Published on November 5, 2012 @ 12:05pm EST

The cost of commitment

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D.—As of mid September, Tires Tires Tires had $83,947 worth of parts and labor invested in bringing this year's “Angel Cars” up to snuff.

Karen Hattervig, who oversees donations of vehicles for the Angel Cars reconditioning program, admits she was stunned when Tires Tires Tires (T3) approached her about collaborating on the project.

“I couldn't believe a business was willing to donate that much to help someone,” she said. “That's a lot of money to repair a car. There was nothing in it for them except that they were helping people who needed help.”

Dale Nothdurft, vice president and co-owner of T3, decides whether a donated car is salvageable. The Sioux Falls-based dealership, which has gone to the extent of replacing engines and overhauling transmissions, engages other businesses for things like windshields and clipboards. (It takes 150 of the latter just to keep track of the vehicles as they go through the evaluation process.)

“You don't think of these things when you say, 'Let's do this cool little project.' We never thought it would get this big,” T3 General Manager Gary Michaels said. “Yet, when the question came up, 'Do you want to continue the program?' we said, 'Absolutely.' It was an instantaneous decision.”

Ms. Hattervig's nonprofit group, Sioux Empire Wheels to Work, provides T3 with an annual affidavit listing all the parts and services the company has provided to the charity, but T3 chooses not to claim those potential deductions. Instead, it absorbs the expenses. (The $2,500 cash award that accompanies the Tire Dealer Humanitarian of the Year Award will be donated to the Angel Cars program, Tires Tires Tires said.)

Dan Nothdurft poses a philosophical question: “If you did claim all those contributions, then is it really a gift? Or is it just a deduction?”

The Nothdurfts and Mr. Michaels said they were planning to be at the Global Tire Expo in Las Vegas during the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show to talk about how tire dealers can make a difference in their communities. Their “Tires at Two” session was scheduled for Oct. 30, Mr. Michaels said.

“They need to set a budget. Figure it out at the beginning of the year,” he said. “It doesn't matter how big or small it is. Decide on a community activity. Commit to it. And do it. Interview different partners to do it with. Find one that you believe in from your heart.

“Don't think about whether you're going to get paid back,” Mr. Michaels said. “Do it because you believe in it. And you'll get paid back in blessings that you'll never even begin to realize in your lifetime.”

Dan Nothdurft agreed. “We didn't want the (Humanitarian) award. We wanted a chance to let others know how tire dealers can go into their community and make a true difference, think outside the box and become passionate about it.

“The Angel Cars program's just marvelous. It feels so good to help out people who are truly in need instead of donating money to some organization that keeps 85 percent and only 15 percent goes to the people in need.”

Link: http://www.tirebusiness.com/article/20121105/ISSUE/311059988&template=printart

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