Ashmore Motors is a small dealership with a big heart. Due to its love and support for the community, Ashmore Motors has been named Small Business of the Year for 2020 by the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce and Tehachapi News.
Ashmore Motors is a father and son operation that first opened its doors in Tehachapi in 2014. Located in Old Town on South Street, the family-owned business is the only car dealership in town, and sells used cars and RVs to the surrounding communities and beyond.
Father Marlon Ashmore started selling cars in 1981, which he continued to do for 12 years until he went to work for the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi in 1995. He and his son, Brandon, are both native to the county.
"I think transportation is very important up here because we didn't really have a transit-type system like, say, in the city of San Francisco, where they have the subway, train and bus system," said Marlon.
"If a guy is living out in Bear Valley, and he has to get to work in town, what other options does he have? I feel like we are filling a need," he said.
According to Kenny Harrison, who nominated the dealership for the award, the Ashmores have since built long, lasting relationships with their clients and often have repeat customers.
"The locals have been pretty good to us," Marlon said. "We may not have that 100-car lot like in big cities, but a lot of times people will stop by and say, 'Hey, that's what I'm looking for.'"
The Ashmores encourage local folks to stop by and see what they have to offer before driving to the bigger lots in Bakersfield, as there is a chance they might have the right car, at the right price.
Said Marlon, "We are very thankful to the people that do give us a shot. We feel the community has supported us, and in turn, we try to support the community back."
In Harrison's nomination letter, he writes, "I believe Ashmore Motors deserves the recognition of Tehachapi's Small Business of the Year. They not only support multiple organizations; they support other businesses within Tehachapi. We should all take their lead and give back to our community."
Before selling their used cars, the Ashmores do all they can to make sure their vehicles are road worthy by soliciting the services of other local businesses such as the Tire Store, O'Reilly's, AutoZone, Napa, Tehachapi Window Tinting, Scott's Auto Body, DCS RV Center, Tehachapi RV & Cycle, Tehachapi Automotive, Speedy Car Wash and Protect Auto Services, according to Harrison.
"Ashmore Motors loves the town of Tehachapi, and believes in supporting other businesses and patronizing locally," writes Harrison. "They not only provide a service to the community, they serve the community and they serve it well. They have big hearts and believe in giving back. Their office is full of thank you's and plaques from many organizations."
Ashmore Motors employs PJ Kendrick, marketing representative, and Bob Mayberry, part-time sales. In addition, they recently hired a DMV clerk and an IT guy.
Asked what it means to to receive the award, Marlon expressed emotion, cleared his throat, and replied, "I'm pretty honored. I think about all the small businesses in this area, and there are a lot of small businesses, and I wonder why they chose us."
Brandon said he also felt honored... and surprised.
"I know a lot of people who have said that we give back a lot, because they always see us as a sponsor for volleyball, cheer, baseball teams, soccer teams, everything. I think that's important for a small business to do. Community is important to us, and we like helping out with the kids," Brandon said.
The car dealership's vast number of altruistic acts within the community was a major factor in why it received this year's award.
"Ashmore Motors supports the community in many ways and we look forward to honoring them for their contributions," said Ida Perkins, president of the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce.
According to Marlon, the small dealership has almost come to the point where it has outgrown its own lot.
"At some point, we are going to have to expand," said Marlon.
Ashmore Motors is located at 20917 South St. They can be reached at 823-4877. For more information, visit their Facebook page or website at ashmoremotors.com.