The Stranded Motorist Fund: Paying it Forward

Feb. 9, 2024
How Dan Adam of Adam & Son Auto Repair found a way to change the lives of his customers in need.

“This doesn’t happen. This is a miracle.”

This is a quote from one of the recipients of a car repaired through The Stranded Motorist Fund in a touching video testimonial.

“If you’re hungry, you can go to a food bank,” Dan Adam says. “You can’t do that for a car.”

Transportation, for many, is just as important as food. It’s how people get to and from work, school, and loved ones. However, according to a survey by MarketWatch, over a third of Americans would not be able to afford a repair over $500 without going into debt.

Adam, owner of Adam & Son Auto Repair and Service in Colorado Springs, Colorado, made it his mission to help people unable to pay to repair their vehicle and funded the Stranded Motorist Fund, an organization that helps those most in need.

 

Backstory:  

Since Adam started his career, he’s wanted to make the auto industry a better place for those who work in it and for customers. This stems from his first job as a tech, where he worked in what he describes as a toxic culture with horrible customer service. When he opened his shop in 1999, he wanted to take all of the ideas that he’d been brainstorming for improvement and implement them in his shop.

 

Problem:  

Adam realized The Stranded Motorist Fund was needed when one of his service advisors asked what they do if someone needed help getting a car repair that they couldn’t afford. There was financing available, but for some, that wasn’t enough. Adam tasked the service advisor with finding resources and when he realized that there wasn’t anything out there, he decided to do something about it.

 

Solution:  

In 2020, The Stranded Motorist Fund was founded to help people in Colorado Springs who can’t afford a car repair. Since it began, it has helped with over $150,000 in car repairs and put many, such as Mary, back on the road.

Mary, a CNA, was coming out of a domestic violence situation where her ex-partner was following her and vandalizing her vehicle. The car eventually broke down and because she was unable to pay to have it fixed, she was unable to get to work or go shopping for food. The Stranded Motorist Fund heard about Mary’s situation and decided to do something about it. Because of the Stranded Motorist Fund, she was able to repair her vehicle, get back to work, and visit her granddaughter for the first time in over a month. It’s easy to take a vehicle for granted, but when it breaks down and you’re unable to repair it, you see just how essential it is. The Stranded Motorist Fund has changed the lives of those who have benefited from it.

To be considered, customers simply fill out an application that is reviewed by the Stranded Motorist Fund committee. The application vets customers out to see why they need the assistance and how they will pay it forward. Once a customer is approved, the repairs can begin. On average, Adam says they see about 10 applications per week. Anyone can donate to the fund.

 

Aftermath:  

Since 2020, The Stranded Motorist Fund has raised over $150,000 in community support, most of which has been funded by Adam. Beyond helping the community and having a huge impact on individuals' lives, Adam says that it’s been a huge boost in morale for the staff and helped him create a culture where people want to come to work.

“Helping our community helps us with our own people. People want to be a part of it when they hear what we’re doing. They come to work with a sense of purpose knowing that they get to impact people’s lives and work for a shop that has a bigger purpose,” Adam says. “It is so great to be a part of something bigger than just fixing cars.”

Being a part of something so positive also helps with attracting and retaining customers. It’s also been a great marketing tool, and, even though it is not at all why Adam started it, it’s been a bonus!

Currently, the fund is only available for Adam’s shops, but he would like to take it to a national level. Right now, he’s in the process of testing it out at his two locations to make sure the proper processes are in order but he’s in talks with other shops that are interested in joining the mission.

 

Takeaway:  

You can be profitable doing good, Adam says.

“If you can find a way to do good in your community, it pays dividends.” 

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