Paul Moak celebrating 75 years


Paul Moak Automotive is celebrating 75 years with the same legendary focus on customers and service, from the heyday of in-person sales on Auto Row along south State Street in Jackson to today’s web-driven model.

Paul G. Moak Jr. can attest to the fact that keeping a business afloat and thriving for so long is tricky business but done with precision and care. 

“If you’re not careful, you can find yourself on the wrong track,” Moak Jr. said of operating a business. “My turn on the track, so to speak, is toward the end. Somebody else is now driving the train. Hopefully whatever has been transferred — as well as the abilities that those people have — will allow us to continue to go forward.”

Incorporated in 1946, Paul Moak’s automotive history began with the Pontiac franchise located on Pascagoula Street (currently where Thalia Mara Hall is located), operating under the name Madison Auto Sales. 

In 1957, Paul G. Moak, Sr. became a part owner in the dealership and the name was changed to Lane-Moak Pontiac, Inc. Moak would eventually buy the dealership.

As the city of Jackson expanded its community and cultural center, the Paul Moak Automotive dealership relocated to Jackson’s Auto Row on south State Street.

South State Street became the home to many of the Paul Moak brands over the next 50 years, including Pontiac, Honda, Volvo, and Subaru. 

A second GM dealership, Paul Moak of Ridgeland, featuring Pontiac, Buick, and GMC Trucks was purchased in Canton in 1991.

Paul Moak Automotive has seen three generations of the Moak family members play a part in its operations in Jackson. Paul Moak Sr. gave the dealership its name. 

In 1971, Paul Moak Jr. joined the business, followed a decade later by brother Alan. 

Now, Moak Sr.’s granddaughter, Jeanne Moak-Scarbrough, and her husband, John Scarbrough, carry on the Paul Moak Automotive legacy.

The Paul Moak organization to this day is wholly family-owned and operated, with a member of the Moak family present daily.

“In a lot of businesses,” said John Scarbrough, general manager of Paul Moak Automotive, “the family passes it on, one to the other, but one distinction, I think, about us is that we really want our company to reflect the owners and our values and who we are.”

Speak to any Paul Moak Automotive team member, and they will emphasize the dealership’s dedication to integrity, attention to detail, or care for customers and employees alike — as highlighted by Corporate Communications Director Rebecca McCarty. 

“We use the phrase, ‘The Friendly Folks at Paul Moak,’” McCarty said. “I like to think that’s also a secret of the success of this company: the employees, the care that the Moak family puts in.”

The dealership was incorporated in 1946 as Madison Auto Sales Inc. by Collin Lane. Lane named Paul G. Moak Sr. his general manager in 1951. Soon, Moak, Sr. became a partner, and the dealership was dubbed Lane-Moak Pontiac.

Lane retired two decades later, leaving the dealership in Moak Sr.’s hands. By 1971, Paul Moak Jr. had joined the business, making the dealership a full-fledged family operation. it was in 1972 that the dealership took on the Paul Moak name.

At that time, it was Paul Moak Pontiac. 

“If you’re a long-time Jacksonian, you know about Paul Moak Pontiac,” Scarbrough said.

That very decade, though, the dealership was contacted by both Honda and Volvo and began offering their vehicles, becoming the first dealership in the state to offer either brand. 

In 2001, the dealership added Subaru to their inventory. Paul Moak Automotive is still Mississippi’s exclusive dealer of both Volvo and Subaru vehicles.

“The car business is a complicated business,” Scarbrough said, “and the economy is never really forgiving — sometimes it is, but most times it’s not — so making decisions so you know you can withstand the ups and downs of the economy is what you’re trying to do, as a business owner. I guess we’ve done pretty good.”

Paul Moak Automotive has certainly withstood trials and triumphs in its 75 years of service. 

According to members of the Paul Moak team, the secret to the company’s success lies in the intentionality and focus behind every element of the business — hiring employees, designing showrooms, making sales and every step in between. “Small interactions matter,” McCarty said.

Moak Jr. said, “While it may have my dad’s name on the building, or people associate my name with the business or John and Jeanne with the business, the reality is it’s the people. It’s the people who are here that really make the difference in how we interact with the customers.”

For the remainder of 2021, sales events like “Too Hot to Haggle” and a new website overhaul are under way.

“Clear, to-the-penny pricing; simple to deal with; respect for your time; confidence in your decision,” Scarbrough said of the company website’s new interface. “All that is wrapped into our new software that we’re rolling out in the next few months, to allow the shopping experience to be easier for customers, so we’re excited about that.”

Navigating a large influx of online demand is a challenge Paul Moak Automotive has scarcely faced in its 75 years of service. 

No matter the shape its business takes, though, the Paul Moak Automotive team hopes to continue serving customers with the same care and deliberation the dealership has valued since 1946. 

“Hopefully,” McCarty said, “over the past 75 years, a lot of families and generations within families are loyal to Paul Moak, because they know it’s just an honest place to do business.”

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