Keen Ford to change ownership

Oldest franchise in Callaway family owned for 20 years

Keen Ford will soon change owners and names. Don Keeney, a 50-year employee and 20-year owner of Fulton's oldest franchised dealership, is selling the company to Chad and Christina VanNess, two out-of-town dealers who plan to rechristen the business as Fulton Ford.

Keen Ford will soon change owners and names. Don Keeney, a 50-year employee and 20-year owner of Fulton's oldest franchised dealership, is selling the company to Chad and Christina VanNess, two out-of-town dealers who plan to rechristen the business as Fulton Ford. Photo by Dean Asher.

After close to 50 years at Fulton’s Ford dealership — with 20 at its helm — Don Keeney has decided it was time to hang up the keys and sell Keen Ford.

Today Keeney plans to broker the final deal with Chad and Christina VanNess, two dealers with a family history of operating franchises in Iowa and the East Coast. After the deal, Keen Ford, Inc. will eventually become Fulton Ford, Inc.

“I’m 75 years old. I’ve been selling cars for 50 years. It was time to hang it up.”

Keeney said originally he offered the dealership to his daughter, Dana Allan, to take over after he retired, but she said the demands of running a dealership cut too sharply into time with her own family.

“When I first did it, for probably five years I was here from 6 in the morning to 6 at night,” said Allan. “I lost a lot of time with my daughter and it just got to be overwhelming. I took a little time off and I was like ‘wow, I’ve missed a lot.’”

Keeney said the job was demanding and that he often worked 65-70 hours a week, and that at his age he had become more relaxed and was not pushing the company forward as hard as he should.

So when the VanNess’ were in town looking at other interests and eventually made Keeney an offer, he began negotiating. They could not be reached for comment, but Keeney said their ownership would be good for the company.

“I think they will be much more aggressive, with more inventory, more aggressive sales and service,” said Keeney. “They’re definitely going to pick up the business, which it needs to.”

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