Dealerships from coast to coast give generously to support the social fabric of Canada. We examine just a few of the many examples of dealers who give back.

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It’s the season for giving and a time to reflect. As life gets busier it’s easy to lose sight of those who are not as prosperous. More often than not, dealerships across Canada are usually the first to step up and help out.

Through integrated marketing initiatives, annual fundraisers, student athletics programs, and partnerships with local as well as national organizations these humble heroes give enthusiastically. Many do not receive recognition for taking time, often out of their own personal lives, to contribute.

As John Sutherland, Executive Vice President of the Nova Scotia Automobile Dealers Association affirmed, “Most dealers are active in some way in their community and most do it fairly quietly.”

Whether the contribution is larger than life or helps one person get through the day, dealers nationwide view their communities as family, making considerable efforts to maintain those relationships and keep those in need top of mind year-round.

NOVA SCOTIA 

On the east coast, Al MacPhee, President of MacPhee Ford in Dartmouth realized the importance of contributing to his community early on. “I started out with nothing in 1961,” he says. “This community has been awfully kind to me and I feel I have a responsibility to not only give back to them but to encourage other business people who have had good luck to do the same.”

He has seen an increase in various needs of his community over the years and commits $50,000 of the dealership’s annual budget to supporting everything from local sports teams to the Salvation Army and Dartmouth General Hospital. At the latter’s annual lobster supper, the dealership has given away a lease for a year for 28 years. “There’s not a week that goes by that we don’t contribute,” he adds.

In 2014, Allen and his wife Mary donated a quarter of a million dollars to the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning where they are still actively involved. The Centre encourages youth who struggle in a traditional learning environment to develop their passions in visual arts, music, photography, videography and technology.

“Kids who may have trouble applying themselves have a place to go to learn things like how to play ukulele, African drumming, and art,” MacPhee explains. “The schools work closely with us and we feel like these youths go home like different children.”

Having such a close-knit relationship within the community, MacPhee notes that most of all he wants to be a good example for his own children and grandchildren. “Not everyone appreciates money but when you are fortunate enough to have it, you really want to give back.”

“We owe it to our customers and community to give back. It’s important to us that the charities we donate to are local and reflect what our customers are passionate about”

Justin Griffin, General Manager of Scarborough Toyota

ONTARIO

In Scarborough, Justin Griffin, the General Manager of Scarborough Toyota feels that finding new ways to pay it forward is key.

“We owe it to our customers and community to give back. It’s important to us that the charities we donate to are local and reflect what our customers are passionate about,” he notes.

Scarborough Toyota frequently donates to organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto, Scarborough Women’s Centre, Wayne Simmons Road Hockey Warriors and Kennedy House Youth Services. They employ initiatives such as their 150 Campaign which gave new customers a $150 voucher to donate to a charity of their choice. “A lot of people want to donate but can’t, so this gives them the opportunity to choose a charity to get behind and support something they really care about,” he adds.

But the dealership wanted to do even more in 2017. In August, they launched a Community Outreach Program which partners with seven local charities, including those mentioned, who not only benefit from a combined donation of $100,000 but the volunteering of employees as well.

Through the Scarborough Toyota Appreciation Event, which included Homes First Society and Bluffs Food Bank, staff spent time putting together meals and care packages to personally hand out to those in need on the streets of Toronto. As food and supplies are always critical, Griffin feels a responsibility to show, rather than simply say, that someone cares.

That also includes health services. Recognizing in particular the needs of immigrant families especially in an area like Scarborough, the dealership donates to the Canadian Centre for Refugee & Immigrant Health Care, which provides free clinics to New Canadians ineligible for regularly insured services. “Scarborough is such a diverse community and reflects a lot of new Canadians,” he says, “We support immigrant services like these because this area reflects their backgrounds. This is their community and it’s important to help them out.” Griffin and his team certainly give meaning to their motto, “Because we care”.

ALBERTA

With an estimated $8.4 million in donations over the years, the Motor Dealers Association of Canada members regularly participate in activities and promotional events in support of local non-profit organizations, committees and service clubs, as well as national organizations like the Canadian Blood Services.

One of the largest Single Donor contributors to the latter is Marshall Eliuk, Dealer Principal of Marshall Automotive in Peace River. Born and raised in Alberta, the GM dealer of 46 years has a very personal connection to the organization.

Back in 2000, he was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare blood disease which left untreated can be fatal. At the time, a stem cell transplant bank didn’t exist in Canada and the only cure available to Eliuk was a medication that had not yet been proven.

Fortunately, through blood transfusions and the dedication of the University of Alberta Hospital, he was able to recover. “The doctor called me the miracle patient,” he says. “If it wasn’t for U of A hospital, I wouldn’t be here.”

Since then, Eliuk has made it his personal mission to give back to the community and organizations that saved his life. In 2014, he made the largest single donation ever recorded to Canadian Blood Services to help build their national umbilical cord blood bank. He has also donated $3 million to the U of A Hospital, which has since dedicated the 5th floor the Marshall Eliuk Hematology Ward for the next 20 years.

His dealerships have been involved in everything from hockey clubs and fundraisers to various community events over the years, and he encourages his colleagues in the industry to do the same.

Being involved in social media is another way Hacquard sees the support going both ways and believes that widespread community participation has been a game changer

“Dealers should always give back,” he says. “Dealer money is made from people living in the community. They come into the dealership to buy cars so there’s no reason why any dealer should not give back to the community and especially to health services.”

For Eliuk, maintaining that connection to the local area and fostering those relationships has not only saved his life but many others in his community as well.  To support his campaign visit: give.blood.ca/goto/marshall

BRITISH COLUMBIA

In the Vancouver area, one of Mike Hacquard’s biggest challenges has been getting people to think differently about dealerships overall. The Vice President of Wolfe Auto Group says that he wanted to find the means to better resonate with Canadian buyers, so they began fundraising for a few charities and tied sales into fundraising events once every quarter. 

These days they regularly sponsor local and province-wide associations, rotary clubs, and sports teams with a focus on youth. They support the Breakfast Club of Canada and the Greater Vancouver and Surrey Food Banks, where in July 2017 they presented a cheque for $22,700 and 480 pounds of food, with additional $100 donations for every car sold.

But their passion for giving reaches further. Kherry Friesen, Marketing and Social Media Coordinator for Wolfe Auto Group, highlights the value of including their staff and taking the initiative to go out into the community.

In November, the Group is contributing to Citypak Foundation, a non-profit foundation for the homeless, and will personally be handing out around 1,000 survival packs throughout Vancouver, Surrey and Langley.

“Our employees want to be involved. There are so many different causes we want to bring awareness to,” she states, noting that employees and clients often give suggestions for events. “Clients say ‘I saw you did this, what about this?’ It’s a great way to build on our relationships with them.”

Although they have a yearly forecast of causes to contribute to, Friesen points out, “Much of what we do is not in the plan. We try to give back to our community based on what is relevant and not just to big groups.”

She adds that they routinely use social platforms like their Facebook and Instagram pages to make sure that their clients are aware of what events are happening and how they can be a part of it.

Being involved in social media is another way Hacquard sees the support going both ways and believes that widespread community participation has been a game changer. “We involve people and the charities in what we do and vice versa. We’ve really seen it evolve, my staff feel good about it. We’re great people and we have great clients. We’re more than just a dealership.”

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