Ken Garff Automotive is helping small businesses across the state of Utah and surprising first responders working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic by providing free meals, flowers and other merchandise.
Ken Garff Market President Jason Frampton said company administrators felt lucky that they were named an essential business while so many others were forced to close their doors.
Having heard the tales of business owners having to furlough and lay off their employees and other small businesses staying the course while experiencing significant decreases in revenue, Frampton said he knew something had to be done.
“Our business, while it is down, has not suffered to the extent of other businesses,” he said. “With 1,700 employees, everybody has a story of somebody they know who is really struggling.”
That is when Frampton reached out to the company’s employees throughout Utah, looking for a way to support essential workers while helping local businesses.
Each of the company’s 21 Utah dealerships agreed to host two events over eight weeks for a group in need. The “We’re Here For You” initiative is expected to continue through July 23.
The Ken Garff locations in American Fork chose to support law enforcement and first responders by providing 300 meals to personnel working the frontlines over two consecutive days.
Beginning Wednesday and continuing into the day Thursday, employees at both American Fork locations surprised first responders by serving policemen, firefighters and hospital staff with free lunches from local restaurants.
The company has been keeping the initiative and its various events a surprise for as long as it could, but Frampton said this has not been without its challenges.
Key personnel at each small business and pop-up location were made aware of the events, but for the most part, American Fork first responders were unaware of Wednesday’s and Thursday’s events.
“We have to measure the element of surprise, which of course is a lot of fun, with the challenge of logistics,” he said. “When you’re talking about ordering 300 lunches per day and being able to deliver those to a lot of people, there’s a lot of logistics involved.”
The company spent about $3,000 each day at various restaurants in the area as a means to help small businesses recover some of the revenue they lost during the pandemic.
Frampton said Ken Garff doesn’t expect to recoup the costs associated with the events across the state.
“This is something we’re doing and we’re willing to spend,” he said. “It’s worth it for us just to try to reach out to try to help others. It’s an expense for us, but we’ve been more fortunate than most, so it’s an expense we’re happy to incur.”
With two events per location, Frampton said the company is hoping to tide businesses over and lift community spirits until the end of the pandemic and subsequent economic recession.
However, the company is evaluating to see if more events are plausible or necessary.
“One of the benefits of having the dealerships that we have is we’re in lots of different communities,” Frampton said. “Each one of these projects is meant to support the local businesses.”
Ken Garff Automotive already has two charitable programs that are run through its dealerships across the state. Road to Success and Keys to Success are incentive-based programs for primary and high school students run by administrators, faculty and staff to help motivate students to achieve academic success.
Founder Ken Garff opened his first dealership in 1932, which has since expanded to 50 nationwide dealerships.