FORT KENT - In 1988, Norman Martin was the vice-president at Frank Martin and Sons, Inc., a company he had been with for 15 years. When he found out Ouellet Ford was for sale, Martin dove in.
“I wanted to venture out on my own,” Martin recalled in a recent interview in his office at what is now Pelletier Ford. “Adjusting to a different industry was difficult, but I wanted to do it.”
Martin bought the Ford dealership in the spring of 1988 from Ludger Ouellet, who had been with the company since 1946.
Twenty-three years later, the dealership has changed families for only the second time in the 77 years it has been open, as Martin Ford has officially become Pelletier Ford.
For Martin, the idea to sell the dealership was a process.
“The Ford franchise has very strict criteria for a potential buyer for the dealership,” said Martin. Because of this, Martin said, he could not sell to just anybody.
“An owner of a dealership has to have business experience, the capital to keep the business going, and experience with cars,” he said. Enter Steve Pelletier.
“Steve is a great businessman,” Martin said when asked why he thinks Pelletier is the right person for the job. “He’s local, he’s involved, and he knows how to run a business.”
Prior to purchasing the dealership, Pelletier worked with his brother Keith for Pelletier and Pelletier, Inc., a local company involved in the woods industry. Pelletier was with the company for 25 years before moving on to the dealership this year.
When asked about retirement, Martin offers a chuckle.
“Retirement was never really a thought,” said Martin. “I never really wanted to retire, I loved the work and I loved what I was doing.”
Martin will stay on with the company for two more years to help Pelletier transition into the business. And after that?
“I’m not sure,” answered Martin when asked if he thinks he’ll be staying in the area. “It’s really hard to say right now.”