DEARBORN - The Salute to Dealers awards recognize dealers who Go Further when it comes to giving back to the communities in which they live and work. Six dealers were selected from among more than 8,500 Ford Motor Company dealers worldwide. They are being recognized for exhibiting unparalleled giving, dedication and leadership to their communities.
“The bottom line is I just like helping people, and anytime I hear of someone who needs something, the first thing that comes to mind is, ‘How can I help them?’” Kindle said. “I think that was inherited from my father. He was always looking to help somebody; in fact, we used to call him ‘Red Cross Bob.’”
In the spirit of “Red Cross Bob,” Bill Kindle inherited his father’s strong connection to the beautiful seaside community. When he met NASCAR’s Bill Elliott at a business function, the two men found something in common – the tragic loss of their sons in a car accident. Elliott’s son, Navy Ensign John Elliott, was traveling home for his mother’s birthday when he was struck and killed by a drunken driver. That prompted the Elliotts to create the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, a foundation that seeks to end drunken-driving tragedies by promoting the use of safe and sober designated drivers.
Kindle Ford Lincoln supports the annual HERO walk fundraiser, which attracts 2,000 people to the Ocean City boardwalk every fall.
Bill Kindle also has helped save the lives of marine mammals and sea turtles along New Jersey’s waterways by flying rescue missions in his plane. A zoologist by training, Kindle backs a motorcycle ride each year to save turtles from being run over by cars during hatching season. He also supports the mission of Marine Mammal Stranding Center. Since the center’s founding in 1978, staff and volunteers have responded to more than 4,000 calls for distressed whales, dolphins, sea turtles and seals.
Bill Kindle’s love of flying also made him a perfect candidate for Angel Flight Northeast, an organization that provides free air transportation to families in need of critical medical care. Kindle has logged 20,000 miles and more than 50 flights to get patients to the treatment or surgeries they need. Everything from fuel to expenses is donated.
Reed began as a mechanic, and today is chief executive officer of World Class Automotive Group, one of the largest dealership groups in the country. He and his wife Sherry continue to lend a helping hand to the close-knit community of Humble, with a special focus on learning and educational needs.
When the middle school needed a new marquee, Reed made it happen. After an elementary school playground burned to the ground, Reed donated $35,000 to rebuild it. And in recognition of the hardworking teachers in the district, Randall Reed’s Planet Ford donated a Ford Escape to the winner of Humble Teacher of the Year.
Nowhere is Reed’s passion for education more evident than in his support for the school district’s special-needs students. He has donated computers and vehicles to the high school’s Best Buddies program, where teens with disabilities are matched with high school students.
Reed stepped up to raise money for Village Learning Center, offering essential services for young adults with disabilities and their families.
“Sherry and I have always had just a heartfelt pull to do what is best and what is required from those who have been given so much, and we have always believed in giving back to children. It is our God-given requirement and responsibility to give back,” Reed said.
Randy Nehring, Sioux Falls Ford Lincoln; Sioux Falls, S.D., United States
Randy Nehring, president of Sioux Falls Ford Lincoln, hates the limelight. He is a modest dealer who takes pride in his two daughters, Heidi and Gretchen, who work for the dealership, and his son-in-law Ed Bloom, the showroom’s general manager. For Nehring, it’s never about him, it’s always about his family, his employees and the surrounding community.
“Our dealership team is wonderful,” Nehring said. “They have a lot of passion for taking care of guests, but also taking care of our community. It is a lot easier to write a check than it is to get involved, and our people get involved. They take on a cause and they become chairman of the cause or become very active in the cause, and I couldn’t be more proud of the team I have been blessed to work with here at Sioux Falls Ford Lincoln.”
Nehring has built his business on a simple mission statement: “To be so effective that we are able to be helpful to others.” The employees of Sioux Falls Ford Lincoln live out that mission every day of the year. The dealership is the proud sponsor of Avera Race Against Breast Cancer, the largest breast cancer race in South Dakota.
Sanford Children’s Hospital and its cancer survivors are also thankful for the generosity of Nehring and his team. Sioux Falls Ford Lincoln has raised community awareness about pediatric cancer by supporting the Be Bold, Wear Gold campaign. On the day designated, the dealership delivered toy cars and stuffed animals to lift the spirits of children battling cancer.
Nehring and Sioux Falls Ford Lincoln are also proud supporters of Make-A-Wish, which makes dreams come true for children with life-threatening illnesses throughout South Dakota. They not only raise money for the organization, but also grant wishes each year to children in the community.
Granting wishes isn’t reserved just for children. Each year, Sioux Falls Ford Lincoln brings a group of disabled veterans to the fields of South Fork Hunting Lodge in South Dakota, the pheasant capital of the world.
