If you’ve lived in the Valley for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of the Earnhardt automobile dealerships. Founder Tex Earnhardt celebrated 65 years of Earnhardt Auto Centers in September.
Tex Earnhardt, now 85, grew up in southern Texas and started his career as a professional rodeo cowboy. In 1951, at age 20, Tex joined the rest of his family in a move to Arizona. Tex opened a gas station in Chandler and also sold auto parts before he opened a Ford dealership. According to the Earnhardt website, Tex literally started his business one car at a time. He could only afford to stock one car and didn’t acquire another car to display until the first one sold.
Over the years, Tex’s persona became widely known in the Valley along with his trademark advertising slogan, “that ain’t no bull” – ultimate truth in advertising because the “bull” he rode in the commercials was a steer.
From these modest beginnings, Earnhardt Auto Centers grew to what is now the Southwest’s largest automobile empire, according to the Earnhardt website. The organization now sells more than 48,000 vehicles annually, representing 18 different brands: Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Maserati, Mazda, Toyota, Scion, and Volkswagen. Earnhardt Auto Centers now has 22 dealerships located throughout the Valley and in Prescott Valley and two new locations in Las Vegas.
Looking forward, Earnhardt Auto Centers plans continued expansion, according to their website. “In the 65 years that we have been in such a business with its many ups and downs, we have weathered the storms by continuing to think big and by spending to get and keep customers and employees,” Tex says in an article on the Earnhardt website. “We pay the best, advertise the most, stay open the longest, and we promise and deliver the number one customer experience – and that ain’t no bull!”
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