Jeff Carlson

Glenwood Springs Ford

Inducted in

2021

After graduating from college, Jeff Carlson drove a Coors beer truck during the summer. A Ford parts representative who went to high school with him was hiring, and the job offered a salary, company car and expense account.

That sounded better to Jeff than driving a beer truck. By autumn, Jeff was offered a position by the assistant district manager at Ford, and he was off and running in the auto business.

During his first two years at Ford, Jeff worked a variety of positions. He was promoted to a sales position that covered central Wyoming. After two years, he was promoted to the Kansas City area, where he moved into a business management position.

The thought of having to relocate every couple of years to pursue a Ford career did not appeal to Jeff. A Kansas City dealer kept telling him that entering the retail arena would be a good move.

About that same time, Jack Nilsson, who initially hired Jeff at Ford, purchased a Ford dealership in Glenwood Springs. The then- 28-year-old Jeff packed up his pregnant wife and very young son and moved to the mountain town to become a sales manager there.

In late 1981, Jeff began buying interest in the Glenwood Springs dealership, which seemed like a good idea at the time. When Exxon pulled out of western Colorado in 1982, interest rates jumped to between 18 and 20 percent. That made for some interesting tales of financial — and dealership — survival. By 1986, Jeff was named president.

He was Colorado’s nominee for the 2005 TIME Dealer of the Year award. In 2016, he served as Chair for the National Automobile Dealers Association and oversaw its 100-year celebration. He sold the Glenwood Springs Subaru dealership in early 2021, and still owns a Ford store and is partner in another Ford dealership. His son Zach has joined him in the business at the Ford store.

Jeff believes change is constant, and the consumer will continue to drive market demand — not the media or government-mandated policies. Organizations representing and serving automobile dealers will continue to play an integral role in helping dealers implement new technologies in personal transportation.

Jeff Carlson