Video: A Ford family through and through

By Anne Thompson Chief environmental correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/18/2007 3:31:42 PM ET 2007-01-18T20:31:42

There are few things more American than the family farm or the pickup truck. And you'll find both in Berne, an Indiana heartland town of 3,500, where the Moser family has sold Fords for more than 90 years.

"It's been a life much like the family farm," says Phil Eicher. "We've faced a lot, a lot of challenges."

Today, the fourth-generation brothers Phil and Jim Eicher run the shop.

Mom was a Moser, and still works. In fact, nine Moser-Eicher relatives work here, keeping their business going as Ford tries to get back in the black and win back customers lost to Toyota and Honda.            

"Many times people buy an import without seeing what the domestics offer," says Jim.

But the brothers still believe in the brand.

"[Ford has] had some great times," says Phil, "[and] we've had some down times. Right now, they're struggling, and along with them we are partners with them."

At one time there were five new car dealerships on Main Street in Berne. Today, just Phil and Jim's remain. Yet they say the competition has never been tougher, forcing them to change the way they do business, relying on used-car sales and heavy trucks.

"Anybody that is successful, is going to have some other niche other than just retailing new vehicles," says Phil.

Talk to the third generation, Millard Moser and Johnny Eicher, and they say the entire business has changed.

"Ford had somebody here in our dealership practically every week," says Millard. "Now, except for Phil with some commercial truck people, we have no personal relationship with Ford at all anymore." 

But some things never change.

Anne Thompson: What was the biggest challenge you two faced?

Millard Moser: Making money?

Johnny Eicher: I look back, it went pretty good. 

Enough for a fifth generation?

"I think there will be a business here," says Phil Eicher. "How it will look, who knows?"

One family's hope, to continue an American tradition, in a changing world.

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