was also the heaviest passenger car that Ford ever made. That’s a car I wish I had kept,” Bill said.
Kevin’s favorites include the original Shelby GT, the 1968 Mustang, the 1970 Mustang Mach-I with the 351 Cleveland engine and the Dodge Charger GT.
“Looking back, the things that I liked best about the business were the different changes. There was always something to look forward to: changes in cars, new models, the excitement of new products coming out,” Kevin, said.
While businesses always face the unknowns such as wars, an oil embargo, or a recession, Kevin observed that most of those things didn’t turn out to be as bad as they feared. Even in retirement, both Bill and Kevin still have the spark when they talk about sales.
“You never lose the exciting feeling of selling a car,” Bill said. “People smile when they drive off in their new car.” Kevin echoed that sentiment, saying, “There is the same thrill to sell a car in 2021 as there was in 1974.”
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