A. R. ARNOT
A fitting introduction to the life story of A. R. Arnot is the following article which was printed in “The Rambler” column of a Marysville paper under the date of March 11, 1931.
“Al R. Arnot has become so well known that he seems to have been a Marysvillian for years. That has happened since October, 1929, when he first located here as a Ford dealer. Everybody calls him Al now. Believe it or not, he is a native born Scotchman. Dad brought his big family from Edinburgh when Al was little more than a baby, and they settled at Spokane, Washington, Arnot senior being a builder. Ma hankered for her native land and they went back in a little while but all agreed that this was a mistake, so they crossed the pond once more and made it permanent, finally locating in Oakland. In the meantime Dad built a big stone ‘castle’ on the shore at Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is still owned by the family.
“Al has crossed the Atlantic five times—those three times when he was a youngster, and two times when he went to war and returned from war. He had been traveling so much of his life that, when he decided on locating here, he anchored himself hard and fast. He had Bill Gern pile up a huge monument of concrete in the form of a building in E Street that is rated as one of the finest automobile sales, service and repair plants in the state, and tied himself to it with a long-term lease so he could not roam. Auto dealers and experts came from everywhere to get pointers from this building so they can copy of some of its features. Al’s brother, Jim, designed the building.
“When Al started out for himself he was a trader in automobile accessories, selling to dealers. First, in 1915, he had a little place on Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, opening a branch in Los Angeles the next year. He was going strong when war was declared. He volunteered and left his business in the hands of others. When he came back in 1919 he was cleaned out. So he rustled a job selling accessories to dealers in Los Angeles and was soon appointed Pacific coast manager for a shock absorber, having charge of branches in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. The coast branches were later organized into a separate firm and he became president. He cut loose in 1927 and went east as sales manager for a manufacturing company in Indianapolis, but returned west in 1928 and organized the A. R. Arnot Company, representing manufacturers of various lines of auto accessories and supplies. This went strong, but when the next year the Marysville Ford dealership was offered he accepted, turned his business over to others and came here. He had formed a high opinion of Marysville through visits, so came to stay, cutting lose from other interests. In the time he has been here, about a year and a half, he has sold five hundred and twenty-five new Fords. His employees number about thirty. Al is identified with the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club and several fraternities, and he takes an active part in all matters of community interest and importance. He does his part.
A. R. Arnot was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, January 15, 1889, a son of the late John Y. and Helen (Spalding) Arnot. His father, a well known contractor and builder of Edinburgh and later of the Bay region, passed away November 16, 1927, when seventy-two years of age. The mother, who still survives, lives in Oakland, where the family home was established about thirty years ago. Nine of the twelve children of the family are yet living. Ralph Arnot is manager for the Goodyear Tire Company in Fresno, while the youngest member of the family, Harold Arnot, is the manager for the Fageal Motor Sales Company in Seattle and British Columbia.
A. R. Arnot, who is seventh in order of birth in his parents’ family, was graduated from the public schools of Oakland and later pursued a commercial course in the Dixon (now Heald’s) Business College in that city. His first regular employment was as a clerk with the Santa Fe Railroad, in its freight office in San Francisco, but he later became the western traveling representative for the Carey Safe Company of Buffalo, New York. When twenty-four years of age, he went into business for himself as a dealer in shock absorbers and other automotive supplies, conducting a small shop on Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, until he went to France with the naval aviation service in 1917. His little shop constituted the beginning of the Hassler-Pacific Company, of which he became president, with headquarters in San Francisco and branches in Seattle, Los Angeles and other coast cities, its sales transactions in the seven western states, the Hawaiian Islands and Alaska amounting to millions of dollars. A. R. Arnot disposed of his Hassler-Pacific interests in 1927, going to Indianapolis as sales manager for a manufacturing concern, but in 1929 returned to the Pacific coast and organized the A. R. Arnot Company, manufacturers’ representatives for automobile parts and accessories. This business, located 1054 West Sixth Street, Los Angeles, has since been turned over to one of his associates.
While still a mere boy A. R. Arnot had become greatly interested in automobiles and the mechanics pertaining thereto, particularly the putting of extra equipment on cars, and from that time to the present he has kept in close touch with every phase of the business. In 1930, when it became known that there would be a change in the Ford agency at Marysville, he was importuned by the Ford Motor Company to become the Ford dealer for the Yuba-Sutter district. As president of the Hassler-Pacific Company, as well as through his Los Angeles business over a period of many years, he had become well known to the automobile interests of the coast, being widely acquainted with dealers, and his general popularity and his personal friendship with the district manager of the Ford Motor Company doubtless led to his selection to his present agency. On July 5, 1930, the Arnot agency moved into the new Ford building at 420 E Street, Marysville, which is noted far and wide as the most beautiful and best arranged plant in the west and probably is the equal of anything of the kind in the United States. This has been emphasized by the fact that dealers from other cities have come here to admire it and secure data concerning it. It is of steel and concrete fireproof construction and is strictly up-to-date in all its appointments. The building was designed and the plans drawn by Arnot’s brother, James S. Arnot, architect of San Francisco, while of the owner of the structure in William V. Gern, who spared no expense in making it the last word in Ford garage construction. It contains thirty-two thousand square feet of floor space. The front of the building is one of the most attractive in the city and its location in the heart of the retail business district gives it great prominence. The entrance is on E Street and the building extends clear through to the alley. The ground floor is devoted to the sales, servicing, repairing and parts departments, and a two-pump gasoline station is included. A ramp leads up to the second floor, which is devoted to the storage of cars, painting and body work, etc. Eighty cars can be stored there and still leave room for any one of them to get in or out.
Arnot adheres strictly to Ford policies, making satisfied customers of all his patrons. In the month of June, 1930, when there was a great slump in the general sales of automobiles, his sales kept right up to the average. One leading feature of his establishment is the well equipped machine shop, containing the best machinery and manned by a corps of experienced mechanics, who give prompt and efficient service to the public, at regular Ford prices. The stock of Ford parts and accessories is large and complete, and a supply of all Ford models is kept on hand. In this community the new Ford truck is particularly adaptable, filling the needs of growers and shippers. The Arnot Motor Company also handles the Lincoln car and is prepared to furnish Lincoln parts and do repair work the same as on the Ford.
A. R. Arnot is a veteran of the World war, for which he enlisted in the naval aviation service. He was in training at Pensacola, Florida, and in November, 1917, was sent overseas as a member of the first aeronautical detachment, being among the first from this country to see service in France. He was detailed as an airplane mechanic and later became an observer and instructor at the Naval Flying School at Montchic, France. After the signing of the armistice he returned home, by way of New York City, and was honorably discharged in February, 1919, at Pelham Bay Naval Station, New York, with a confirmed rating in the air service. Mr. Arnot is a member of the American Legion in Marysville, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks at that place, and the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club. He has long been a member of the Masonic order, in which he has received the degrees of the Scottish Rite, and belongs to Ahmees Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Oakland. He possesses a strong personality, is candid and straightforward in all of his relations with his fellowmen and is uniformly respected by all.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.