- Pennsylvania auto dealer emphasizes "giving back" to first responders.
- Assisted with the purchase of special K9 dog for community law enforcement.
- Dealer is active in helping to place stray, abandoned and abused animals.
NEWTON SQUARE, Pennsylvania — About 20 miles west of Philadelphia, family-owned Videon Chrysler Dodge Jeep has for 60 years kept community involvement on the front burner. But in addition to its innovative Videon Everyday Heroes program to direct special deals and finance rates to military members and first responders, the dealership recently went deeper to help its community.
When neighboring Folcroft Police Department's drug/bomb-sniffing dog died in late 2011, budget cuts kept the department from immediately replacing the valuable member of its force, for which basic costs for the dog and its training can exceed $15,000 — and double that for a fully trained dog-and-handler team.
Videon stepped in to hold a fundraiser to raise the money needed to help the K-9 unit. When it became clear the fundraiser alone wasn't going to raise enough to replace the deceased dog, Videon's management decided to pay for the dog.
"I grew up in that area, and many of our friends and customers live there now. We want to help make sure the neighborhood stays in good hands and to help keep it safe," said general sales manager Mike McVeigh, a local resident who's been in the car business for a decade.
Videon's recognition of people who serve the community, meanwhile, includes a page on the dealership's Web site dedicated to those selected as an Everyday Hero. Recent Everyday Hero Program honorees include an Army veteran who now volunteers for disabled American veterans and serves as vice president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the NAACP; a retired Marine and current local police officer; and a local detective who is a cancer survivor, father and assistant coach of the local high school wrestling team. Through the program, Videon makes a donation in the name of the hero to the charity of his or her choice.
Helping with the purchase of a K-9 unit dog was only one example of the Videon staff's love for animals of all kinds. The dealership's Web site incorporates a page dedicated to helping the Lawrence County Humane Society find homes for stray, abandoned or abused animals.
A special dealer "employee" is Mudge, a 6-year-old English mastiff who belongs to Steve Videon, the dealership's owner. Mudge walks freely through the dealership, both inside and on the new-inventory lot outside. Mudge, a gentle giant now weighing more than 100 pounds, began roaming the dealership as a puppy and makes friends with customers throughout the dealership. But Mudge doesn't like walking stairs, so when he wants to go upstairs or downstairs, he walks to the elevator and waits patiently to hitch a ride.
"These days, many dealerships have become so dependent on the Internet for business they have forgotten what made dealerships important back in the day: relationships," said McVeigh. "Relationships with the community. That was one of the great things about this dealership when my mom bought a car here 25 years ago: the community involvement. If you belong to and support the community, the community will support you."
Edmunds says: One dealership artfully weaving direct community involvement with doing business in the Internet age.