Many dealers quietly write checks to support charities in their communities. And that’s what Vince Sheehy could do to cover his company’s yearly commitment to the American Heart Association.
After all, his family’s 22 stores in the Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., area sold 44,000 new and used vehicles last year, so a five-figure check wouldn’t put much of a dent in his company’s bank account.
But Sheehy, president of Sheehy Auto Stores in Fairfax, Va., takes a different approach from many dealers to philanthropy. For Sheehy, raising money for the heart association involves almost all of the 2,400 employees in his stores, as well as vendors and customers, in an event called the Sheehy 8000. The goal: Sell 8,000 vehicles in 50 days and, in doing so, raise $225,000 to $300,000.
But there’s more: The association takes an active role in the event by educating the company’s customers and employees on heart health matters, offering CPR training and participating in in-store events.
While some might view the event with a $1 million advertising blitz as somewhat gimmicky or a public relations stunt, it’s anything but, says Sheehy.
“During one of the events three years ago, my father had a series of strokes and was incapacitated in a wheelchair for the next nine months until he passed away,” said Sheehy, 60, a dealer since 1991. “He had several heart issues that preceded that. So, it became a very personal cause to me and my family.”
Sheehy Auto Stores ranks No. 32 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 23,772 new vehicles in 2018.