THE HISTORY OF Preston Hood Chevrolet, Inc.

Starting our next 40 years as part of the reinvention of GM. Preston Hood Chevrolet, Inc. will be a part of the re-birth of GM & Chevrolet on the Gulf Coast. Now a look back at our roots that made Preston Hood Chevrolet, Inc. a leader for Chevrolet.


When a customer drives away in a new car or truck from Preston Hood Chevrolet, Inc. in Fort Walton Beach, the sale is backed by a commitment of quality service and superior customer satisfaction. That commitment is more than just good business; it is a legacy that was founded eighty years ago, and over time, it has never wavered.

In 1929, Arthur E. Hood could see past the struggles of the Great Depression and recognized that the automobile industry held promise for the future. He opened a Chevrolet dealership in space rented from a livery stable in Amite, La., with hopes and dreams of providing for his family during an economically troubling time.

Arthur served as the only salesperson, and his word was as good as his name. Soon the dealership flourished, and the cornerstone of the Hood legacy was secured for years to come.

Clearly, Arthur understood the fundamentals of operating a successful automobile dealership. He knew that if you always delivered quality service after the sale, you would build your customer base and earn the right to serve your customers for life. He often shared this principle, along with his strong belief in community service and philanthropy, with his family, including his sons, Arthur E. Hood Jr. and Thomas J. Hood.

After serving in World War II, Arthur Jr. and Thomas were pleased to join their father in the dealership, and together they grew what had become a family business in southeast Louisiana.The second generation of Hood auto dealers continued to foster a steadfast belief in the automobile market, and in February 1962, Arthur Jr. and Arthur Sr. purchased a dealership in Fort Walton Beach. Seven years later, Arthur Jr.’s son, Preston, purchased the Florida dealership from his father and grandfather, and Preston Hood Chevrolet, Inc. was born.

“I came down here from Amite and I was only 26 years old. I owed a lot of money and I wasn’t worth a lot of money, “Preston recalls. But with that undeniable Hood determination, he set out to make his dealership a success.

One year later, the United Auto Workers strike occurred and the overall industry was hit hard and the independent dealers even harder. Preston recalls that the 60-day strike ceased production of cars, leaving him with an empty lot. “It was a difficult time for the dealership, but we weathered the challenge, only to see business grow stronger in the 1970s than ever before,” he says.
As the early 1980’s unfolded, the country was, once again, facing economic uncertainty. Record interest rates were a blow to the automobile industry. However, by relying on the same sensibilities and extending the Hood commitment that his grandfather used in founding the company during the harshest of economic times, Preston Hood Chevrolet, Inc. succeeded.

In 1991, Preston’s son Taylor joined the company, following college, creating another generation of father-and-son Hood teams. “By the time I was in eighth grade, I began working at the dealership. In the years following, I worked in every single department. It’s what I have always known, and what I have always wanted to do,” says Taylor.In recent years, Preston has continued to focus on the future by opening Preston Hood Chevrolet, Inc. in Biloxi, Miss. in December 2003.

As history repeated itself, the dealership faced adversity when Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the late summer of 2005. But in 2006, in true Hood fashion, the dealership reopened with a new state-of-the-art facility, joining in the much-needed rebuilding efforts of the storm-ravaged town.Preston Hood Chevrolet, Inc. has also grown the company’s sales programs by opening its virtual doors. The company’s web site, www.prestonhood.com, has fast become a successful retail center for the dealership, expanding Preston Hood sales to a regional scope. The site is one of the most efficient auto dealer locations online. As well, each member of the sales team has a tablet for conducting business; however, personal contact and the trademarked Preston Hood customer service continues to be a priority.

To be sure, the company has experienced its share of changes with the times … and challenges because of the times, but it has always persevered. Preston finds that the dealership’s ability to stay the course comes from many factors, including its people. “One thing we are most of proud of is that of our 70+ current employees, more than a third have been with us for more than 10 years, and 14 employees have been with us for at least 20 years,” he says. “We hire good people, the right people. We want to offer more than a paycheck to our employees; we strive to offer respect and fairness, and that results in a fulfilled, stable team. In turn, that team creates consistency in service for our customers.”

Preston adds that it is a good feeling to be proud of the people, service and product that, like his grandfather, he continues to put his name behind. He smiles as he reflects on the past 40 years and says his grandfather would be pleased at how the dealership has continued to be steadfast and successful. But mostly, Preston is proud that each of the tens of thousands of cars sold at Preston Hood Chevrolet, Inc. has served as a testament to Arthur E. Hood Sr.’s legacy – a family’s commitment to providing the best possible customer service.


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