Paul Ricart, from Erie, PA had searched high and low for an opportunity to own a Ford dealership.
He had saved money and even borrowed from family members to reach this dream. Armed with the needed financial backing, Paul went back and forth negotiating with Ford Motor Company in Detroit. They (Ford) were very particular in accepting dealers. Although his conversations went well, it wasn't until a letter sent to Henry Ford from Paul’s wife Alta, did the process actually move forward. In her letter, she spoke of Paul's passion and that there wasn't another man in the United States who would make a better representation for the Ford product line. Ford awarded the franchise rights to Paul in early 1953.Traveling hundreds of miles and uprooting his family, he moved to Canal Winchester, Ohio with a dream and determination!Paul accepted and acquired the Solt dealership on July 3rd, 1953. He opened the very next day as Ricart Ford on July 4th with pride and excitement to be an owner of an American Automotive Dealership business. He announced his dealership in this town by driving his Ford Model A in the local 4th of July parade. Alta stayed at the shop to help any customers that may stop by. Although his first days were less than spectacular for sales, he continued to promote his business to the locals and joined many community activity groups.Lockbourne military base was nearby and Paul discovered that the community was very patriotic and supportive of the enlisted men. So Paul offered special deals for the military base and business began to pick up. He had a regular flow of military enlistees in addition to appreciative civilians in the area.Not only did Ricart Ford sell vehicles, he also serviced them for those that didn’t want to purchase a new or used car. His lot began to swell with deliveries from Ford, used trade-ins, and vehicles for service. Shortly thereafter, Paul realized that he may need more space to accommodate his growing business.Knowing the support he had received from the area, Paul searched for “local” land to build a larger service and sales lot. A very short two years after opening his business, in 1955 he found a new location at Bowen Road and St. Rt. 33 just on the outskirts of Canal Winchester. He saw that the Air Force Base was dwindling in size and he needed a new plan. His vision was to continue serving the local area, but open up business to passers by on the newly added “freeway” of Route 33.It worked! Paul began to promote to the high volume of traffic on the traveled roadway and business grew again! This was just the beginning for the name of Ricart Ford!The dealership was growing rapidly and so was Paul's family! He had a son, Paul Fredrick Ricart, Jr (aka Fred) and two daughters Robin and Susan. They all spent time around the dealership as a family, but they also had involvement in many community activities as a family.As the business grew, so did the family and Paul always looked to the future for both. He was a visionary who constantly looked for the next opportunity. The future for the business was just to the North and West. Just twenty miles away was the Ohio Capital City of Columbus. Paul knew that he wanted to reach this audience eventually, but he would never forget the very town that gave him a chance. So in 1965, he found a 40-acre parcel of land at the intersection of S.R. 317 and Rt 33 which was right between his current location and the pulsating population of Columbus. Everyone thought he was crazy for purchasing such a large piece of land in the “middle of nowhere” and most were certain that this could be the dealerships demise.Now with 5 kids and a seemingly ever-expanding dealership as well, it came time to Involve the kids into the business. Although the daughters had little interest, Fred and his younger brother Rhett jumped at the chance to enter the family business. Fred began as a salesman and part-time mechanic, and Rhett (too young to drive) showed an attraction to the books with accounting and business skills. The youngest brother, Pete did anything he could to help with the lot too.Fred left home in 1969 to study science and Biology at Case Western Reserve. Within a few years, Rhett would leave to study Marketing at The Ohio State University. Pete found himself tinkering with engines and was heading down a path to racing. It seemed that the dealership was running with Paul Sr., at the helm and all was good.Late in the decade of the 70’s Paul’s wife (Alta) took ill and needed to retreat to a southern climate. This caused Paul to ask his children to take over the dealership.