SPITZER ORGANIZATION

The SPITZER ORGANIZATION, one of the oldest automobile dealerships in Northeast Ohio, was established  by George Spitzer (1881-1945) a 1904 graduate of WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY.

After college, Spitzer farmed before also opening a hardware store with an attached livery stable in Grafton, Ohio.   That led to his connection with the automobile industry.  Henry Ford was travelling through small towns seeking businessmen to sell his Model T and while in Grafton people suggested to Ford that he meet Spitzer.  The connection with Henry Ford resulted in Spitzer marketing Ford automobiles as part of his business.   Eventually the dealership would become his primary focus. .

George Spitzer died in 1945 and the business was continued by his children.  By the 1950s, John Spitzer, one of George’s sons, had built the automotive side of the company into 14 stores in 4 states. In the 1950s the Spitzer Ford showroom in Cleveland became the largest dealership in Ohio. The store was so successful that the Ford company became suspicious, and sent out mystery shoppers to investigate; the sales pitch by Spitzer was so successful that one mystery shopper ended up purchasing a car. Ford then approached John and his brother Del Spitzer to make a two-hour training film outlining their 10-point sales plan.   The Spitzers also pioneered in advertising by television.  Most dealerships didn’t participate in television advertising when it started becoming popular due to the high cost.  This allowed the Spitzer dealerships to saturate television with their commercials, usually done by Del Spitzer which always ended with the tagline “I want to sell you a car, now!”

In the 1980s, John Spitzer turned daily operations over to his brother Del and Del’s son Alan. Under their leadership, they expanded the company to 30 dealerships representing a variety of auto manufacturers in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Besides dealerships, the family invested in other areas, including marinas, the Pheasant Run Golf Course in LaGrange, Ohio, Brentwood Lake Village development, and farms in Lorain and Medina counties.

Alan’s daughter, Alison began her career in the family business in 2007 when she became assistant to the general manager of the organization’s Homestead, Florida, location.    The recession of 2007-2008 changed the nature of the automotive retail system across the nation.  In 2009 General Motors and Chrysler terminated their contracts with thousands of dealerships including those with Spitzer.   Alison and Alan then led a grassroots national effort that resulted in the re-establishment of nearly 1,000 dealerships across the US.  They chronicled their effort in a book they co-authored, Grand Theft Auto

As of 2019 Alison Spitzer served as president of the organization and her brother Andrew as Vice President, and the company operated a series of six dealerships in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The Spitzer Organization was inducted into the ONE HUNDRED YEAR CLUB OF THE WESTERN RESERVE in 2015.

Gretchen Norton