MORRISTOWN — “The Dealer for the People” is broadening its East Tennessee footprint with the addition of Farris Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, Dodge in Morristown.
New signage replacing its predecessor, Royston Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, is in development as are possible changes in sales and service hours, all of which will be geared toward customer convenience.
“We are excited to expand our family brand into more of the Lakeway region,” said Johnny Wayne Farris, president of Farris Motor Company, based in Jefferson City. “We are committed to serving customers who want and need a nicer, newer car and we work with them to make that a reality. We welcome Royston customers, along with anyone and everyone who wants to be listened to when making a vehicle purchase. We realized some time ago that those shopping for vehicles often feel as if salespeople are trying to get them in the first thing they see, and that is just not how we operate.”
While he is proud of the fact his family owns one of the world’s oldest Chrysler, Jeep, Ram franchises — “in the top 15,” he noted when asked — Farris is succinct about its meaning.
“Oh, it’s important to us, but not that much to anyone else,” said the past president of the Tennessee Automotive Association, which represents both new and used vehicle dealerships across the state. “What matters to customers is that you’ll take care of them and work hard to provide them a good selection of vehicles to meet their needs. That’s the legacy I am most proud of and it’s what we carry with us into serving the Morristown area.”
Customer commitment took on a new meaning in 2011 when Jason Farris stepped into helping his dad run the 90-year-old operation as general manger. He earned his way to dealer principal over time, becoming the public face of the operation, a/k/a The Dealer For the People. The role quickly morphed from what some misunderstood as a quirky marketing concept to a new brand.
“When we look at the more than 650 Google reviews we have, with an average of 4.7 stars out of a possible five, we say, ‘Well, we must being doing some things right,’” said Jason, a fourth-generation Farris car dealer.
The family’s commitment to the Lakeway precedes the lakes for which the region is called, and even TVA itself. It dates back to 1931 when O.W. “Wayne” Farris decided to leave Knoxville, where he had run a Central Avenue repair shop with his cousins, to open his own garage in New Market. His successes included moving to Jefferson City, becoming a DeSoto and Plymouth automobile dealer before the attack on Pearl Harbor drew the United States into World War II, as well as adding a GMC truck franchise to the company. The dealership became a second generation family business when his son Johnny left an Oak Ridge job to join him in 1945. Wayne passed the reigns to Johnny 20 years later.
Johnny Wayne joined the enterprise in 1972, the same year the dealership began selling Dodge cars and trucks. As his dad had back in the ‘40s, the younger Farris began his automobile career in the service and parts departments. The advent of a new, four-lane Highway 11E lured the Farrises in 1977 to build a new automobile facility, which Johnny Wayne took over as dealer/owner when his father retired in 1988.
Other accomplishments have included the addition of Jeep to the line and recognition as Tennessee’s first full-line Chrysler dealer to earn the corporation’s prestigious Five Star Award for Excellence. “That’s my point,” said Jason. “Our dedication to taking care of people is part of our history, it’s why we exist today and is the reason that we can grow to take care of even more customers with this expansion.”
Those who shop online are asked for preliminary information that begins the sense of connection and relationship. The second stage begins when a local scheduler makes an appointment for them with a salesperson.
“We are happy for folks to come look as they wish but we never want them to feel like they have to wait on someone to pay attention to them,” said Johnny Wayne. “The car business is the attention business.”
Jason added to his father’s explanation, saying, “We have what we call the ‘Perfect Timing Car Buying Process,’ so we provide the best automobile at the right price, be it a preowned vehicle or a brand new Jeep, Ram Truck, Chrysler or Dodge, at the ideal time for the buyer.”
Johnny Wayne said he and Jason are excited to add the Morristown location to their family business. “We are grateful to Leroy Royston and his team for taking care of people in and around Hamblen County for 27 years. We are pleased to continue our family commitment to match customers with the vehicles they need.”