Bret Keisling celebrates Fitzgerald Auto Mall's recent transition to a 100% ESOP, making it the latest US auto dealer group to become 100% employee owned. The company represents over twenty brands in twenty-six showrooms in three states, and their customer-driven approach and support of their communities make it a great addition to employee ownership.
Mini-cast 221 Transcript
[00:00:00] Bret Keisling: Welcome to the EsOp Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling, and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. This week, my social media feeds were on fire with the news that the Fitzgerald Auto Mall has become the largest car dealership group in the United States to become a 100% ESOP.
[00:00:31] This is a very exciting development for a couple of reasons that I'll share in a few moments, but let's talk about Fitzgerald Auto Mall. It began in 1966, when Jack Fitzgerald founded Fitzgerald's Colonial Dodge in Bethesda, Maryland. Since then, they've grown to represent over 20 different brands in 26 showrooms. They're located in Clearwater, Florida and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and the rest of the locations are located in Maryland. Fitzgerald Auto Mall has built their business by following what they call the FitzWay, hallmarks of which include no-haggle and no hassle posted pricing for both new and used cars. They stress transparency to their customers so the customers can understand the value of whatever vehicle they choose to purchase.
[00:01:19] We often say that some companies have an employee ownership vibe long before they become employee owned. Fitzgerald Auto Mall certainly fits into this category. We'll include some links in our show notes, both to Fitzgerald and a press release announcing its transition to employee ownership.
[00:01:35] But what really caught my eye on the company website, from a company culture perspective, was the link to their community service, which states that Fitzgerald has quote, "implemented a number of programs ranging from consumer safety and education to improving our environment, taking on animal advocacy roles and reducing our energy consumption."
[00:01:57] To this end, the locations, hold child car seat inspection programs and, be still my heart, they hold pet adoption events where they work with rescues, such as the Humane Society to find good homes for animals that are currently at shelters or in foster care. They host child ID events that include digital fingerprinting and picture ID and voice recognition. They work to help the environment by holding major recycling efforts and they focus on their own consumption of energy.
[00:02:27] They also provide veteran support through the Yellow Ribbon Fund to assist injured service members and their families who are being treated or recuperating at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center. They provide free rental cars and free taxi rides and free hotel room nights and so much more to support the returning veterans.
[00:02:50] Their level of support to community and causes that are important to them are such an important part of so many of our great employee-owned companies.
[00:02:59] I don't have much information on who the advisors of the transaction were. Although I did see on social media that SC&H Group and its managing director in Maryland, Greg Hogan, were integral in having the transaction take place.
[00:03:12] This is such an exciting time for growing employee ownership and we see it manifest itself in lots of different ways. One of the things I really love about a company like Fitzgerald Auto Mall becoming an ESOP is that, no doubt, becoming employee owned will become a strong part of the company's identity, and that means all of their customers will be exposed to employee ownership, as will all of the vendors and suppliers, et cetera.
[00:03:36] The more people in companies that are exposed to employee ownership, the more likely the word will continue to spread about the power of ESOPs and employee ownership and will likely lead to heightened interest, and that helps all of us.
[00:03:48] So, congratulations to all of the new employee owners at Fitzgerald Auto Mall and congrats, also, to the shareholders and management team and the advisors who made the transaction a reality. We're thrilled to add you to the more than 6,000 employee-owned companies here in the United States.
[00:04:04] With that, we'll wrap up today's episode of the Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.
[00:04:10] Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook at EO Podcast Network and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. This podcast has been produced by Bret Keisling for the EO Podcast Network, original music composed by Max Keisling, branding and marketing by BitsyPlus Design, and I'm Bitsy McCann.
Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.
A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Descript, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The EsOp Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.