By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Independent
Another Stettler and District Board of Trade honour handed out at the recent awards went to Stettler Dodge.
Stettler Dodge was recognized as Corporate Citizen of the Year during the ceremony held Oct. 22nd.
“I don’t look for awards, we try to do what we feel is right,” said Stettler Dodge owner Kelly Hicks during a recent interview.
“Being recognized as Corporate Citizen is certainly an honour.”
Hicks has owned Stettler Dodge since he purchased it from the previous owners in February of 2003, though the Stettler Dodge roots go much deeper than that.
“One thing that a lot of people might not know is that Stettler is one of the communities with the longest continuous Chrysler dealers,” said Hicks. “January 4th of this year (was) 75 years that there’s been a Chrysler dealer in Stettler. It’s kind of a unique thing. I think there’s only one or two communities that might have been longer in all of Canada.”
Like many other businesses across the province, the ongoing pandemic has affected the dealership as well.
“We normally have around 30 staff,” said Hicks. “But that’s a little reduced due to COVID.”
To keep staff and customers safe, Stettler Dodge has rolled out some new preventative measures, including putting up safety screens and making hand sanitizer available.
“We’re taking all the precautions that we can think of that make sense and keep things safe. I think the community as a whole has done a great job of it,” said Hicks.
Meanwhile, Hicks has managed to develop a certain amount of loyalty from his staff, with 17 of them having been employed at the dealership for five years or longer.
“That’s a testament that we treat our people right, because without good people, the rest is just brick and mortar,” said Hicks. “Our motto has always been, ‘Locally owned, community involved, and customer driven’.”
As part of the business’s community involvement, Stettler Dodge helps many volunteer-run organizations in town, including the Heartland Youth Centre. “We just try to do our part. Growing up, businesses supported groups and events in the community that I was part of, and I’d just like to do the same in the community we are now living in,” said Hicks.
“Obviously, COVID has made it harder for the community groups to get the funding they need from the community, so we just try to do what we can where we can.”
Looking ahead, Hicks acknowledges that for his business, and many others, things are not going to be the same as it was pre-COVID.
“Obviously what used to be normal is going to be different. Perhaps more people working from home. Every business is kind of adapting in lots of ways,” said Hicks. “I think people realize we have to live with the COVID situation and make the best of it and carry on with our lives.”
Hicks and his team can be found down at Stettler Dodge from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.