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FORD DEALER WINS MINORITY BUSINESS HONOR

 CONNERSVILLE, Ind., Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Princeston Grace, who rebuilt his Advantage Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealership after most of it was destroyed by fire in 1992, today was named Indiana Minority Small Business Person of the Year.
 The award, sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration, was presented to Grace by Howard Vondruska, acting regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration -- Region 5, in ceremonies at city hall.
 In addition, Marion Newhouse, Connersville mayor, and Bob Powell, board chairman of the Connersville Area Chamber of Commerce, gave Grace a plaque of recognition for his contributions to the city and county.
 Others taking part in the ceremonies included Bill Shillingford, manager of Ford's (NYSE: F) Connersville Plant; Dave Smith, manager of Ford's Minority Dealer Operations and Training Program; and Doug Peters, regional director of Indiana's Small Business Development Center.
 The Connersville Chamber of Commerce had nominated Grace for the minority business honor.
 He purchased the dealership in 1990, and turned a sagging business into a successful venture. For the past three years, Advantage Ford- Lincoln-Mercury has been the truck sales leader among Ford's minority dealerships.
 "Princeston has been a very good dealer for Ford Motor Company," said Smith. "But, above all, he is a good human being who cares about his customers, his employees and his community."
 Smith said that the dedication of the dealership's employees to rebuild after the fire was a tribute to Grace's leadership abilities and to the respect he commands.
 "The employees rallied around Princeston, even to the extent of taking cars home and working on them," explained Smith. "They were determined that Advantage Ford-Lincoln-Mercury was going to stay in business and learn from this devastating experience."
 Grace watched for two hours as his dealership burned. "I was committed not to let this tragedy destroy my confidence or the confidence of my employees," he said. "I told them the fire would not ruin the progress we had made."
 The afternoon of the fire, the dealership sold a new truck -- and that was just the beginning. The sales department operated from the burned showroom, and new and used car sales were processed on the used car lot.
 Other departments set up temporary quarters, and within seven months, the building was reconstructed.
 "That experience made us a bigger, stronger and better operation," said Grace.
 The dealership was awarded Indiana's Minority Business Enterprise of the Year Award for Region 9 by the state's Small Business Development Center last May. The award was given for "demonstrating proven leadership ability and business management skills in established businesses and for substantial contribution to the region's economic climate."
 Grace, who has always been active in civic affairs, currently serves on the boards of Fayette Memorial Hospital and Fayette County Community Corrections and the National Urban Affairs Council.
 He also will be honored, along with the state's other various minority small business award winners, at ceremonies Oct. 8 in Indianapolis.
 -0- 9/29/93
 /CONTACT: Frank Sopata of Ford, 313-322-1300/
 (F)


CO: Ford Motor Company ST: Indiana IN: AUT SU:

JG -- DE007 -- 6839 09/29/93 13:00 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 29, 1993
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