40 Years in Business!
Longhorn Auto Sales was founded by Ira (Smitty) Smith in the 1970’s and ran by him and his wife Lea M. Smith. In 1990 after the death of Ira and the retirement of Lea, the small car business was passed to their son Glen.
At that time, Glen was serving with the Brown County Sheriff’s office. With the help of family and employees, Glen managed to juggle both his law enforcement career and the car business. After his retirement from law enforcement in 2005, Glen focused on the car business and has grown it to what it is today. He has bought adjacent property, increased his inventory and added a second location.
In 2012, Glen’s son Jeremy joined him working at the business full time. Before that Jeremy had worked at the business part- time in the summers while coaching and teaching at Brownwood ISD. Jeremy brings another generation of enthusiasm and innovation to the family business.
Customer’s trust in Longhorn Auto Sales has meant many customers have purchased multiple cars for many generations of their own families.
Former sheriff enjoying the auto business
By Steve Nash
Seated in his office at Longhorn Auto Sales, 903 W. Commerce in Brownwood, Glen Smith thought for a moment when asked if he misses being sheriff.
No, Smith concluded, he doesn’t — although his 28 years in law enforcement, including eight as Brown County sheriff, were good to him.
Smith said he might miss it if he didn’t have a successful business to run — Longhorn Auto Sales — which started as a family business in the 1970s. Smith is now the sole owner, although he is pleased to have his son, Jeremy, a former Brownwood coach, working with him.
“I feel like I’m as fortunate as I can be,” Smith said.
It’s possible to stay too long in a career, Smith said, and he believes he walked away from law enforcement before that happened. “I thoroughly enjoyed my career,” Smith said. “It was good. Do I miss it? If I didn’t have a very full-time business to keep me occupied, it might be different.“
Smith said his father started the business, which belonged to his parents, in the 1970s. Smith helped out there, doing some trading and selling, “to make a little extra money.“
When his parents were no longer in the business, Smith and his father-in-law formed a partnership. When Smith retired as sheriff 13 years ago, he bought out his father-in-law to become sole owner.
“I do like it,” Smith said. “We’ve been very fortunate. For a small independent dealership, we’ve done very well. Our business is good. We’re blessed with repeat customers.“
Smith said he knows most of the other car dealers in town, and the dealers tend to have their own customer bases. “We’re all friends,” Smith said. “To some extent we compete against each other, and to some extent we don’t.“
Smith has been able to expand and improve the business with acquisitions of additional property. The business offers in-house financing for its stock of late model, lower-mileage vehicles, Smith said.
The prices of the vehicles Longhorn Auto sales is in the $10,000 to $20,000 range, although less expensive vehicles are available, Smith said.
Before vehicles are put on the front line for sale, they are checked out by a mechanic who signs off on a three-page checklist, Smith said. It takes up to a week to get a car ready to sell, and the business will repair anything that got overlooked before a sale.
Smith said he wants to stress “how much we appreciate our customers. I really mean that.“
Smith said when his son came to work for him, he told Jeremy he needed to understand “how important our customers are, and repeat business. He’s bought into that.“
Smith said he’s always been successful in dealing with the public. There have been challenges in running the business, Smith said, noting “anything you do that will be successful, there will be challenges.“
Smith said his law enforcement career taught him to “pull up your bootstraps and face (challenges) head-on.”