Virginia dealer group celebrates 75th anniversary with 75 acts of kindness

Today on Inside Automotive, we’re pleased to welcome the President of Marlow Automotive Group, Emily Marlow Beck. Marlow Automotive Group, based in Virginia, is celebrating 75 years in the car business this year. In honor of this milestone, the group gave back to their community by committing to doing 75 acts of kindness during the month of July.

Image by Marlow Automotive Group

Marlow Automotive Group is located in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and has locations in Front Royal, Winchester, and Luray, Virginia. The group was founded in 1947 during widespread shortages, allowing Marlow to “lean in” to the longevity the group has had to help them through the current ongoing inventory struggles. Beck is now the third generation to be running the auto group.

Beck says that in January of 2022, Marlow Automotive Group internally discussed what it means to be a local business and ultimately launched an employee-led commitment to kindness that ran throughout the month of July. Carrying out acts of kindness, she says, taught them a lot about themselves and their culture.

Some acts of kindness Beck’s group carried out included assisting the homeless and taking on landscaping projects. Overall, she says it has been a “special experience” for her group.

Beck reports the auto industry is often “so misunderstood,” as many people erroneously don’t think of car dealers in a “non-threatening” way. She notes that being engaged with the local community builds trust and understanding between car dealers and their customers.

Image by Marlow Automotive Group via LinkedIn

While there are no plans to make a commitment as significant as the one Marlow Automotive Group made for July, Beck says that each of the group’s three stores has a committee that will analyze how they can successfully get involved in the community and “become part of their culture.” Ultimately, she notes that culture must be caught – not taught.

There have historically been fewer women than men in the retail automotive industry. Beck says this could be changed if women think about “what they bring to the table” instead of being “intimidated by what they don’t know.”

Many women are hesitant to enter the auto industry because of potential long hours and little time off, and Beck says this concept is not solely a “woman issue.” Instead, she states, it is a “family issue,” and supporting parents regardless of gender is essential.

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Ultimately, she says a diverse workforce is critical for solving customers’ problems.

Regarding a potential shift to a direct-to-consumer sales model, Beck suggests all car dealers be involved in their states’ dealers’ associations and “become very good storytellers” about what value they bring to their local communities.

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