Monette Ford celebrates 50 years

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Food, festivities and families marked the 50th anniversary of Monette Ford Auto Dealership in Socorro on Aug. 23. Owners Chuck and Charlotte Monette, and family, received a 50th anniversary plaque from Ford Motor Credit, and an engraved clock from the Socorro Chamber of Commerce.

Danny Monette kicked off the presentation "family style," requesting karaoke and spontaneous jokes from the audience. He sang to his wife, Marliss, and credited her with mostly organizing the celebration. He also acknowledged the crowd — as patrons of the dealership — and the support of a family-oriented community for their success over the years.

A young Chuck and Charlotte Monette purchased the dealership, then called S&M Ford, in 1963. The Ford dealership had been known as Oliver Motors before it was S&M Ford. At that time and throughout the past 50 years, there have usually been about four automobile dealerships in Socorro. According to Chuck Monette, that was a good thing.

"The loss of competition has hurt us in the last five to 10 years," Chuck said. "Customers need somewhere to shop, and without competition (here), a lot of them go to Albuquerque."

Business has been tough for Monette Ford for the last five years. The economy has of course played a role, not only directly, but indirectly. Business started getting harder, and if a dealer wasn't making it, they had no one to sell the dealership to, so they would simply shut down.

"We're the only ones who've been dumb enough to stay open," Chuck said with a chuckle.

Others see the Monettes' stamina in the community as strength. Not only does the dealership serve the community and the surrounding area through vehicle sales and service, but also as strong supporters of the community. In fact, Monette Ford has won numerous awards over the last 50 years, including the Ford Motor Company's President's Award three years in a row. That particular award is based on customer satisfaction, derived from customer surveys sent out by the company. Ford Motor Company no longer gives out this award.

In the last 50 years, Chuck estimates that the dealership has sold over 20,000 vehicles. Monette Ford currently employs 32 people. There were times in the past they had as many as 58 employees. Many have gotten their start at Monette Ford; others have finished their career there.

When asked about future plans, Charlotte Monette said, "We are just hanging on. Chuck is looking forward to retirement, and turning it (the dealership) over to the boys."

Charlotte has been mostly retired for a couple of years, although she still spends time in the office about once a week.