When Larry Scott went to work at a Mount Airy car dealership in June 1964, the first Ford Mustang had rolled off the assembly line just three months earlier. Fifty years later, he’s still moving right along.
While the iconic Mustang has received many makeovers since the 1960s, Scott has remained a model of consistency at Scenic Motors Inc., the city’s Ford and Lincoln dealer.
“I can’t even think of not being here,” said Scott, the assistant parts manager of the business, where fellow employees decided to recognize him with a party this week in honor of the longevity milestone.
Working 50 years at the same job has become rare in modern times, punctuated by economic woes that have caused many businesses to close while employees have tended to move from job to job — if those positions can be found at all.
“You know, most people work at a place a few years…and they change jobs and they’re gone,” Scott’s boss, Scenic Motors Parts Manager Eddie Tucker, observed Tuesday afternoon.
“And Larry has been here all these years and hasn’t looked for another job,” Tucker said. “It’s a rarity these days.”
But Scott couldn’t envision it happening any other way.
“This is all I know — this is all I’ve ever done,” the longtime employee, who’ll turn 67 in October, said modestly.
The Mount Airy resident essentially has spent his entire working life at Scenic Motors, serving three generations of the Gough family that owns the dealership which opened in 1957.
“I went to work in the summer, June of 1964, while I was still in high school,” recalled Scott, who was only 16 at the time. “Rawley King was parts manager and he gave me my job.” Scott explained that this was part of a program in which he attended school and worked part-time.
The Scenic Ford dealership was then occupying space on U.S. 601/Rockford Street where Patterson Collision Center is now. “We moved up here in 1965,” Scott said of its present location a few doors away on the opposite side of the same street.
It almost goes without saying that the automotive industry has experienced a metamorphosis since 1964, which Tucker, the parts manager, compared to a Mayberry squad car from those days being judged against modern vehicles. “It’s day and night,” he said.
“That old black sheriff’s car that rides around town — that’s what Larry started with,” added Tucker, who has a long record of service himself at Scenic Motors, dating to 1972.
An automobile, which was a relatively simple machine in those days, is now a sophisticated piece of computerized technology, Tucker said, which has required increased knowledge among those on the parts and service side. “If you have a mechanical inclination, that really helps.”
Scott agrees that his job and the many innovations it reflects have required one to be a lifelong learner.
“We’ve got a lot of good people to work with us and help us with it,” he said. “We take classes every so often to keep us fresh with stuff — I’ve seen a lot of changes.”
But over the decades, Scott has relied on a simple philosophy for success which has stayed constant and been especially useful when a frantic vehicle owner needs a new water pump or is trying to find the right oil filter or spark plugs.
That involves listening.
“The key to being a good parts man is listening to your customers,” Scott said. “You’ve got to find out what they want, what they’re working on, what they need. Because that’s what keeps us in business.”
The veteran employee says support from his family — including wife Dorothy and their three children and three grandchildren — has helped him reach the 50-year milestone, and that much credit also goes to those who have run Scenic Motors.
“It’s almost like family,” Scott said. “I’m just glad I’ve been able to work with the company as long as I have.”
He added, “I couldn’t ask for anybody to be any better to me.”
And folks at the dealership are equally complimentary of Larry Scott.
“He has been very dedicated,” said Sheree Gough Beasley, the vice president of the business.
“He’s a good worker — I can’t say enough accolades about him,” Tucker, the parts manager, commented.
Scott said that despite being at retirement age, there are no immediate plans to leave the job he loves — but there’s a desire to make sure he is pulling his weight.
“I’d like to work as long as I am able and as long as I am able to do my job — I don’t want to be a burden on anybody,” he said.
“I can’t think of doing anything else.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.