Retired businessman Cletus Beatrix “C.B.” Crook Jr., who helped turn his father’s automobile dealership into a major platform for used-truck sales, died May 28 at his home in Albermarle, North Carolina. He was 80.
The younger Crook joined Crook Motor Co. in 1946, the year after his father, C.B. Sr., founded it in Albermarle. The son started in business by washing and cleaning used cars and trucks on the lot.
C.B. Jr. bought out the interest of his mother, Mamie Costner Crook, as well as his father, and in 1972 turned the focus of the business to trucks from cars. The company sells new Western Star trucks and used heavy-duty trucks of all brands, as well as trailers and medium-duty trucks.
Crook described his business as “the Supermarket of Used Trucks.”
In 2002, he won the Used Truck Association’s Marvin F. Gordon Lifetime Achievement Award. At that time, he had been retired for three years, having sold Crook Motor Co. to four of his managers, three of whom still own and operate Crook: David Horton, Rudy Cranford and Richard Almond. Horton said Crook was “an icon of the industry.”
When he won the Gordon award, UTA said of Crook that his concern for customers generated substantial repeat business “that at times was 75% of his customer base.”
“Crook expanded his truck operation tenfold from the early days, and his facilities covered” more than 10 acres in Albemarle, and he had more than 1,200 trucks in inventory at times and “drove customers around the lot in a golf cart,” according to the association.
Crook was born in Forsyth County, North Carolina, on April 30, 1936. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Betty Rose Jarrett Crook of Albemarle, and their two children.
Crook graduated from High Point University. His civic activities included Stanly County, North Carolina, Citizen of the Year; chairman of the Stanly County Chamber of Commerce; member of the Stanly County Board of Commissioners, the Board of Trustees for Stanly Community College, the Stanly Regional Medical Center and the Stanly County Family YMCA; chairman of the Stanly Society and trustee of Wingate University.