Stafford Smith, left, and Rick Sargent pose for a photo after the award presentation at Smith Honda in Idaho Falls. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com
IDAHO FALLS – A local car dealership is celebrating 50 years of business in eastern Idaho.
Rick Sargent, the District Sales Manager for Smith Honda, presented an award to owner Stafford Smith Tuesday morning in honor of that milestone.
Smith tells EastIdahoNews.com he’s thrilled to be a part of the community and for the chance to serve customers in eastern Idaho.
“We love Idaho Falls. Idaho Falls is a great community with a great culture, wonderful people and amazing natural resources. We’re very happy and content to be an integral part of Idaho Falls,” Smith says.
Smith’s father, Albon, first opened Smith Honda in 1970 in a time when there weren’t many Honda dealers in the U.S. The first model he ever sold was the 2-cylinder 600cc.
Smith was in college at the time and he says they were really popular. Honda unveiled the Civic in 1973, which became the signature model and a huge money-maker for the dealership.
“It was comfortable. It was much larger than the original 600. It drove well and got great fuel economy and had outstanding reliability and longevity,” Smith recalls. “It really put Honda on the map in a major way.”
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Today, Smith Honda is part of The Smith Group family, which also includes Smith Chevrolet and Smith RV. Smith Chevrolet originally opened in 1921 and was the first business venture for the Smith family.
Stafford says his grandfather, David, had been a traveling salesman for many years and had been looking for a place to open a business. In 1917, he found a defunct car dealership and decided to purchase it. He attached his name to the business two years later and sold many different brands before becoming an official Chevy dealer in 1921.
“That makes us, potentially, the longest privately-owned Chevrolet dealer in the nation,” says Stafford.
One of the first locations for Smith Chevrolet was inside the building now occupied by the Bonneville Hotel. It later relocated to what is now City Hall. Its current location at 3477 Pioneer Drive opened in Oct. 2014.
The business celebrated its centennial with the community at Snake River Landing in 2019.
Stafford doesn’t remember the exact year Smith RV opened but says it’s about 25 years old.
“We’ve been a part of this community for a long time. We’re now into four generations, which is unusual,” Stafford says. “We’ve watched Idaho Falls grow from a tiny rural town to a prosperous city. To be in an industry that provides needed and appreciated service is rewarding.”
One thing Stafford is most proud of is the employees, many of which have been with the company their entire career. He hopes to see the business last another 50 years and looks forward to continuing the tradition of selling quality vehicles to customers.
Smith Honda sales team | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com
Smith Honda office staff | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com
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