Lowcountry Ties: Cumbie family involved in ownership, operations at ageless Orangeburg Chrysler store

Orangeburg Automotive, located off Interstate 26 at exit 145 in Orangeburg, was one of the first Chrysler dealers in South Carolina when it was established in the 1940s (Provided).


The Post and Courier

Opened in the early 1940s, Orangeburg Automotive is one of the longest-running Chrysler dealers in the country.

J. Deryel Cumbie took that into consideration when he and a partner bought the operation from the Brickle family in January 2012.

“We maintained the name,” said Cumbie, who grew up in Moncks Corner and still lives in Summerville.

“They had a really good reputation,” he said. The car dealer, who headed Cumbie Chevrolet in Moncks Corner for eight years, remembers thinking, “Hey, why not stay with that?”

Cumbie and Columbia businessman Scott Kirkpatrick own the Orangeburg-based Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealership as well as Orangeburg Nissan next door.

At the same time, the co-owner’s daughter Jennie Cumbie is business manager and son Jacob Cumbie is Internet sales manager.

Orangeburg Automotive and the Nissan dealership are at 2801 St. Matthews Road, a mile from Interstate 26 off exit 145.

“We are very hands-on, front and center,” Deryel Cumbie explained. The dealerships emphasize customer relationships. “One of the biggest things we hear from customers is the whole buying process (is) made so difficult. We streamlined the process, everything moves quickly. People value their time today. We get them in and get them out.”

After a year as an owner, Cumbie said he is trying to create awareness in the metro Charleston market that local people are involved. He also wants Lowcountry car shoppers to realize the dealerships aren’t really that far away, in particular from the Summerville and Moncks Corner areas.

Cumbie, who lives in the Pine Forest neighborhood in Summerville, said his trip to the dealerships is 54 miles.

“I know we can get a lot of folks coming that way with the proximity (to I-26),” he said. For instance, his son and daughter are in their 20s and have friends who live in the Lowcountry that are in the age group to be car shopping.

Cumbie said the Columbia area is another untapped market. His partner Kirkpatrick, who is from Chapin — a suburb of the state capital — is a veteran of the car business with more than 25 years of automotive experience.

“We are very accessible to our customers,” Cumbie said. “One of us makes it a point to be here (at all times).”

The dealerships are good-sized employers in the Orangeburg area, too. Between the two stores, there are close to 50 “local folks,” Cumbie said.

The job total is expected to rise soon.

After refurbishing the 21,000-square-foot Orangeburg Automotive building last year, the partners are setting their sights on expanding Orangeburg Nissan. They purchased adjacent land for a new 16,000-square-foot Nissan building, more than three times the size of the existing outlet.

“We are anticipating hiring 12-15 people when we open the new store,” Cumbie said. The partners are fixing to break ground on the new Orangeburg Nissan and expect construction to be completed by the end of the year, he said.

Cumbie became familiar with the car business at a young age; his father John Cumbie is a retired car dealer.

“I remember when I went with my Dad to Orangeburg to buy cars,” he said. The town had an Oldsmobile dealership, and the feeling was you could get a good deal there, that the overhead was perceived to be lower, he said.

The younger Cumbie has been involved in the automotive trade off and on for three decades. He ran Cumbie’s Auto Mall in Kingstree from 1986 to 1993. After selling the car store, he got involved in the family real estate business. That lasted three years or so. In 1996, he got the opportunity to buy Burg Chevrolet in Moncks Corner, which became Cumbie Chevrolet. He sold the Chevrolet venture in 2004 and returned to real estate. But not long after, he purchased the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge dealership in Lugoff from Dick Smith Automotive Group. He stayed five years, selling his interest before he and Kirkpatrick bought Orangeburg Automotive and Orangeburg Nissan.

Counting his father and children, “We’ve got three generations in the car business,” Deryel Cumbie said.

To contact Orangeburg Automotive or Orangeburg Nissan, visit www.orangeburgautomotive.com or call 800-480-CARS (2277).

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.