From Model T to hybrid Fusion, for nearly a center Nortz is synonymous with Ford
For nearly 100 years, the Nortz family has been putting people behind the wheel of Ford cars and
trucks at Nortz & Virkler Ford in Lowville. With a tried-and-true business philosophy — ‘You are only as good as your word’ — cousins Timothy
O. Nortz and Nicholas W. Nortz sat down with NNY Business to share their perspectives on the evolving automotive industry.
NNYB: What is one of your earliest memories of being at the dealership?
NICK: I think I sold my first car when I was 18; it was a 1978 Ford Fairmont Futura. The gentleman’s name was Irvin Deacon from Deer River, probably one of the toughest customers ever put on Earth. He traded every year and told you exactly what he was going to pay and no more. The car had to have the exact equipment the car he has previously had. If he couldn’t get that option you had to subtract that from the price or get him an option that was comparable. It was true salesmanship with that guy. He bought Fords from this dealership for probably 50 years, a car a year.
Timothy O. Nortz
JOB: Co-owner, president, Nortz and Virkler Ford, Lowville.
FAMILY: Wife, Marion, and two children, Heather, 23, and Matt, 19.
EDUCATION: Associate degree in automotive and business.
What vehicle do you drive? I’m walking. I sold my wife’s car a few months ago. I had someone interested in the car so I went and cleaned it out so for 2 months I’ve been walking.
NNYB: You’ve been in business for 96 years. What is some history behind the dealership?
TIM: The original paperwork for sales date back to 1916 right up through today. We have known the name of the person that bought it, the vehicle, name address, individual, we have the records right up through. It’s always been in our family. It started down the street where the Chrysler building. My grandfather and Arthur “Art” Virkler, who lived across the street, started the Ford franchise in Lowville here. Over the years my grandfather bought him out and had full ownership.
NNYB: The Model T was built in 1908 and you started about the time Henry Ford invented the assembly line, did you learn anything about that time of the business from your grandfather?
TIM: The Model Ts would come in by crate and you’d have to get them to the store. It was your responsibility to put it kind of together. You had to put wheels on and a steering wheel. The solid pieces were all there but part of the actual crate was used for floorboards of the cars.
NNYB: Through the years you’ve likely seen a lot of changes in the evolution of cars, any changes that you find particularly interesting?
TIM: The durability of cars. People complain about paying so much for vehicles but they are by far a lot better than when I started working on them in 1975.
NICK: When we used to have a cold snap in the winter we would come to work with Carhartt jackets on and start vehicles all day long. Now people have remote car starters. You used to have to set the choke, push down on accelerator then be there to hit the key.
Nicholas W. Nortz
JOB: Co-owner, vice president, Nortz and Virkler Ford.
FAMILY: Wife, Susan, and Nicholas R., 25, Lyndsey, 23.
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in business management and associate degree in automotive marketing.
What vehicle do you drive? My wife’s car is a Ford Edge, mine is a 1921 Ford Model T.
NNYB: What’s the most impressive innovation you’ve seen in your products?
TIM: Just about the time you think they do something great something bigger and better comes out. Now a motor will go 300,000 miles. We used to have to do valve jobs at 30,000 miles, we don’t do that anymore. Vehicles are built so much better. Just a year ago I drove around a pickup with 250,000 miles on it. I couldn’t sell it with that many miles but it worked fine. There was no reason someone couldn’t have bought it.
NICK: The biggest killer of the automobile today is the corrosion. That will kill them before anything else.