In 2003, I was managing 3 automotive dealerships in the Los Angeles area when I was asked to take over running Gresham Ford as well. At first, I saw this as just a temporary assignment to get the organization running smoothly and profitably without causing too much disruption to my life. But there were plans bigger than mine in the works.
I soon fell in love with the people of Gresham and the Portland area. Everyone I met had a warmth and friendliness I hadn't experienced anywhere else. I eventually learned to love the rain, although I'm still not fond of the Gorge winds! It wasn't long before I gave up the dealerships in Los Angeles, sold my house and moved my family to Gresham to make this our home.
I felt the city had adopted me and I decided I wanted to return the blessing. When a customer mentioned in passing there were, at that time, more than 4,000 people in Gresham going hungry, my staff and I took an afternoon and went door-to-door collecting food for Sno-Cap, the regional food bank. Later I learned a lady working for us had recently overcome homelessness through the help of Cathe Wiese and My Father's House. I began to see how small organizations all over the city were truly making a difference in the lives of others. Helping them became my obsession. We met as a staff to discuss how we, as a company, could do more to help the community than just run an honest business. Our Parts Manager, Mike Amato, suggested starting a fund where everyone on staff could contribute a portion of their pay to help people as the needs arose. The employee fund has helped pay for things like medical bills for a family in the community whose child needed lifesaving surgery to replacing a transmission in a van for a family that had just gotten off welfare.
Several years ago, we decided to get our customers involved and started our "Community Support Program". We donate $100 with the purchase of any new or used vehicle, and 10% of all service work, parts and labor, in the customer's name to the charity of their choice. As a result, we have been able to help literally hundreds of different organization improve lives throughout the region and the nation.
I am honored and humbled to be a part of this wonderful city. Thank you for allowing me and my staff to serve you.