It was a sunny day in March 2011. I called my friend Jody Gatchell with A & J Collision to ask for help doing a car giveaway. Jody had done a few, so I thought I would call the expert for tips and advice. He gave me lots of ideas, and I went to work on organizing my first car giveaway. But I was having trouble coming up with a name for my event—in fact, you could say I hit a wall.
A couple weeks later, Jody called me on his way home from work and said, “Dino, I’ve thought of a great name for the giveaway… WHEELS TO PROSPER!” It was the perfect name, and believe me, I was grateful for Jody’s help. The name also seemed like it could be something bigger than one car giveaway at my shop. What if Wheels to Prosper could become an entire movement?
We decided to take the Wheels to Prosper name and run—or rather drive—with it. With more shops involved, we could do a nationwide giveaway, helping hundreds of people. And wouldn’t it be cool if participating shops held their giveaways every year on the same day and at the same time?
Coincidentally, the day after we talked about our ideas and goals for Wheels to Prosper, Sports Bill from Management Success! called, and he said we needed to lock down the name Wheels to Prosper for a website, which would enable us to reach out to auto shops everywhere. So MS Web Pros, the web design team at Management Success!, built us a website, and we were off to the races.
At the next Management Success! convention, we announced the Wheels to Prosper nationwide car giveaway, and nine other shops decided to join us in our cause. Now we have over 30 participating shops, and we’re confident we’ll keep growing.
The gift of a reliable car to a deserving person was just a concept, an idea, a public relations project…but then…. it became something that changed my life. Here’s how it all started for me.
My name is Jim Anderson, and I own an auto repair shop in Marion, Iowa. It was the Fall of 2008, and I was at Management Success! for a workshop, visiting with other shop owners during a break. The discussion was about the recent $4-per-gallon gas prices, and a fellow from Florida stated that it had affected truck sales so much that a Ford-Kia dealer near his shop was doing a “buy one get one free” on new cars. Buy a new full-size truck and get a new Kia Rio!
The thought and power of the “free car” statement stayed with me over the next few days. While on the flight home, I started to develop a plan to do something at my own shop and incorporate a “free car” into a public relations campaign. Wheels of Change was born!
When first launched the following spring, the program had, for various reasons, developed into a nomination process for a deserving person to purchase the car for $1. The response was overwhelming—I was not aware of so much need in my own community! As I read the stories of many, many deserving people, I found myself wishing I had 10 cars to award. It was then that I decided to make it an ongoing program.
That first year, it was a very tough decision. Finally, on March 31st, 2009, Brooke and Aaron Sluiter purchased the very first car awarded—a 1999 Nissan Altima—for $1. And the rest, as they say, is history. We have been doing Wheels of Change ever since.
Over the next couple of years, after the success of that initial award, several other MS! shop owners across the country did similar car giveaways. Dino and Jodi had also begun working together to build Wheels to Prosper. A simple concept had really grown into something we could all be proud of.
Now, the efforts of Wheels to Prosper and Wheels of Change have come together, and I am very excited about what the future will bring!