Friendship History

Company History
 
THE FRIENDSHIP FAMILY OF DEALERSHIPS began operations on December 6, 1993, when FRIENDSHIP FORD OF BRISTOL officially opened its doors in Bristol, Tennessee.  The previous Ford dealership in Bristol, Campbell Ford, closed in early 1991 after being in business for approximately 20 years.  After the closing, Ford Motor Company controlled the franchise and was extremely cautious in its search for a replacement dealer for the Bristol market. Mitch Walters spent approximately eighteen months pursuing the opportunity before being awarded the franchise.

The Friendship Family grew in late 1999 when Mitch purchased HIGH COUNTRY HONDA in Boone, North Carolina, along with long-time friend Steve Stefanovich. Mitch acquired Steve's share in late 2007 and continues to operate High Country Honda of Boone today.

Mitch started pursuing the acquisition of Carl Gregory's Hyundai franchise in Johnson City, Tennessee, in May 2003.  This transaction was completed in August 2003, and FRIENDSHIP HYUNDAI OF BRISTOL was formed as the exclusive Hyundai dealer for the Tri-Cities. Mitch was awarded an additional Hyundai franchise in the Tri-Cities in November 2005, and FRIENDSHIP HYUNDAI OF JOHNSON CITY opened for business on January 2, 2006, giving Friendship representation in both Bristol and Johnson City.

Mitch was able to acquire the Bristol-area Volvo franchise from Tim Marburger in June 2007, and FRIENDSHIP VOLVO OF BRISTOL joined FRIENDSHIP FORD and FRIENDSHIP HYUNDAI on the Volunteer Parkway.  In November 2008, Mitch,  along with partners Tom Hall (Vice President / General Manager), David Snyder (Vice President / Controller) and Bob Millsap (Vice President / Parts and Service Director), purchased Marburger's Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership on West State Street, and FRIENDSHIP CHRYSLER-JEEP-DODGE OF BRISTOL became part of THE FRIENDSHIP FAMILY OF DEALERSHIPS.

Mitch has been active in the automobile business virtually all of his life.  His father, Robert Walters, and grandfather Joseph Walters were the Chevrolet dealers in Hebron, Ohio, a small town in South Central Ohio.  After working several years at Walters Chevrolet in just about every department and graduating from college in May 1976, Mitch moved to Bristol, Tennessee, to further his experience in the automotive industry.  Mitch started in sales at the local Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership and worked his way up to Vice President / General Manager and partner in the Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Suzuki dealerships.  In 2007, Mitch sold his interest in those dealerships to focus entirely on building the Friendship brand.  Both of Mitch's sons are also shareholders in The Friendship Family of Dealerships, as is long-time friend and CPA David Snyder.

Mitch and his wife, Danea, have two sons, Brandon and Dustin, both graduates of Tennessee High School in Bristol, and six grandchildren.  Brandon went on to attain his bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee and his graduate degree from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.  He and his wife, Kim, have three sons, Sam, Mack and Hank, and live in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Brandon works in the insurance industry.  Dustin is a graduate of East Tennessee State University and is married to the former Kelly Cole of Elizabethton.  Dustin and Kelly have two daughters, Kate and Emma, and one son, Parke.  Dustin is currently the Vice President / General Manager / Operating Partner of FRIENDSHIP HYUNDAI OF JOHNSON CITY.

Both Mitch and Danea have been very active in community and civic affairs in Bristol over the years, and continue to support various charitable organizations.

 

 

GOALS - VISIONS - DREAMS

Mitch Walters hopes to continue to grow the business with his wonderful team of employees, who provide award-winning service to all Friendship customers.  The expansion and renovation of our facilities is an ongoing process important to the continued success of Friendship.  Being a leader in the marketplace in every aspect of business is important, and it is Mitch's strong desire that each member of THE FRIENDSHIP FAMILY OF DEALERSHIPS shares this goal.

 

 
 
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