The Friendship Family of Dealerships started December 6, 1993 when Friendship Ford of Bristol officially opened its doors in Bristol, Tennessee. The previous dealership, Campbell Ford, was closed in early 1991 after being in business for approximately 20 years. After the closing, Ford Motor Company controlled the franchise and was extremely cautious on finding a replacement dealer for Campbell Ford. Mitch Walters spent approximately one and a half years pursuing the opportunity to become the Ford dealer in Bristol. Ford Motor Company finally awarded the franchise to Mitch and FRIENDSHIP FORD OF BRISTOL was born!
Along with a long time friend, Steve Stefanovich, Mitch purchased HIGH COUNTRY HONDA in Boone, North Carolina in late 1999. Mitch acquired 100% ownership from Steve in late 2007 and currently operates HIGH COUNTRY HONDA OF BOONE today.
In May of 2003, Mitch started pursuing the possibility of acquiring the Hyundai franchise from Carl Gregory in Johnson City. This transaction was completed in August 2003 and FRIENDSHIP HYUNDAI OF BRISTOL was formed as the exclusive Hyundai dealer for the Tri Cities.
In November of 2005, Mitch was awarded an additional Hyundai franchise in the Tri-Cities. FRIENDSHIP HYUNDAI OF JOHNSON CITY opened for business on January 2, 2006 in Johnson City, Tennessee, giving Friendship representation in both Bristol and Johnson City.
In June of 2007, Mitch was able to acquire the Volvo franchise from Tim Marburger, and FRIENDSHIP VOLVO OF BRISTOL joined FRIENDSHIP FORD and FRIENDSHIP HYUNDAI on the Volunteer Parkway. In November of 2008, Mitch along with partners Tom Hall (Vice President / General Manager), David Snyder (Vice President / Controller) and Bob Millsap (Vice President / Parts and Service Director) purchased the Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge on West State Street in Bristol, Tennessee from Tim Marburger and FRIENDSHIP CHRYSLER-JEEP-DODGE OF BRISTOL was now part of THE FRIENDSHIP FAMILY OF DEALERSHIPS.
In May of 2012, Friendship Auto Exchange was opened in Granite Falls, North Carolina selling used vehicles as part of High Country Honda.
In June of 2012, Quick Lane Tire and Service Center was opened in Bristol, Tennessee as part of Friendship Ford.
Mitch has been active in the automobile business virtually all of his life. His father Robert Walters and grandfather Joseph Walters were the Chevrolet dealers in Hebron, Ohio, a small town in South Central Ohio. After working several years at Walters Chevrolet in most every department and graduating from college, in May of 1976, Mitch moved to Bristol, Tennessee to further his experience in the automotive industry. Mitch started in sales at the local Chevrolet - Cadillac dealership and worked his way up to Vice President / General Manager and partner in the Honda · Mazda · Nissan · and Suzuki dealerships. In 2007, Mitch sold his interest and focused entirely on building the Friendship brand. Both sons, Brandon Walters and Dustin Walters, are also shareholders in The Friendship Family of Dealerships, as well as long time friend and CPA, David Snyder.
Mitch and his wife Danea have two children, Brandon and Dustin, and six grandchildren. Brandon and Dustin are both graduates of Tennessee High School. Brandon is a graduate of University of Tennessee and has his graduate degree from Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, North Carolina. He and his wife Kim have three boys (Sam, Mack and Hank) and live in Charlotte where Brandon works in the insurance industry. Dustin is a graduate of East Tennessee State University and is married to the former Kelly Cole of Elizabethton. Dustin and Kelly have two daughters (Kate and Emma) and one son (Parke). Dustin is currently the Vice President / General Manager / Operating Partner of FRIENDSHIP HYUNDAI OF JOHNSON CITY.
Both Mitch and Danea have been very active in community and civic affairs in Bristol over the years, and continue to support various charitable organizations.
GOALS - VISIONS - DREAMS
Mitch Walters hopes to continue to grow the business through having a wonderful team of employees who will provide award winning service to all of our customers. The expansion and renovation of our facilities are very important and will be an ongoing process. Being a leader in the marketplace in every area of business is important, and it is Mitch's strong desire that each employee of THE FRIENDSHIP FAMILY OF DEALERSHIPS shares this goal.