It's not a secret that American car dealers are great supporters of their communities. It just seems that way sometimes.
Take Tamara Darvish, a high-profile dealer in Silver Spring, Md. She is well-known as a co-founder of the Committee to Restore Dealer Rights two years ago and a key figure in the fight in Congress to help rejected dealers get their franchises back.
But who knew that Darvish finds time to teach a class on business and life skills at a Washington, D.C., high school that is synonymous with gang warfare?
On the other hand, some dealers and dealerships are widely recognized for their efforts. Ken Garff Automotive Group, one of the nation's largest car retailers, sponsors an education and literacy program in Utah schools that rivals the state high school basketball tournament for renown.
Dealers give back in countless ways. Scott Wood used his business acumen to get a critical school bond issue passed in Batesville, Ark. Ray Ciccolo opened an orphanage in China for disabled children. Steve Lapin performs rock concerts to raise money so kids in underprivileged sections of Los Angeles can play Little League baseball.
It's hard to be a successful car dealer and not feel a debt of gratitude to your community -- or even communities far removed from where you sell cars.
"Dealers are an extension of our own culture," says Steve Center, chief marketing officer for American Honda Motor Co. "Mr. Honda's dream was that we would become part of the community in which we sell our products. We want to become part of that fabric. You can't succeed in a community without becoming part of it. Customers want to know you are giving back."