Dealership with a Heart

  Received a tip on a “good deed” that led me into the beautiful facility that houses Largo Honda on U.S. 1 in Florida City. 

   At the front desk sat smiling Joalice who directed me to Sales Manager Brett Dolar.  Brett informed me that he, like many others, have worked for Rick LaMaire, general manager of Largo Honda for years.  Many of those employees worked for the dealership prior to its relocation from Key Largo some 11 years ago. Brett has been with the company 16 years but enter Chris Buchanan who has him beat by four!

  It was Chris who approached Rick asking if she could stay at the dealership to weather out Hurricane Irma since she lives in a trailer in Key Largo.  Without hesitation, permission was granted by Rick.  Before long others asked if they and their families could join Chris. After all, the building was built to the stringent code instituted after Hurricane Andrew.  Soon the list had grown to 40 people plus four dogs, six cats and a pet rat.  Included in the 40 were 12 children, the youngest being just six weeks old. Several ex-employees were welcomed to join the dealership turned shelter but that’s not all. Rick, his Mrs. and their daughter joined in this gigantic hurricane gathering.

  All brought food and beverages assuring that no one would miss a meal.  While the children and young at heart watched Disney movies others rolled their chairs near the super thick glass windows watching the wrath of the storm.  Others braved a bit of the elements and went in the third story parking area experiencing a bit of the winds first hand.

  Taking a tour of the building, Brett took me to what he calls “the Inner Cave.” This is a 10 by 20 foot concrete room located in the center of the dealership. This vault was part of a back-up plan that was available but not needed.

  We made it up to the fifth floor where the Homestead Police Department housed extra police cars including a vintage 1953 Chevy that entered and left in perfect condition. I would have loved a ride in this beauty but not in the back seat!

  Brett added, “We had the generators ready but never had to use them. In fact, everything ran smoothly, even clean up.  Everyone did their part.  Rick never thought twice about opening the doors of the dealership.” 

  As I stopped by the front desk on my way out Joalice mentioned, “It was like having a gigantic slumber party with co-workers who feel like an extended family.” 

  After meeting with Rick the next day it was clear why his employees hold him in such high esteem.