Home | Mission & Goals | Meeting Schedule | Search | Contact Us | Submit A Story | Links

Crouse Ford – Celebrating 75 years of service to the community

Danielle Ryan

(5/2016) Crouse Ford, located at 11 Antrim Blvd, is celebrating their 75th anniversary and grand re-opening on May 6 and May 7! What began as a small welding and repair business catered to local farmers has grown into the Ford dealership that it is today. Owned and operated by three generations, Crouse Ford has always remained a family business.

Crouse Ford began as a small business founded by George W. Crouse. George was one of fourteen children, eleven of those siblings being brothers. All the Crouse siblings attended Mud College, a one room school located in the Littlestown Area that still stands and is maintained by the Littlestown Historical Society. In 1931, at the age of 18, George opened the original business, "Crouse Ford" in its earliest form.

At 18, George possessed the skills of a welder and received a $500 loan from his older brother. He began his business by renting the Key Highway Garage on York Street in Taneytown. In the early days, business included the sale of necessities to motorists, welding and repairs to equipment and machinery of local businesses and farmers. The specialty of the business was painting top and body works and removing chains and steel tires for farmers.

In 1933, George moved his operation to the Central Garage near the square in Taneytown. This relocation provided room for complete vehicle service and the sale of new 1935 Fords as an associate dealer. The purchase of one of the first Marquette electric welders in Carroll County was used as a service for the farmers to cut off the steel wheels of tractors and then weld on a new steel rim for pneumatic tires. During this time, prices were much different. The price of labor was only $1.50 per hour, gasoline only cost 17 cents per gallon, chassis lube was priced at $1.25, 1 quart of oil only cost 25 cents, and a bottle of coke was only 5 cents!

Prices weren’t the only aspects that differed from our modern day life. During the earlier days of the business, Taneytown looked different in many ways, but in many ways remained similar to its present day self. A movie theater once resided in town, as well as a drug store. Many "mom and pop" stores lined the streets. The area was primarily rural, so the business catered mainly to local farmers. Today, there is no longer a movie theater, and many of the smaller businesses have migrated to the east side of town and most of the larger companies/businesses such as Flowserve and EVAPCO remained on the west side of town.

Tom Crouse, third generation Crouse family member, mentioned the change in population within Taneytown. "The graduating classes of the local schools back in the 1950’s consisted of 40 to 50 kids. Today these schools have graduating classes that contain 200 kids!" Both Tom and Kenneth Crouse (Tom Crouse’s father and son of George W. Crouse) mentioned the change in technology. In the early days of the business, the new vehicle models were all unveiled in the fall of each year. It was more of an event and showing to the public because this was the first time they were able to see the new inventory. Today, new vehicles, upgrades and improvements to vehicles are released throughout the year. The public is able to see everything online before it even hits the dealership lot.

However, the change in technology never stopped the business from continuing to grow and change. "Crouse Auto Sales and Service" was established after a move to 418 East Baltimore Street in 1940. The Ford franchise agreement was later signed on March 28, 1941 as Crouse Motor Sales. In 1947 the purchase of two adjacent lots provided a proper display of new and used vehicles. Then in 1964 a building at 441 East Baltimore Street was purchased for use as a sales office and showroom. During these years the business ran smoothly as a family operation with two sons, Kenneth and George, who were incorporated with their father in October 1963 as Crouse Ford Sales, Inc. During this time, the business included the renting and leasing of vehicles, in addition to the sale and trading of vehicles.

In November 1982, the business was ravaged by a fire that destroyed the body shop and half of the service department. The County consistently brought up the idea of closing the business after the fire, believing it was the best option, but the family wouldn’t have it. The most prevalent issue within the aftermath of the fire was that there was no place to service the cars. The family scrambled, and with the help of surrounding businesses was temporarily able to use the rear of the sales office at 441 East Baltimore St. for emergency service and repair. In time, a building on FSK Highway was leased from David Hess and was used as a service facility for the next several years.

Both Tom Crouse and Kenneth Crouse mentioned that the fire at the dealership was one of the most terrifying but most monumental moments in the businesses’ history. The business survived and the family managed to pull through the tragedy. "In times of trouble," Kenneth stated, "you really have to scramble to make things work and keep the business alive." And keep it alive they did.

In 1979, Kenneth and George Crouse purchased an eight acre site from Ellsworth and Genevieve Feeser on Antrim Blvd in order to build a new dealership. In December 1984, a new modern Ford dealership including sales, parts and service and a body shop was completed, and in February of the following year the grand opening was held. Tom Crouse remembers how many friends, family and customers showed up to the grand opening in support of the dealership. There were hundreds of people present, and they all loved the new building and new location at 11 Antrim Boulevard.

Another monumental moment within the 75 years of Crouse Ford was the purchasing of Cox Ford in Hampstead. The purchase and lease agreement on their building was negotiated December 1999 for the purpose of operating a satellite dealership. This location gave the company a better opportunity to serve more of Carroll County for several years until closing in February 2007.

In 2004, third generation members of the George W. and Pauline Crouse family, David, Michael, Thomas and Sharon were added to the Ford franchise agreement.

Operations of the dealership continue to be successful with high levels of customer satisfaction and owner loyalty as the dealer grows its customer base in the twenty-first century. Crouse Ford currently employees 39 people and are proud to say they have a low turnover rate for their employees, because employees love working for Crouse Ford. The Crouse family even has an "Honor Roll" plaque displayed in their showroom that includes the names of 27 retirees who have served the company for over 20 years. Tom Crouse smiled as he said that many retired employees still come into the dealership to visit because friendships are built in this dealership. Customers have declared how much they love coming into the dealership and being able to see friendly, familiar faces. It’s one of the many reasons customers love buying and servicing their vehicles here. Staff members are friendly and accommodating and wish to make the customers feel comfortable and satisfied.

In addition to maintaining the family business, the Crouse family is very dedicated to the community they serve. They support local youth sports teams, schools, churches and organized fundraisers. Whenever there is a community breakfast Crouse sends all employees over for a free breakfast.

Tom mentioned the fundraiser they do every year with Francis Scott Key called Drive One For Your School. The school gets $20 per test drive, meaning that every time a parent comes to the event and test drives a Ford vehicle, $20 goes back to the school. This is a great fundraiser for the school every year. Being active within the community is something that is very important to the family, and it shows how much the community of Taneytown means to the family.

Crouse Ford is continuing to grow and make necessary changes to their business in order to ensure the highest satisfaction of their customers. Most recently, in June 2015, a Ford supported renovation project began in order to achieve a better customer experience. A 400 square foot customer lounge was added along with a WIFI system, updated restrooms, and modern furniture throughout the showroom. The exterior was enhanced with aluminum architectural panels, a 29 foot tall entry tower, showroom vestibule and LED lit signage.

When asked to describe what Crouse Ford may look like in another 25 years for their 100th anniversary, Tom mentioned that he hoped there would be a continuation of a growing number of happy, satisfied customers and employees and more new and improved vehicles on the lot. He predicts that there may be a shift to the use of more electric-powered vehicles in the future. The family hopes that they can continue servicing our great community for generations of customers to come.

We encourage all our readers to come out and celebrate with the Crouse family on May 6 and 7 at Crouse Ford! True community service is valued - 75 years of service is unheard of and worth a community wide celebration!

To Read more articles by Danielle Ryan