History of Long-Lewis
In the spring of 1911, Bessemer was a brawling young industrial
city. Business was good, but in order to promote more business, several
downtown merchants decided to raffle one of the new-fangled "Horse-less
carriages" to their customers. For several months customers received
raffle tickets with each purchase.
Tradition has it that on March 15, 1911 the drawing was held at the intersection of second Avenue and Nineteenth Streets. According to an old-timer the individual who won it had been quoted earlier as having said, "I don't want that thing around my house! Might scare my chickens so they won't lay eggs! And besides, it's dangerous. What if it stopped on the railroad tracks while a train was coming?"
William J. Long, one of the participating merchants, was in the crowd. Long was an "experienced motorist," having acquired a two cylinder International the previous year. He purchased the car, a Model T Ford, from the winner and drove it down Second Avenue to the wagon and buggy shed at Long-Lewis Hardware Company.
The car was used in the hardware business and for
advertising until, on a Sunday afternoon drive, sure enough-it stalled
on the railroad tracks near Powderly and was destroyed by a train. The
occupants escaped unharmed.
Even though he had bad luck with his first Ford, Mr. Long was
convinced that the automobile was the vehicle of the future. He
determined to add Fords to his line of buggies and wagons. Fords were
shipped to Birmingham in box cars. The wheels were put on them at the
railhead and they were then driven to Bessemer.
In 1915 Henry Ford began granting franchises to dealers, and one of
the first franchises he granted was to Long-Lewis Hardware Company. Both
the hardware and the automobile business were good, for in 1918 the
company was able to declare a 100 per cent dividend.
In 1921, a two story addition was added to the hardware building to
house the Ford Division of Long-Lewis Hardware. And then in 1965, The
Ford Store moved to Bessemer Super Highway. In January of 1999,
Long-Lewis built its new 84,000 square foot facility at 2551 Highway 150
in Hoover. We sincerely focus on creating an environment that promotes
Customer Retention and Complete Customer Satisfaction. As a result, the
Long-Lewis Ford currently has more Ford Motor Company President's Awards
for Customer Satisfaction than any other dealer in the nation.
Mr. Long had a saying, "Truth is a divine attribute, the foundation of every virtue", which he applied to every facet of his business and personal life. This has been carried on into the present ownership, and it is no doubt the reason that Long-Lewis has enjoyed the success that it has since its founding.