History of Theodore Robins Ford
History of the Dealership
The Theodore Robins legacy all started back in 1921 when Theodore Robins Sr. opened his Bay Avenue service garage on the Balboa peninsula for a mere $15 per month. He made sure “to offer good service and treat his employees well,” Theodore “Bob” Robins Jr., the founder’s son, said about his father. “Maybe it was not as structured as things are today. But that was basically the principles he followed for all those many years and that are still practiced today.”
In early February 1923, two men walked into the repair shop with an offer to purchase it, saying a Ford dealership had opened up. On February 7, Robins Sr. hopped into a Model T and headed up to Los Angeles, where he promptly signed an exclusive deal with Ford. It was a golden opportunity that Robins Sr. knew he couldn’t pass up. Theodore Robins Ford sold their first Ford for $637.10. Several years later, Robins Jr. began working in his father’s dealership, ferrying parts to garages all over town. He even secured a driver’s license at 14 years old so he could get behind the wheel of the parts delivery truck. In his current office, which he took over from his father, he still keeps the original 1923 Ford Franchise Agreement framed on the wall. Next to it hangs Theodore Robins’ first car sale on February 14, 1923 – a week after he’d opened the Ford franchise.
Through the years, the dealership has expanded several times. In 1928, Robins Sr. moved the dealership to a building at 22nd Street and Central Avenue, which is now Balboa Boulevard. The dealership was across the street from a Bank of America, which has since been replaced by the Crab Cooker restaurant. In 1955, Robins moved the dealership again, this time to Pacific Coast Highway. In 1966, Robins was ready to expand again; he pulled up stakes and headed to his current location, at Harbor Boulevard and Bay Street. “He’s an institution here in town,” said Ed Fawcett, president of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce. “They’ve been an anchor over there forever.”
Robins Jr. is still selling cars and trucks at his Costa Mesa dealership. They are one of the oldest family owned and operated Ford dealerships in America. “We’ve been selling them almost as long as they’ve been building them,” Robins said from his office of the dealership now essentially run by sons Jim and Dave. Theodore Robins Ford has been family owned and operated for four generations with two of Robins’ grand-children now employed at the dealership.
The Company has been honored by Ford with its distinguished achievement awards in recognition of progressive management, sound merchandising practices and high quality standards of service. In addition, the company has received numerous President’s Awards for outstanding sales and service in 2011, 2012, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
The Robins family has continued in the tradition of community service established by Theodore Robins Sr. Collectively, the Robins family has served on the Board of Directors of Hoag Hospitals’ 552 Club Support Group, been active with the Newport Harbor and Costa Mesa Chambers of Commerce, the YMCA Board, Past President of the Exchange Club of Newport Harbor, Past President of the Ford Dealer Advertising Association of Southern California, Past President of the Motor Car Dealers Association, Past President of the Harbor Blvd of Cars and served on the board of directors for the Orange County Auto Dealers Association. In the late 1970’s, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District named the clock tower at Newport Harbor High School “Robins Hall”. It is still named after the family to this day.
The key to the success for Theodore Robins Ford in this decade and beyond is continuing with the founding principles and company’s philosophy as set forth by Robins Sr. It can best be said in the Mission Statement:
All Dealership personnel will treat every customer as a potential lifetime purchaser, communicating a professional image that embraces honesty and concern for customer wants and needs.