- Marthaler Chevrolet in Glenwood, Minnesota, has been donating equipment and sending young players to baseball clinics for five years.
- The small-town dealership has brought Chevys out for parents to try, donating money to the league for every completed test-drive.
- Dealership employees also show up at games, sometimes with ice-cream sandwiches for the players.
GLENWOOD, Minnesota — Marthaler Chevrolet has found an effective way to build community ties by supporting the local youth baseball league.
It's appropriate because this year, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game takes place in Minneapolis, with Chevrolet as the automotive sponsor and the bow-tie Chevy logo prominently displayed.
As much as this Chevy dealer appreciates the tie-in, it's located 130 miles west of the big-city ballpark.
Marthaler Chevrolet reaches its clients more directly, through its work with the local Minnewaska Baseball Association.
"We've been doing this for five years," New-Car Manager Emily Showalter told Edmunds.
She explained that Marthaler Chevrolet gives the teams items such as T-ball stands for the little ones and catcher's uniforms with the Chevrolet logo on them. Gear bags and Chevrolet Youth Baseball T-shirts are also handed out, although Showalter told Edmunds that they don't emblazon their dealership's name on team uniforms.
"We make a donation to the program, but we don't actually sponsor the teams," she explained.
Dealership employees do get into the spirit, though.
"We bring out the equipment and the ice-cream sandwiches, and we mingle," she said, but "we don't go out there saying, ‘Look, we did this.'"
Kids of all ages play in the local league, including the dealership owner's own children.
"This year we brought five or six Chevrolet vehicles out to a baseball clinic, and we donated money for each parent who took a test-drive," she said. "People recognize that we're supporting their youth."
Baseball, an all-American pastime, makes a good match for the Chevrolet brand, Marthaler recognizes.
Besides, it brings the community together.
"For as small a town as we're in" — population 2,527, but with almost 1,900 students in the consolidated school district — "there's a huge turnout in all the grades," Showalter added. "Kids learn about teamwork and good sportsmanship, and in the summer it gives them something to do every morning. And the coach is excellent."
How direct is the connection between the dealership's involvement and sales?
Showalter admits: "It's hard to say. I have yet to see a customer come in saying, 'We're here because of the baseball program.' But I definitely think that when they see us out there, people say, 'These are good people. They're here to support our community. We want to support them because they do things locally.'"
Edmunds says: The all-American pastime helps Marthaler Chevrolet reach out to car shoppers.