Creshull Harrison, Sr. knew a good thing back in 1928 when he opened Harrison Chevrolet in downtown Marianna. He opened the business in its first location at the corner of Green and Jackson Streets where Citizen’s State Bank originally opened its drive-thru services. Across that corner going south was Hinson Stables. Creshull Harrison, Jr. entered the ‘family’ business following his graduation from the University of Alabama.
Harrison went to school 11 years at Marianna High before transferring to Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Georgia where he graduated in 1944. Harrison went to the University of Alabama (and still today is a die-hard Roll Tide fan) for one year before entering the service for two years. He returned to the University of Alabama where he graduated in 1949.
Creshull Harrison, Jr. said his father moved the business to the corner of Lafayette Street directly across from the post office in the late 30’s. He worked with his father when he was in school and returned to Marianna following his graduation. Harrison said the business was a partnership in 1950 and was incorporated in 1958. Harrison said they moved to the second location at the corner of Lafayette Street and Caledonia in the late 1930s and in an interview vividly described the layout of both the original building and the one they relocated to at Lafayette and Caledonia, “When we first moved there, it was the old Dekle Building. And we got there in the in the late 30’s, during the depression. Back when we were back on the corner, the bottom floor was a service station and the show room was just a small area to the south of it. The used car lot was where the telephone company was, Century Link is there now. That building, we traded the old Dekle Building to the First Bank of Marianna which is now Wells Fargo.” The bank building brought back a memory for Harrison that he shared, “My great, great grandfather started that bank as the W. J. Daniels Banking Company, and it was the first bank in Jackson County in the late 1800s. But that building was the dealership showroom. That was kind of interim between the corner and the building out at west end.”
The business moved to its present location in 1964. Harrison sold to Quen and Ann Rahal in 1974 but stayed in business with Rahal for one year before moving on to his next venture. Although he hung up his car business, he moved on to real estate where his first venture was the development of Indian Springs. When asked what he preferred best, the car business or the real estate business, Harrison says, “Well I like the car business but I like the freedom of the real estate business. The car business you are kind of a slave to it.”
Creshull and Marianne Harrison have four children, Creshull Harrison who lives in Marianna and Margaret Anne Evans, Cile Harrison Fant, and Ellyn Harrison Watford.
Rahal Chevrolet – keeping the tradition going
Quen Rahal knew he had some big footsteps to fill when he purchased Harrison Chevrolet in 1996 after the Chevrolet dealership had been under the Harrison family for 68 years. He knew when he walked in the dealership he had to prove himself to the community and the long-time customers of the Creshull Harrison family and within a very short time, he had gained the trust of the community and the dealership thrived under his leadership.
Ricky Miller refers to a Joel Osteen devotional when speaking of Quen Rahal, “Mr. Harrison blessed his son with the dealership and then Mr. Rahal blessed me with the dealership and I am blessing my son with it. Mr. Rahal, when he walked into a room, he commanded respect. He didn’t have to ask for it, it was just there. He was one of those people you just knew it was there. He always told me and I believe this to be true, that when he was dead and gone he wanted people to remember him as a good business man. And I believe he was a good businessman. Mr. Rahal was hard but very fair. If he owed you a penny, he paid it and he expected the same in reverse. He, Walter Spence, and Bill Hopkins were old school and good, good businessmen.”
Quen Rahal passed away in October, 2008 at the age of 69. His wife Ann Rahal passed away in August, 2014.
Miller and Miller Chevrolet GMC Nissan
Ricky Miller is quick to give credit for his start in the car business to Quen Rahal and says outright, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That is what he and now his son, Dustin Miller have practiced since he took over the dealership in 2014 with Dustin becoming a partner in 2017.
Ricky Miller says very proudly that he and Dustin have worked hard to take the dealership a step further, to make it a dealership of family rather than a dealership of employees, “Mr. Rahal gave many people an opportunity, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without him. Just like any father that wants their son to do better than him, I want my son to do better than I am doing and Mr. Rahal wasn’t a father but he wanted Jorge (Garcia) and I to do better than him.”
Both Millers stress that they think of their employees as family saying, “When their family has good news, we share in that and when there is a tragedy we hurt with them. We want them to be the same with us, to share in our good news and be a part of it and to keep us in their prayers if there is a tragedy.” Ricky Miller said, “Mr. Rahal believed to always be firm but fair and friendly, I tried to follow that but I am more friendlier than I am firm.”
Ricky and Tami Miller have one son, Dustin Shane Miller who is a graduate of Marianna High School, Chipola College, and the University of Florida Levin School of Law. Dustin is engaged to Shawna Donofro.