Reed Brothers Automotive in Rockville Maryland Celebrates 96 Years in Business

Top Quote Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States; the Green Bay Packers did not yet exist; the United States was two years away from joining World War I; the cost of a stamp was two cents, and Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland was founded. End Quote
    QuoteServing Montgomery County Maryland Since 1915Quote
  • Bethesda-Frederick-Gaithersburg, MD (1888PressRelease) October 30, 2010 - It is a family business history that parallels the evolution of the American automobile industry itself. Now in its 96th year, Reed Brothers was franchised as a Dodge dealership in 1915; only one year after the first Dodge automobile was made. Few people jumped onto the Dodge Brothers bandwagon earlier than Lewis Reed. In 1914, Lewis Reed became a partner in Rockville Garage, a business he bought out in 1918. Lewis Reed and his brother Edgar, who later joined him in business in 1919, were the first to sell Dodge cars in Montgomery County Maryland.

    In 1928, when Walter P. Chrysler took over after Horace and John Dodge died, Lewis Reed became an original member of the Chrysler family. There were two critical periods in their history, World War II and the Great Depression. By 1929, the year of the stock market crash that began the Great Depression, nobody could afford to buy cars. Like most other businesses, the Great Depression hit hard and Reed Brothers had to rely on its Service Department to make ends meet. But, the dealership survived through these lean times.

    During World War II, all U.S. car manufacturers stopped production of cars in order to concentrate on equipment for the military. Reed Brothers had no new cars to sell for three and a half years. Survival meant the dealership had to rely on other means. When manufacturers halted car production and many dealers went bankrupt, Lewis Reed converted his car showroom into a display room and sold GE washing machines and other large appliances to fill in the gap. The first car after the war was the 1946 Dodge, which sold for about $800.

    Initially, Reed Brothers sold Oldsmobile and Hudson, along with Dodge. Later they became Dodge Plymouth dealers. The first Plymouth was built in 1928 and Plymouths were sold at Reed Brothers until 1969, when the Plymouth car was given to the Chrysler dealers. Reed Brothers has also sold Gulf gasoline. In fact, the company was the first Gulf gas dealer in the Washington, D.C. area, selling gas at its original location in Old Rockville at the triangle at Viers Mill Road and Rockville Pike, across from St. Mary Church.

    Reed Brothers has occupied two locations, the present one at 15955 Frederick Road, Rockville and the original one that stood at the triangle where Hungerford Drive, Viers Mill Road and Route 28 intersect. In fact, Dodge Street in Rockville got its name because Reed Brothers Dodge was located there for so many years. The original site is now the Francis Scott Key Memorial Park. When the state widened the roads in 1970, the dealership moved to its present location on Route 355 at the Shady Grove Metro.

    The dealership began as a family business and remains that way today. Lewis Reed's daughter, Mary Jane, married Lee Gartner, who joined the business in 1949. Lee Gartner graduated from Strayer College with a degree in business and continued the business as Dealer Principal after Lewis Reed died in 1967. Three of Gartner's four children are all current owner-operators in the business today to make it a third generation of family management.

    Whether a franchise is run by a second- or third-generation dealer or is older than even Chrysler itself didn't seem to matter when Chrysler decided to cut dealership ranks during their 2009 bankruptcy process. After almost 95 years selling Dodges, Reed Brothers was one of the 15 dealerships in Maryland and 789 dealerships nationwide notified by Chrysler that their franchise agreement would not be renewed.

    Well, times have changed, and Reed Brothers has changed right along with them. During the recent months and when many car dealers have had to close their doors, Reed Brothers have made behind-the-scenes tweaks to withstand the economic downturn and the loss of their franchise. Their 96-year run is a testament to both their business savvy and integrity. It's basic values that allow a company to stay in business that long, values that are handed down from generation to generation.

    A business landmark in the Rockville area since 1915, Reed Brothers has undergone a change in its structure - and its name - but still caters to the local community as it has for decades. Reed Brothers has changed its name from Reed Brothers Dodge to Reed Brothers Automotive, and continues on as a used car dealer and repair shop.

    Reed Brothers will celebrate the actual 96th anniversary of its business in October 2010. That makes Reed Brothers one of the oldest automotive dealerships under the same family ownership in Maryland and one of the oldest in the entire nation.

    Reed Brothers Automotive serves Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the greater Washington DC metro area including Rockville, Germantown, Gaithersburg, Poolesville, Laurel, Laytonsville, Olney, Damascus, Glen Echo, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Bethesda, Cumberland, Barnesville, Brookeville, Takoma Park, Kensington, and Baltimore.

    Visit Reed Brothers Automotive online at

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