Written and Photographed by Ingrid Keizer
Friday, June 24th is Take Your Dog to Work Day but Brad Hewlett, Principal Dealer at Bob Allen Ford, is way ahead of the game. Brad’s canine companion, Mustang, has been accompanying Brad to work for years. Mustang is really far more than a “shop dog”. Mustang is an ambassador who greets guests with a his classic Labrador “smile” and delivers happiness to the employees at Bob Allen Ford.
Over six years ago Hewlett attended a conference in Vancouver where he stayed at a Fairmont Hotel. There he found two resident Yellow Labs hard at work, getting pats and scratches from hotel guests. It was then that he knew that the dealership needed that sweet touch that a dog can add. The following Father’s Day Mustang made an appearance into the Hewlett family home and into the lives of Bob Allen Ford customers and employees.
Mustang has been happily employed at Bob Allen Ford since entering Hewlett’s life. He walks the showroom floor inspecting new car arrivals, poking his nose into offices to say hello and contentedly sitting at Hewlett’s feet. Always that gentleman, Mustang is well behaved, never jumps, has excellent bathroom habits and knows instinctively who wants his company. Though Mustang certainly adds to the family friendly feel of the sizable dealership, the nearly 100 people employed at Bob Allen Ford function as a big family. Turn-over at the dealership is very low and like Brad Hewlett, many began working in their youth and have developed their decades long careers at Bob Allen Ford. Hewlett believes in taking care of his employees and evidence of employee retention is testimony to that fact. Hewlett is the first to acknowledge that the dealership’s success reflects most impressively in the dedication and hard work of his staff.
Interestingly, during the financial crises that began in 2007, Bob Allen Ford’s auto sales continued to thrive. Ford’s success as a car manufacturer was very apparent across the nation throughout the crises. While other domestic car manufacturers took government bailouts to stay afloat, Ford Motor Comapny refused bailout money and maintained its strength largely due to the leadership of CEO and Kansas University graduate Alan Mulally. As a result American enthusiasm for Ford soared and along with it Ford auto sales.
Historically Kansas City auto dealerships were locally owned and operated but like many industries, larger corporate dealerships have made their presence in the local marketplace. The financial strength of out of state, corporate owned dealerships makes competing a challenge. Kansas City however, has the tenacious spirit of taking care of its own. Leave it to Kansas City to recognize that when we support our local businesses we are putting our money back into the Kansas City community. This might also explain the over-whelming popularity of the Kansas City made and manufactured Ford F-10 pick-up.
In addition to serving as a great example of a Kansas City owned and operated business, Bob Allen Ford gives back to the Kansas City community with its financial contributions to Children’s Mercy Hospital, the local Ronald McDonald House and Rockhusrt High School, to name but a few. It’s apparent that Hewlett understands how it works in Kansas City; show your appreciation by giving back to your community, take care of your employees, represent a great product, earn the love of a dog and Kansas City will love you back.
Be sure to pop in and say, “Hello” to Mustang at Bob Allen Ford in Overland Park.