Ford Recognized by ASU

Thursday, October 17, 2013
Danny Ford, with his wife, Gail, behind him, during the halftime ceremony at ASU.

A lifetime of hard work and determination, business success and support for communities has earned Danny Ford of Rector recognition as an outstanding alumnus of Arkansas State University.

Ford, president and CEO of Glen Sain Motors, Inc., was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2013 by the ASU Alumni Association in ceremonies Saturday in Jonesboro. The award is given to devoted alumni who have extensive achievements, both in their communities and their professions.

Each year, since 1984, the Alumni Association's board of directors has selected recipients from nominations by the public. Final selections are based on community service, professional achievement and service to Arkansas State University. From Ford's humble beginnings to his greatest achievements in business, one can understand why he was chosen as one of the three 2013 recipients.

"Our family enjoys giving back, because we remember how we got started," Ford said. His humble beginnings go back to high school, when he picked cotton during what was then called split term. School was dismissed for a few weeks, so students who lived on farms could help the family harvest the crops.

Ford turned 18 during the Vietnam War and he and his friends were subject to the draft. It was then that he decided, if his lot was chosen, he would go fight. But if not, he would go to college and further his education. Although he wasn't chosen, some of his friends were, and some didn't return. "That's kinda why the troops have a very special place in my heart," Ford said, and that is why the family supports the troops, and veterans in any way they can.

Since the war was not in his future, continuing his education was, and Ford went on to be the first in his family to graduate from college. In 1972, during their senior year at Arkansas State University, Ford and Gail Sain, the daughter of Glen Sain, married. In that same year, Ford graduated with his bachelor's degree in business administration. After graduation, Ford said, "my father-in-law asked if I wanted to go to work for him at the GMC dealership in Rector." So, he and Gail moved to Rector and he said jokingly, "I washed cars for two years."

According to Ford, Sain had some health problems and, in 1983, he retired. "That's when he came in one day and said, 'Danny, you need to go to the bank and start working on a loan to buy the dealership.'" Ford said he and Gail were 33-years-old and scared to death. After closing the loan on Friday afternoon, he told Gail, "Best I can see, we have to make $127 a day in order to make the payment." He said the next morning he did everything in that small dealership from stocking parts to selling trucks, and Gail did the paperwork.

Glen Sain passed away in 1987 at the age of 61. "He was more than a father-in-law, he was a good friend," Ford said. Since that time, Ford watched not only their business expand from the original dealership in Rector, to dealerships in Kennett and Paragould, but they also watched their family grow from two sons, Kirk and Todd, to two daughters-in-laws, and five grandchildren.

When talking about his family, Ford will tell you they are a very close and they all live in Rector. "We are all very fortunate, but I can't take credit for it. What I can take credit for is choosing good people to work with." He also says, "You can never go wrong being nice to people. My family and employees have heard me say that many times."

Ford's generosity can be seen throughout communities all over Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. He and his family support youth sports programs, such as baseball, softball, and soccer. They also try to help all the schools in different areas, along with many civic organizations.

"Any time support is needed, we try to be there," Ford said. He and his family have provided a lot of financial support for school projects in Kennett, Rector, Paragould and the surrounding area.

Ford ended his comments at the celebration brunch with his favorite Bible verse in Luke, "To those who are given much, much is required." Through various types of donations and generous work to which Ford and his family contribute, one can only see this is more than just a verse, it is a way of life.

When asked how he felt about being chosen for the Distinguished Alumni Association Award, Ford said, "I'm not sure how they chose me, but I do appreciate it. It is an honor and very special to me."

Ford shares the Distinguished Alumni Award with four other Rector-related recipients over the years: Sherland Hamilton 2006, George Barker 2010, Bill Carter 2011, and Neil Crowson 2012.

Noah 'Ness' Sechrest, president of Petro Tank Lines and West Memphis Petro Inc, and a 1999 Distinguished Alumni recipient, introduced Ford to friends, family, and alumni. During his introduction, Sechrest listed more of Fords many accomplishments to those present.

Ford is a member of the ASU Foundation, Inc., Board and the Chancellor's Cabinet. Ford's assistance to the university and its projects, especially the Johnny Cash Music Festival and restoration of Cash's boyhood home at Dyess, has been extensive.

He is a past chairman of the Arkansas Automobile Dealers Association and has served on the association's executive board for the past 18 years. He has received GM's top award in customer satisfaction annually and has been recognized as a top GM dealer in sales and service for 15 years.

Ford is well-known in Rector and the surrounding region for the financial support he has given to civic projects, including Rector High School's athletic facilities, the Rector Veterans Memorial Park, the Paragould Main Street Art and Stroll, and the NEA Duck Classic.

He is also known statewide for his longtime service as a member of the Arkansas Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission as an appointee of three different governors. He also has served as chair and vice chair of the commission.

Other ASU Alumni receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award on Saturday were Darrel Cunningham of Fort Smith, and Roy Ockert Jr. of Jonesboro.

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