Cam Clark, Cam Clark Ford Lincoln; Airdrie, Alberta, Canada
Cam Clark says he feels fortunate to have a dealership in southern Alberta, just west of the Canadian Rockies. Located in the growing town of Airdrie, Cam Clark Ford Lincoln has a modern new showroom, a bustling truck business and deep roots in the community.
Clark has partnered with Rocky View School Division to create an automotive technician training center right inside his dealership. Every year, approximately 100 students are enrolled in the program to get hands-on instruction from licensed Ford technicians, resulting in 10 full-time techs working at the dealership today.
In addition to this mechanics training program, Clark also has made a major donation to create a community learning center as part of the new high school. Clark’s passion for education extends beyond Airdrie. He has served as a respected board member at Olds College, an agricultural training school founded 100 years ago that has evolved into a nationally recognized leader in horticulture, animal sciences and environmental management.
Staying true to his heritage and values, Clark has been a volunteer, board member and valued fundraiser for Calgary Stampede, an event featuring rodeos, agricultural activities, midway rides, concerts and chuck-wagon races.
Smiling children are also the inspiration for Clark’s support of Kids Cancer Care Foundation, which puts on a camp for 600 children each summer.
Community outreach is so ingrained into the culture of the dealership that Clark built a designated community meeting room for nonprofits, school boards and charities – right above his showroom. Use of the facility is free, and Clark even supplies the coffee and donuts.
“What I love best about this business is coming to work today, the same as I did 25 years ago,” Clark said. “It’s rewarding to see staff – some of whom have been here 25 years – who are as passionate about the business as I am.”
Sujeet Singh Gehlot, Gehlot Ford; Ajmer District, India
Ford’s origins in India can be traced back to 1907, and today the company is rapidly expanding operations in this emerging market. Part of that expansion is Gehlot Ford, located in Ajmer District in central India. Sujeet Gehlot started in the auto business as a young person washing cars. Today, as managing director of Gehlot Ford, he has guided the dealership to a 40 percent market share in the district.
Gehlot Ford is a family affair. Gehlot’s son is in the sales department, his daughter is preparing to join the business, and his wife Pratibha has a number of different administrative roles, including guiding the dealership’s charitable activities.
“Since the inception of our automobile business in Ajmer District, we have been involved in some form of charity,” Gehlot said. “This includes helping poor children in school, building homes for the elderly, supporting rehabilitation homes for mentally challenged children and organizing blood donation drives. Wherever we find someone needy or poor, we try to reach out and help. My only intention is to show them a way to move forward in life as I did, and to be an inspiration for them.”
One inspiration for Pratibha Gehlot’s charitable work is her son, who suffers from a rare blood disorder called Thalassemia.
Gehlot Ford has created a Thalassemia foundation and started working for children affected by this disease. Since medicine is expensive, Gehlot collects funds, provides medicine and arranges blood reserves for patients.
Gehlot Ford contributed to the construction and provides ongoing support for a home in the region for the elderly, helping with improvements, repairs and funding.
In addition, in a small rural village in Ajmer District, Gehlot Ford helps impoverished children obtain a better education by contributing toward improvements for the school and for the education of the children. The dealership provides sweaters for winter, and distributes free uniforms, pencils and books. Because water availability was a problem for the school, the Gehlots arranged the installation of a new water tank.
Finally, Gehlot Ford is helping to enrich the lives of mentally challenged people through Shubhda, a special school that offers a variety of activities including vocational training.
Divonsir Bastos Cardoso, Autoeste Veículos; Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, Brazil
Divonsir Cardoso has worked for Ford in the Brazilian state of Paraná since 1970. Better known by his nickname “Mr. Zico,” this committed Ford dealer has built a modern new showroom in Foz do Iguaçu, one of southern Brazil’s most frequented tourist destinations. Mr. Zico was motivated to get into the automobile business to assist his family and his community.
Mr. Zico says it takes two hands to succeed in business and life. One hand is dedicated to making his dealership prosper and grow. The other hand is used to help address the social challenges of the surrounding community. Mr. Zico works with the community council in the city of Toledo to help imprisoned men and women transition back into society. He created a library and donated computers to encourage inmates to further their education.
Like many countries, the population of Brazil is growing older. As a result, there are not enough nursing facilities to take care of the elderly. Mr. Zico’s support of a home for the elderly near his dealership is vital to the care of this vulnerable community.
Hospitals in the region are also grateful for the support of Mr. Zico and his dealership team. Autoeste Veículos supports a number of causes and events to raise awareness about cancer. Mr. Zico has a special place in his heart for children battling this disease.
“I have the pleasure of being part of this team that is really making a difference in terms of cancer recovery, especially among children,” Mr. Zico said. “We organize joint campaigns, with the support of McDonald’s, the McHappy Day. We sell tickets, we help at the store. We organize public campaigns to make people aware of what cancer is really about.”