Out of more than 3500 Ford Dealers in the nation, Ford Motor Company chose to honor Bartow Ford Company owner and Vice President Benny Robles Sr. with his recent induction into the company’s Top Dealer Hall of Fame. Since 2017, Ford annually inducts five members into this Hall of Fame, selecting high performing dealers who show tremendous community leadership and pride in helping customers discover their next Ford model.
The Route to Success. Benny Sr.’s route to success was not easy. “I was born in Spain and lived there until I was about 4 years old,” he began.
When the Spanish Civil War began to affect his family, “my parents decided to move us to Cuba,” Robles Sr. continued. When he turned 14, the family began to feel as if they had jumped from a frying pan into the fire:
“My parents thought Castro was going to get overthrown, which would cause a revolution, so they sent me with a group of children, all without their parents, to a refugee camp in Miami.”
After one year in the camp, a foster family in Michigan welcomed him into their family. When he was a senior in high school, his parents finally joined him in the States, settling in Tampa. Robles Sr. joined his parents there, going to college at the University of South Florida.
After college, Robles Sr. took a job with Ford Credit and through that job, met the original owner of Bartow Ford, Ernest Smith. Smith opened Bartow Ford 74 years ago, developing the company around a simple idea – “When you take care
of the customers and you take care of the employees, everything else will take care of itself.”
Both Smith and Robles Sr. quickly found that they shared that philosophy, and so Robles Sr. joined the Bartow Ford family in 1977, and rose through the ranks, becoming one of the owners in 1985 – eventually becoming the majority owner as Smith’s health began to fail.
A Legacy. Today, Robles Sr’s son, Benny Jr. is the majority owner and President of Bartow Ford. “I am so proud that my father was honored with this award,” Robles Jr. said. “It is not only representative of the lifetime of devotion that my father has given to this company, but also of the teamwork and dedication of everyone in the Bartow Ford family.”