It was 1983 when Sidney Allen, owner of Allen Machinery Co., got crosswise with John Deere construction equipment. Mike Kelly, who was Allen’s service manager at the time, says, “They didn’t want him as a dealer anymore and they bagged and tagged him.”
As he prepared to close down his 3-store operation, Allen paid off his 12 managers who were vested in the company’s retirement program. He also asked which of them would be interested in partnering with him in starting a new Ford Tractor dealership. Mike Kelly says he’s the only one who raised his had.
“None of us had put anything into the plan,” says Kelly. “Sidney had covered it all and now he was handing me the largest check I had ever seen in my life.”
After originally requiring new dealers to have $150,000-$200,000 of “unencumbered” cash available, when Allen and Kelly meet with “the man from Ford Credit,” they were told that Ford would require new owners to demonstrate that they had at least $500,000 of unencumbered cash in the bank.
“I told him, ‘We can’t do that. We’ve got $200,000 unencumbered. It’s sitting here ready to go to work. We don’t have $500,000.’ He says, ‘This is our policy.’ I say, ‘What are we supposed to do with this $300,000?’ He says, ‘I don’t care, we just need to see it in your checking account.’”
As they drove away, Kelly says that the two of them discussed the situation and where the additional $300,000 was going to come from. Allen told him, “We can get this done. It’s not a problem.”
From there, the two drove straight to the bank in Longview and Allen pledged $300,000 in General Motors, Ford and other stock that he owned on a 30-day note.
“Sidney says to me, ‘Mike, I’m not going to make any interest on these, but I’m going to tie up these 3 stocks for up to 30 days and we’re going to put $300,000 in the checking account and we can show Ford Credit that we’ve got the $500,000 they want to see in the bank.
“The next day we go back to see the guy at Ford Credit and showed him the account where we had the $500,000,” Kelly says. “He says, ‘OK. That’s all I needed to see.” Then he reaches over, tears off a piece of paper, writes a number down and hands it to me. ‘Here’s your number. Go to work.’”
Kelly says that piece of scratch paper had his “magical Ford credit account number.”
That was on Jan. 31, 1986. He opened the dealership with himself and 3 other employees on Feb. 1. Shortly thereafter, Kelly sold his first tractor, which was a Ford 1310, 2-wheel drive unit that cost “maybe $7,500. He wanted a loader on it, but I tried to tell him not to put a loader on it because it didn’t have power steering. He says that’s what he wanted, so I sold it to him.”
Kelly says the second tractor he sold was to Hal Inman. “He owns the Peachy Keen here in Longview. It was a 3910 and he bought a Bush Hog cutter with it. He was just in here a couple of months ago to have some service work done on it.”
As for Sidney Allen, Kelly says, “He’s still alive. He’s still a good guy. He has a lot of real estate in the east Texas area. He’s a shrewd businessman and he was my partner when we opened up Kelly Ford and Tractor.”