J.R. Toothman and Frank Sowers

J.R. Toothman, left, shakes hands with Frank Sowers after transitioning to the ownership roles of the former Wilson Ford, renaming the dealership on Route 250 to Toothman and Sowers about two and a half weeks ago.

FAIRMONT – Frank Sowers’ career in car sales has just about come full circle.

Having started out as a salesman for Wilson Ford on Route 250, Sowers’ name is now part of the dealership, which recently changed hands after 97 years of service to the area.

“I started out in business here and spent a little over 20 years,” Sowers said. “Then I went on my own. It’s kind of neat since I started here.”

The dealership is now known as Toothman and Sowers Ford. Sowers partnered with longtime car salesman J.R. Toothman of Grafton, to purchase and soon begin to revamp the dealership.

According to Toothman, the prospect of being involved in a business that has seen success in the area for such a long time was an opportunity neither could pass up, but both could see potential in.

“It was a great opportunity for both of us,” Toothman said. “The reputation of Wilson Ford has always been positive so we just felt like it was a great opportunity for each of us to expand and put our thumb print on what we’re able to do here.”

Sowers owns Sowers Pre-Owned Auto Sales in Fairmont, while Toothman owns Toothman Ford in Grafton, but the business born out of their partnership is a completely new and separate endeavor. Toothman explained how the shop will operate under the new ownership, and how they hope to adapt to their new roles.

“They are their own separate entities altogether,” Toothman said. “We feel like we can significantly raise sales volume in this market, that Fairmont and White Hall have tremendous growth potential.”

Being completely new to the location, Toothman said they had some help from many of the workers they kept on board during the transition, as well as their Controller Joyce Wilson Hamilton, who is part of the family that previously owning the dealership.

“She understands the finances of the previous business and the Ford system inside and out,” Toothman said. “That was actually a huge point for Frank and I was the fact she was staying on with us.”

With Wilson Hamilton’s experience and insight, the two new owners of the dealership have been getting an inside perspective of the new potential of the dealership, which Toothman said will soon be capitalized on. With a location right off Interstate 79 that handles sales, quotes and an auto body shop, the two plan to make improvements to the facility in the coming years.

“The one thing that I think amazed us is the potential of this service facility,” Toothman said. “Over the next two years for sure you’re going to see a lot of changes in the physical structure to the building as we update it. We’ve done a similar renovation at ours.”

With only a little more than two weeks of ownership under their belt, Sowers and Toothman are already seeing the possibilities offered by the shop, and are excited to be not only a car dealership, but a trusted part of the community.

“To be able to back that purchase and take care of that customer is huge,” Sowers said. “The next 24 months are going to see some changes here.”

Toothman agreed and emphasized the importance of being a trusted dealership in the modern world of automobile sales.

“We really see great things for this location,” he said. “We see amazing things for Fairmont and White Hall, a lot of upsides. We’re really excited to get deeper into the community.”

For more information on Toothman and Sowers, visit its new website at tandsford.com.

Email Eddie Trizzino at etrizzino@timeswv.com and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.

News Reporter

Eddie Trizzino has been a reporter with the Times West Virginian since August of 2017, covering the entertainment, business and health beats. He spends most of his time listening to records, going to the movies and strolling through the town.