MONTICELLO — The prospective new owner of a longtime Monticello auto/truck dealership said he plans to retain all employees and the current locations of the business.
Bill Abbott Inc., which has been in business for 53 years, is being sold to Rick Ridings Inc., also of Monticello.
Abbott announced the pending sale to Ridings on Monday afternoon.
Ridings and Amy Ridings have held the Ford dealership in the Monticello market since 1996, when they bought Strohl Ford. With the purchase, they will add Abbott’s Chrysler and GM franchises that include Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Buick and Chevrolet.
Ridings said selling to a local owner was important to Abbott.
“This is an exciting time,” Ridings said. “I know Bill was excited somebody local would be purchasing it.”
Ridings said when he bought the Strohl dealership, he also retained the location and the employees.
The same will happen with this transaction.
Starting in the business in 1962 with GM as the Buick service and parts manager in the Chicago zone, Abbott, a Mansfield native, bought Monticello’s Buchanan Buick in 1967.
Bill Abbott Inc. now occupies buildings at 500 W. Center St. and 500 W. Bridge St.
Travis Fox, Abbott’s stepson, has served as general manager for the past several years.
Abbott, who is 83, said after he bought Buchanan Buick, he built a new building on Center Street, which is currently used by the dealership. He said he has seen a lot of changes in the business over the years.
“That’s a big deal,” Ridings said of how long Abbott has been in business in the same community. “You’re going to find very few” dealerships that have lasted that long.
Ridings said the auto business runs in his family. He started in the business at his father’s Taylorville dealership.
One thing he found attractive about the Strohl dealership before its purchase was its location near Interstate 72.
“Twenty-five years ago in March, me and Amy stood in front of the employees from Strohl Ford” and made their introductions.
He said he considers his employees family.
“We’re going to talk to each employee and give them an opportunity to stay here,” Ridings said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not hurt sales much at Ridings’ business.
“It’s really been OK considering everything going on,” he said. “We had to put in a lot more protocols for safety, which really wasn’t too bad.”
The only downside has been trying to find enough inventory.
“When the manufacturers get back up to speed it will be better.”