The iconic TV commercials of Cal Worthington and his “dog” Spot, which was often portrayed as a tiger, hippo, or chimpanzee, are etched in the memories of many Americans. While intentionally cheesy, the ads helped to build an auto dealership empire that once spanned nearly 30 locations across Alaska, Texas, and California. However, with the recent sale of Worthington Ford in Long Beach to the Nouri/Shaver Automotive Group, the last remaining vestige of Cal Worthington’s empire is set to wind down.
After Decades in Business, Worthington Ford to Permanently Close by February’s End
Cal Worthington passed away in 2013 at the age of 92, and his grandson, Nick Worthington, who currently serves as dealer/president of the company, has announced that the Long Beach dealership has been sold to Nouri/Shaver Automotive Group, with the deal set to close on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The dealership will be renamed BP Ford, and while the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, all 130 employees who wish to stay on will be retained, although they will need to reapply for their jobs.
Nick Worthington said the decision to sell was not an easy one, but the right group came along that seemed like a great fit for the employees.
He stated, “It was important to us that they keep all of the employees with the same benefits. And it’s good for the city of Long Beach, too. This group is very interested in high-volume sales, so the city will see excellent revenue.”
City Councilman Daryl Supernaw added that Worthington Ford has been a strong economic force in the city, and he’s pleased that the dealership will remain intact with its current workforce under new ownership. With the acquisition of Worthington Ford, the Costa Mesa-based Nouri/Shaver Automotive Group now owns 17 Southern California dealerships in communities such as Van Nuys, Chino Hills, Huntington Beach, and Anaheim.
The Company Also Acquired Winn Chevrolet in Carson in November
Armina Mgerian, the CEO and partner of Nouri/Shaver Automotive Group, said the company was formed in 2015 when Bob Nouri sold his 20 dealerships in Oklahoma to move to Southern California to be with his ill mother. The company has been looking for dealerships that were in the right areas but were not performing well based on sales volume. They also acquired Winn Chevrolet in Carson in November.
Cal Worthington’s rise to success was as adventurous as a Hollywood movie. Born in Bly, Oklahoma, in 1920, Worthington grew up dirt poor as one of nine children. Dropping out of school at 13, he secured his first job as a water boy on a road construction crew for 15 cents an hour. At the start of World War II, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and saw combat as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot. He rose to the rank of captain, was awarded the Air Medal five times, and also received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Cal Worthington Commercial- VIDEO
Worthington couldn’t become a commercial pilot because he didn’t have a college degree, but he later sold used cars in front of the post office in Corpus Cristi, Texas, where he began to perfect the folksy sales techniques that would ultimately catapult him to success. In 1949, he moved to Huntington Park, where he established the Hudson Motor Car Co. That eventually morphed into the Worthington Dealership Group, which saturated late-night TV with Cal Worthington commercials. His first franchise car dealership in Los Angeles was founded in 1951, and the Ford location in Long Beach was purchased in 1974. Worthington went on to expand his auto empire to far-flung locales such as Anchorage, Alaska, Reno, Nevada, Sacramento, and Houston, among others.