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Moody Motor Company, Inc.Moody Motor Company, Inc. Contact: Mathew Moody
History of Moody Motor Company
Today Moody Motor Company is located in a spacious new building with a blue roof and awning to match the blue oval Ford logo, and is the first business people see when they enter Niobrara from the west along Highway 12. With over 150 vehicles on the lot, four sales associates, 20 employees, six sales offices, a front desk receptionist, office staff and service department with current diagnostic and repair equipment, a state of the art technical training room, factory-certified technicians, a show room floor large enough to display five vehicles, kitchen, comfortable lobby and a body shop with hoists, paint booth, frame machine and an office, Moody Motors has come a long, long way. The story of the small town Ford dealership has been a page turner.
Moody Motor Company has been a Niobrara fixture since Ralph Moody founded the business in 1955. Since then three generations of Moody’s have been at the helm of the company from the time it started in the “Old Town” of Niobrara.
Ralph was an experienced mechanic from being a crew chief in the U.S. Army Air Corp from 1939-1946 and when he returned home from the war he kept with the practice by working for Miller Brothers Ford in Hartington and Huey Ford in Osmond.
In 1955 Ralph and Irene Moody moved their family from Osmond to Niobrara and founded the Moody Motor Company Ford/Mercury dealership. They rented an old brick building on the west edge of town in the “old Niobrara”. Ralph and Irene managed their Ford dealership side by side for many years, until their son Gary Moody joined the company. Gary had worked in the dealership from the time he was a young boy; washing cars, sweeping the floor and helping out where ever he was need then he eventually graduated to body work. After coming home from the U.S. Army in the fall of 1968, he decided to go in to business with his father.
On a cold, dark early morning in January of 1974, the fuel oil furnace malfunctioned and started a fire that resulted in the Ford garage burning to the ground. When it was eventually discovered, the flames were reaching above the treetops and lighting up the town. Explosions of barrels of paint thinner sound through the town like claps of thunder. The water mains were frozen so the fire department couldn’t get adequate water through the hoses to extinguish the flames and the garage was a total loss.
At this time the town of Niobrara was in the process of preparing to move to higher ground due to the high water table and relentless flooding. Ralph and Irene decided to move their business to the new town instead of rebuilding in the old town after the fire. There were four full time employees besides Ralph, Irene and Gary; they all banded together and kept the business running in the old town working out of the old International building and the back of Kemp’s Service while the new building was be constructed. Construction was finally completed in March of 1975.
After getting into their new building, they continued to make improvements over the years. The gravel car lot was replaced with concrete, also a clean-up area and a technical training room was added.
Gary began purchasing the business in October of 1989 and his son Matt returned from college and joined the sales staff in the spring of 1996. All three generations were under one roof working together.
A significant addition to the company was the construction of the body shop in 1999. It contains three hoists, a paint booth, paint mixing machine, a frame machine and an office area. The following year the show room was remodeled. The storage area upstairs was torn out and the ceiling was raised making the area appear more spacious. Two more offices were added and many other updates were completed.
In the fall of 2001 Ralph and Irene retired from the business and Gary took over full ownership without knowing the unforeseen devastation of yet another fire in January of 2003. The fire started by a battery backup on a computer in one of the offices. The parts room, shop and clean up areas were spared because of the firewalls but the showroom and offices were a total loss. When the fire was contained, Gary instructed for clean up to begin, the telephone company worked into the night and Moody Motor Company was back in business the next day. The salesmen and office employees relocated to the new body shop building, setting up make-shift offices and business was conducted as usual. The cleanup and reconstruction took several months but by October of that same year, the building was completed and had a whole new look.
A new chapter in the life of Niobrara’s Moody Motor Company had begun. Matt Moody and his brother-in-law, Alan Kemp, who had been a salesman at the dealership since 1998, began purchasing the business from Gary in 2004. Gary retired from the business and Matt and Alan took over full ownership in 2008.
Most recently the Moody Motor Company has added an east campus just a block down from the dealership. Knori’s service building was purchased and remodeled for an additional service technician to solely care for the vehicles in their inventory. They have also added an internet department to manage internet leads and the Moody Motor website, to keep up with advancing technology.
The three generation of Moody men with their wives, families and employee have put blood sweat and tears in to this dealership over the last six decades. Gary attributes the dealership’s success and longevity to hard work and according to Matt, one of the best qualities that Moody Motor Company has is the ability to accept change, longevity of the employees and treating customers as if they were family.
The future of Moody Motor Company looks promising.
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