BEST PRACTICES

Staff plans celebrations for dealership's centennial

A child is fingerprinted during an Operation Kidsafe event. As part of Adamson Ford's centennial celebration, the dealership partnered with Operation Kidsafe to hold a one-day event for February.

To commemorate Adamson Ford's 100th year in business, employees were asked to put on their thinking caps.

Each department at the Birmingham, Ala., dealership was tasked with devising two community events to mark the anniversary.

"We talked to several different advertising companies and event planning places — and the fees were just so astronomical," Melissa Shaw, Adamson Ford controller, said.

Instead, department managers discussed ways the dealership could organize a yearlong string of community events on a budget, without outside help, Shaw said.

Rather than having one big party or event, the managers collectively decided to have each department sponsor events that involve its customers and give back to the community, Linnea Israel, dealer principal, told Automotive News.

Each of the six departments is planning two events for the year, Shaw said. For each month, $4,000 is allocated for planning, promotion and supplies.

The dealership, established by Reese Adamson in 1918, later moved into the historic, and remodeled, Grand Theater in the heart of Birmingham, where it remains. John Israel Jr. bought the store in 1956 but kept the name.

Operation Kidsafe

For February, the store partnered with Operation Kidsafe, a fingerprinting and child safety program, to hold a one-day event.

"We invited the public to come and bring their kids. We cooked hot dogs, had bouncy houses ... face-painting, [and] the first responders from the Birmingham Fire Department came," Israel said. "It was a great event and we probably fingerprinted 150 kids that day."

After getting fingerprinted, each child received an Amber Alert bio document, a detailed report of a child that is to be given to authorities if the child is ever missing.

"After the success of that first weekend, we decided to be the sole provider of this service so we leased [the system] from Kidsafe for one year," Shaw said.

The staff is trained in how to fingerprint and get the identification information to the parent, and the equipment is placed prominently in the showroom, Shaw said.

"We do a lot of different events, but we thought that was a good kickoff to our hundredth year because it focused on the children of our customers," Israel said. "God forbid that anybody should ever have to use that information, but if this allows the police to respond faster in an emergency, then I feel like we've contributed something to the quality of life in this community."

For March, the store ordered 600 pounds of crawfish and held a free crawfish boil that attracted around 1,000 people.

Shaw said raffle tickets were sold to benefit a young man who was waiting for a heart transplant at Children's of Alabama, a hospital affiliated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

"It was bigger than we expected," Israel said. "It was fun, but that was a lot of crawfish."

Motorcycle poker

On May 19, the store's collision center organized a motorcycle poker run to raise money for Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

The poker run had four stops, with the participants drawing a card at each. It started at the dealership, ran to a Harley-Davidson store in Pelham, Ala., and then back to Adamson Ford.

The final stop was the collision center, where the staff held raffles and gave prizes based on the poker hands that participants had compiled, Shaw said.

Proceeds from the event were given to the Alabama Lyme Disease Association.

The store is becoming a Roush Performance parts dealer, so for June the service department is organizing a Roush launch, inviting select customers, Shaw said.

"We're trying to couple with Austin Perine, who is a 4-year-old from the Birmingham area," Shaw said. "He goes around the city in his alter ego, which is a superhero, and he's set on feeding as many homeless people as he can."

The service department is figuring out a way to raise donations and collect food to support Perine's cause during the event.

"We don't want it to just be about selling cars, although that is our purpose and our reason for being here," Israel said. "But we also want to reward the community loyalty for allowing us to exist and be in business in downtown Birmingham for 100 years."

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