PARIS — Ripley & Fletcher Co., the oldest continuously operated Ford dealership in New England, has been sold.
The deal was sealed Tuesday between former owner Harold Jones of Norway and new owner Bill George of Bath for the purchase of the Route 26 business. The sale had been in the works for the past six months.
“I'm really excited about this,” said Joe Galletta, son-in-law of the new owner and a managing partner in the business. Galletta and his wife and daughters live in Durham.
Attempts to reach George were unsuccesful Friday.
The business will be renamed Ripley & Fletcher Ford Dealership. All 31 employees in the sales, service and body shop departments will be retained, and in the short run about three people will be hired, primarily in floor and Web sales, he said. More employees are expected to be added over time.
“We're definitely bringing in more jobs,” Galletta said.
He said in addition to creating a new logo and adding jobs, the plan is to expand the company's Web presence.
“It will open up the dealership to a much wider audience,” he said. For example, the dealership just purchased a used Lexus 460 worth about $45,000 that may not be viable for most local residents but could be a car that someone in Massachusetts might be looking for, he said.
The company was started in 1909 by Perley Ripley, who sold the first Ford in 1910 to George Atwood, owner and publisher of the Oxford Democrat. Ten cars were sold that first year.
There were a few other owners before Harold Jones of North Norway purchased it in 1976.
The dealership building, still in its original location at 80 Main St., had a total renovation completed in 1989.
Galletta said he is looking forward to becoming an active member of the community.