Lots of dealers just sell cars. Some give back to the community with generous donations. But a select few go above and beyond. Meet Carl Swope, owner of Swope Automotive and the 2017 TIME Dealer of the Year. This prestigious award is arguably the greatest honor a new-car dealer can receive. It recognizes not only great leadership in sales but also unparalleled community service and outreach.
While becoming one of the most successful businesspeople in the region, Swope realized he could do more than donate money to good causes. He wanted his employees involved and excited. In his self-effacing way, Swope explained, “Iʼm one guy. I can write some checks. But if I get the whole organization involved, the change will be much larger.” He started an initiative to get employees and business partners to volunteer ideas and labor to help the community. He made sure revitalizing and improving his hometown Elizabethtown, KY became a company-wide mission. Giving back became not just one part of Swope Automotive, but it was written into the “business’s DNA.”
When asked about his community efforts, Swope said, “I realized how powerful our dealerships can be if I encourage and support all of our leadership and associates to get involved. Together, we are making Elizabethtown and the central Kentucky region a better place.”
Swope has a vision of a thriving, vibrant Elizabethtown. This vision comes from memories of “E-town” (as locals call it) from when he was a boy in the 1960s. In the last 50 years, downtown has emptied of commerce and activity. Swope has partnered with other local businesses to form the Elizabethtown Renaissance Associates to revitalize the region. Swope Automotive has worked with Habitat for Humanity, Feeding America, United Way, Lord’s Supper Mobile Ministry, Helping Hands of Hope, and more.
The TIME award comes with a $10,000 prize, payable to a nonprofit of Swope’s choice.
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