By Leah Chiappino
With a vintage Ford planted in the showroom, the Ramp Ford Dealership in Port Jefferson Station evokes a feeling of nostalgia right as you walk in. Founded in 1944 by Alfred Rampone, the dealership is celebrating 75 years in business. As the oldest family-owned Ford dealership in Suffolk County, it has seen four generations of Rampone family ownership. Currently, Steven and Wayne Rampone Jr., are partners along with their father, Wayne Rampone Sr.
“I guess you could say [the business] is in my blood,” Wayne Rampone Jr. said.
The story goes that Alfred worked as a sales representative for Chevrolet, who denied his request to open his own dealership. However, when he reached out to Ford they came through on his request. They offered him a spot in Quogue or Port Jefferson. He chose the latter to make it easier to commute from his New Hyde Park home.
Originally, the dealership was located in lower Port Jefferson village at what is now the Chase Bank building. It operated with a handful of vehicles with a single salesperson and mechanic. The Rampones expanded to their current location on Route 347 in the mid-1960s. Today, they employ 45 people, who call themselves the “Ramp family,” and sell both vehicles and parts, as well as service vehicles.
Rampone Jr. says their business model has remained the same all this time.
“We are a customer-focused and customer-centered dealership,” he said. “We take pride in me being able to say we are a family-owned business and we literally treat our customers like family. When they walk in the door, we know them by name. We take care of each other.” He added their bond with the community has been instrumental to their success.
As part of their business model, owners said the dealership attempts to give back to the community in place of traditional advertising. They sponsor Little League teams, contribute to church organizations, and are deeply involved with Hope House Ministries.
“We spend a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of energy in the community,” Rampone Jr. said. “We believe if we give back to the community, they will give back to us.”