Brothers bought Alice dealership in 1987

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

After more than 30 years in the automotive sales business, James and Jack Bradford announced Thursday they have sold their Alice dealership and are retiring.

The announcement followed six months of negotiations with an out-of-state buyer, and the sale of the business is expected to be finalized Oct. 1.

"We weren't actively looking for a buyer, we were approached," James said. "We didn't do this lightly. We gave it a lot of thought and analysis, and we very carefully negotiated the sale for the benefit of the employees, the community and ourselves."

The Alice dealership has been purchased by Vanessa Vence, who has been managing two dealerships in New York City, the Bradfords said Thursday.

The Bradfords entered the automotive business in 1968, and moved to Alice to work for Bill Gardner Chevrolet in 1974.

Both moved away to run dealerships in Aransas Pass and Dallas, but returned to Alice in 1987 and purchased the dealership at which they had once worked.

In 1991 they purchased an additional dealership in Alice, and expanded their operation. Over the years, it has grown into one of the most successful dealerships in South Texas.

Under the terms of the sale agreement, all employees will remain under the new management, a point that was very important to the two brothers.

"We don't foresee much other than the name and the owner of this dealership changing," Jack said. "The culture, the employees, the commitment to the community - all of those things will remain the same."

Once the sale is finalized, the Bradfords will discontinue all connection with the business, and the dealership will change names. The new name is expected to be Vence Lonestar Motors.

Although both brothers plan to spend some time traveling and visiting family, they said they will continue to be active in the community in the many non-profit organizations in which they serve. Both brothers thanked the community for the success it has brought to them over the years Thursday.

"The community is responsible for our success. We wouldn't be where we are today if it hadn't been for their support," James said. "We've tried to be part of the community and the area, and in return we've received their support. We've tried to put back as much as we've taken out.

"And we feel like this is the next logical step in that process."