Dealer Stories

They Brought a Zoo to Byers Chevrolet

You have to love an industry where donations are measured in literal truckloads!
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They Brought a Zoo to Byers Chevrolet

When I was a child, my dad's company hosted a family day. It was a carnival where every ride was free, every game threw out prizes, and the snacks seemed endless. I remember walking around with a stuffed lobster I won at a ring tossing game as vividly as if it happened yesterday. However, if offered a shoebox filled with money, I could not tell somebody what year that was, what grade I was in, or if it was early spring or late summer. The memory exists as a time when I felt grateful and lucky for just being a kid. 

Recently, I was browsing through LinkedIn when a post by Jimmy Jones with Byers Automotive caught my eye. "Bring the kiddos by the store tomorrow to see some animals from the Columbus Zoo!" he wrote. When I saw an auto dealership hosting "representatives" from a local zoo, and the doors were open to the public, I googled the distance – pretty far. 

Luckily, Jimmy was kind enough to chat with me through text and fill me in on this fantastic event. 

How many folks showed up?

Jimmy: We had roughly 100 families attend. With each family probably averaging three people, I would say a good estimate is 300 folks that showed up to see the animals.  

Awesome! So what animals did the zoo bring? 

Jimmy: They brought six animals in total

  • Leopard Tortoise, 
  • Echidna (a porcupine like animal native to Australia)
  • Armadillo 
  • Shingleback lizard
  • Anteater 
  • Sloth. 

Did any one animal steal the show? 

Jimmy: The one that probably stole the show would have been the sloth. Even though it was the only one that the kids could not touch, it stole the show.  

How did you advertise the event? 

Jimmy: I created a Facebook Event page and made it public on my Facebook page, our dealership's FB page (Byers Chevrolet), and our dealer group's FB page (Byers Automotive). I then pushed it out to several local community Facebook groups, where it picked up quite a bit of steam.  

Why did you host this event? 

Jimmy: I love doing events for the local community. The Agriculture business is extremely relationship-driven. I spent almost 15 years working for one of the nation's premier John Deere Dealership groups. We constantly did events for our customers and community through a management committee. 

“What better way to build a relationship with your customers than to put on family fun events for them?”

Jimmy: When I transitioned to the auto industry two years ago, I decided that I wanted to continue that same approach and dedication to the dealership's community. We didn't get a chance to do any events in 2020 due to COVID. In 2021 I coordinated several events at the store, including a Touch a Truck event that featured nearly 30 trucks, tractors, first responder vehicles, etc., that brought in over 3000 people on our lot in 4 hours. We asked each family to bring canned goods to donate to the local Food Pantry, and we ended up filling the bed of two Silverado pick-up trucks with donated canned goods. 

Another time we hosted a large toy drive that filled an entire Silverado as well. What we collected was given to the Salvation Army to pass out to children at Christmas. We held Santa pictures at our store to end the year, combined with a 2nd toy drive. We probably had 80 to 100 families show up for the Santa pictures. 

“Ultimately, I want folks to not only think of Byers Chevrolet as a car dealership but also as a local business that supports the community with events that are fun for the family. “ 

Thanks again for your time, Jimmy, and thank you to the entire Byers Chevrolet team for caring for your community. I cannot speak for the kids who had this unique and wonderful experience, but I am willing to bet they will never forget feeling lucky to just be a kid. 

About The Author
Chris Reeves

Staff Writer, ASOTU
chris@asotu.com

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