George Ghizas: The Workin’ Man

George Ghizas is a jack of many trades, and he’s got a Ford to go with each of ‘em.  This 48-year old West Chester native was the owner of the Lakota Hills Sunoco station (on Tylersville and Cincinnati-Dayton Rd.) until its closing in 2002. His all-American, no nonsense attitude has led him to buy 13 Fords in the last twenty years.

On the day of our interview, George is taking a break from blacktopping his elderly father’s half-mile long driveway. His Carhartts, canvas suspenders and work boots are covered in tar, and two of his Fords are in the driveway, useful as ever. But it’s all done before noon, which means a relaxing rest of the Saturday with his wife at the Reds’ Game and the Taste of Cincinnati.

Around 1979, before his two grown kids were even a thought, George’s Ford loyalty was born with his first wrecker. Of his 13 Fords, at least six were wreckers. At the time, the choices were Ford, Chevrolet or Dodge. And, at the time, George says Ford had the better motors of the three, which mattered because he “worked them the hardest.”

After his original wrecker, he bought two more from Ford—one flat bed and a regular one. He says the station would keep them for three or four years, or until 100,000 miles rolled around. “What we used to do, when times were good, was sell them and get newer ones because it was a better image and less maintenance. It was easier to just get rid of them because we were workin’ ‘um hard,” he says. But in later years they would drive the wreckers up to 200,000 miles. When George sold the station (now a Marathon/Dunkin’ Donuts), his Ford loyalty continued on with him. And his trucks were sold, two of which are still truckin’, serving a different George well at Lakota Auto Body ten years later.

In 2002, he started working for Lexus in New Car Dealer Trades with his 1999 F350 DRW. “Want all the details?” he asks, then rattles them off like last night’s baseball stats. “4 wheel drive. 4 door. Diesel. 7.3 liter power stroke…that was back when Ford made good diesel engines,” he adds. Which brought him to a point of contention he does have with the company: “They ruined their diesel engines and I haven’t bought one since. In last 12 years they have gone from best diesels to the most troublesome,” he says. His solution? Buy gas engines. However he is hopeful about Ford’s upcoming changes. “They are making brand new all their own diesel engine, and it’s supposed to be a beast,” he says. But the $6,000 price difference between the gas and diesel is enough for some hesitation… “You gotta really want one,” he says.

He did that for a long time—seven years and 300,000 miles long to be exact. In the meantime, he was building his excavating/concrete business. Along with it came a big, red 2000 Ford dump truck. “It’s at my house, and it’s not wrecked anymore,” George says. In his years of trucks, he has yet to wreck one, with the exception of a small mishap on a hill in his father’s backyard involving a tree this year. The cause of the wreck? “Operator error,” he jokes. “The dump truck is awesome, man.”

While his business life was flourishing with his work trucks, George has always been a pick-up man on the home front as well. With two young kids—Jenna, now 22, and Nick, 20—the family purchased an Expedition, and an Explorer, but never an Excursion. “I wish they still made them,” George says.

He also had a red F250 in 1994, then came “the big white one” (an F350) with four doors, then an “even bigger one” with four doors and six wheels. The one he has now was purchased from his father (who has since downsized from his pick-up truck days), and George assuredly says that the next truck will be a new Ford F-250 from his local Ford dealer.

When his children were younger, he remembers having a Mazda van, but then they purchased an early model Explorer for the four-wheel drive capabilities. But, he says, “I actually hated that car because it didn’t stop very good. Didn’t ride well. But that was an earlier model—around 1990.” Yet he went on to buy an Expedition next, because of the four-wheel drive and the interior. Plus, he says, “I didn’t like Chevrolet after an experience with a suburban. So it’s all been total Ford since.” However, George has never had a Ford car—in fact, he hasn’t had any car since 1980 something.

Like other Ford Life interviews, George says that the company and the cars are “pretty dependable.” He hasn’t replaced transmissions or anything big other than brakes, but then again he didn’t have many of them long enough to need it.

Other than buying another pick up truck soon, George talks about his current status:  “I still have the dump truck, so I’m still hoping the economy comes back and we can go back into concrete some day.  But, I’m getting old and fat. I don’t think I have ten more years. At 60 it’s harder to do than at 50.”

But George’s work ethic, along with his Ford loyalty, doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.

Read more Ford Life Stories on our Lebanon Ford blog.