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A centerpiece of the Randolph business community is changing names after nearly 90 years. Brothers Lee and Doug Jenior have sold their Ford dealership on S.R. 44 to Sarchione Auto Sales of Alliance.
While the name on the building is changing, the familiar faces are remaining. Lee and Doug Jenior are staying on with other employees.
"Everybody's staying," Lee said. "I wouldn't know what to do if I wasn't working."
It's a transition from one long-time automobile family to another, Lee noted.
The Sarchione family started in the car business in 1917 when John Sarchione Sr. started a car lot in Alliance. It has remained a family business.
"We were born and bred in the business," Joe Sarchione said.
He and his brother John became sole owners of the business in August 2010.
Lee and Doug Jenior said they'd been thinking of the future of their business for some time.
"We both have kids but they all went in different paths" than the car business, Lee said.
Doug said the sale came at the right time. "We'd been talking. What if something happened to one of us? It would be hard for one of us to operate (the business) at the same level."
The Ford dealership in Randolph actually started in 1921, but grandfather John A. Jenior bought out two other partners two years later, starting a family-owned business that has been operated by three generations.
"They sold Fordson tractors and Model T's," Lee said. "They picked up crated cars at the Cleveland rail yard and finished assembling them in Randolph," he said.
Before going into the car business, John Jenior owned a grocery store in Akron, Lee said.
John Jenior died in 1950 at age 58. The next year his sons, Lamar and Louis, and daughter Isabel, took over the business.
"Dad (Lamar) ran sales, Lou ran service and Isabel ran the office," Lee recalled.
The new owners, John and Joe Sarchione, often bought used cars from the Jeniors for their large used car operation in Alliance.
"We'd been looking for a dealership to buy," said John. Last spring he was looking at some trades with Doug Jenior and he mentioned they were looking, "And Doug said 'what about this one?'"
The talks culminated in the sale and the transition. Wednesday morning, the dealership was busy inside and out as the Jenior name came off the building and workers remodeled the showroom.
Inside, Joe and John Sarchione, and John's wife Alex, were busy with a marketing representative from Ford.
They will probably have a grand opening early next year, Joe said.
They plan to keep the parts, repair and body shop. They also plan to expand their inventory of new vehicles.
"We plan aggressive prices on new cars, volume sales, Joe said.
The Randolph location will give buyers access to the Sarchiones' extended inventory of used vehicles from their lot on S.R. 62 on the east side of Alliance where they sell about 150 vehicles a month. Lee was impressed with the Sarchiones' strong internet sales program, with buyers looking for and buying vehicles online.
"We didn't have that. We're old school car guys," he said.
It is always good to at least see these pioneer business ventures in Portage county staying in business against the odds with all of the mega dealerships surrounding the area. Same goes for the longtime mom and pop family run specialty stores. I commend the people who have been the heart and soul of our Portage county community for so long that manage to stay in business and carry on the tradition.