Service to the community has long been in the DNA of Subaru of Las Vegas, but the COVID-19 pandemic opened the retailer’s eyes to just how essential it is to its neighbors. Because car dealerships were deemed essential businesses, Subaru of Las Vegas was able to provide common space where members of the public could safely distance and carry out critical events, such as Red Cross® blood drives. When public spaces weren’t able to open, Subaru of Las Vegas invited nonprofits, health organizations and others to use its community room to further their goals.
That commitment only strengthened in the ensuing years. In 2022, Subaru of Las Vegas donated time, space and monetary contributions to 50 nonprofit partners, up from 23 in 2020. The community room now provides space for two to four events per week for partner organizations.
“This is us. This is what we do,” says general manager Burton Hughes, who has worked for Subaru of Las Vegas since 2005. “That sense of giving back to the community permeates our business. It is the culture of our business.”
Hughes emphasizes servant leadership, a philosophy of shared power and an orientation toward the greater good. Guided by this principle, Subaru of Las Vegas’ charitable partners span a wide range of causes, from Make-A-Wish® Southern Nevada, which creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses; to Red Rock Search & Rescue, a volunteer team that assists in finding missing and lost neighbors; to Michael’s Angel Paws, which offers service, therapy, and obedience training for dogs.
Subaru of Las Vegas is guided by the Subaru Love Promise pillars, especially in its efforts to serve those with critical illnesses, support pets and animals and provide educational opportunities. Charitable partners also tend to have a personal tie to employees.
“There is so much need out there, and it’s impossible for us to fulfill all of that. But your heart tells you where you need to help,” says assistant general manager Jennifer Vitale. “All of us on staff are uniquely and personally connected to either a story or the services that a nonprofit provides. We’re impacted in some shape or form.”
Since 2019, Subaru of Las Vegas has donated more than $200,000 to Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada, empowering over 20 wishes for local children and young adults, including the complete restoration of a 1981 vehicle for 20-year-old Joseph, who is battling chronic kidney disease. The retailer also jumped at the chance to assist the Jolly family, whose son, Colin, was given an off-road wheelchair to enable him to join his outdoor-loving family on hikes and camping trips.
“Adventure, off-road, all of that – we said, ‘This is a Subaru wish for sure!’” says Hughes. Subaru of Las Vegas doesn’t only provide monetary donations to Make-A-Wish, but it has also hosted five wish reveals at its showroom. The chance to actually meet and welcome the children and their families has had profound impacts on employees.
“We expect to go into it to make a difference, and we all come out of it with them having made an impact on us,” Vitale says.
In another example of how service reciprocally impacts employees as well as the community, five staff members from Subaru of Las Vegas volunteered to have their dogs trained as therapy dogs with Michael’s Angel Paws. This involved roughly 100 hours of training per dog before they graduated to full therapy dogs. Today, those canine ambassadors bring smiles and comfort to seniors in assisted living homes as well as to children and families.
Hughes credits Subaru of Las Vegas’ noncommissioned sales model for providing staff the time to connect more substantially with customers. This allows them to learn about neighbors’ needs beyond just buying or servicing a vehicle.
“We’re connecting with people on a deeper level,” Vitale says. “The fact that our employees genuinely have a heart to give back to the community. … These are the things that matter to the people who walk through our door. They’re not getting a show. They’re getting real people.”