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Inside Mazda

Locally Driven: How a Dealership Helped Pioneer a Nationwide Effort

Mazda Cares featuring Hodges Mazda

This is Mazda Cares. In light of COVID-19, we’re sharing stories of how our Mazda family is coping with (and even combatting) the crisis. Tracing back to our Hiroshima roots, Mazda has a deep history of helping communities in times of need. Our aim is to share stories that highlight our belief that what matters most is one another — because through the power of humanity and community, we can overcome any challenge.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its broad-reaching societal effects have left individuals and small and large business owners asking the question, “what can I do to help?”

During this time of great national need on many fronts, many automotive companies are discovering their greatest immediate utility can be achieved by leaning straight into their core competency: Vehicle service and maintenance.

Mazda, for its part, initiated its Essential Car Care program which offered free oil changes and enhanced cleaning services to qualified healthcare workers for the month of May. The program was inspired by several local Mazda dealers across the country who began offering similar grassroots services to their communities in the past several weeks, including David Hodges of Hodges Mazda at the Avenue in Jacksonville, Flordia.

David Hodges, who co-owns the dealership with his brother, Dan, described his lightbulb moment this way:

“My brother will tell you: I have about 100 ideas a minute and just about one a year that is any good. [But I thought], one of our core values is service. How do we serve our community during this time? We can’t make PPE [personal protective] equipment. We don’t have the manufacturing capability to produce masks. But we can do car services. We can take that pressure off of [healthcare workers].”

Hodges and his team started the effort with one social media post on March 18.

“We said, all you need to do is show your badge and we’ll do an oil change and car wash complementary. I had no idea it would take off like it did.”

To the delight of the Hodges team, the initiative did more than take off: it launched a sustained effort that’s still going strong. To-date, Hodges estimates the team has performed close to 400 oil change and car wash-combined services, and they will continue to provide daily services to healthcare workers through the end of the month.

When asked how his team is keeping up with the need, Hodges says the dealership has maintained a rotating staff model so employees can split time between work and spending time with their families. This also allows the team to adhere to the current local social distancing protocol.

Hodges also credits local leaders for their help in advising his business. “We are deemed an essential service by the state government. So [early on], we knew we needed to have a safe environment to keep our doors open during this time. I give the local leaders, our mayor and head of our chamber, a lot of credit. We are in constant contact with officials to understand how we keep folks safe … and protect our clients and serve them well. We will come through this stronger and we will learn great lessons. And if this happens again, we will be prepared.”

When asked about the “why” behind his effort, Hodges’s answer comes easily.

“I’m 4th generation here in Jacksonville. A lifer. My family and I have grown to love it here.”

And the healthcare workers?

“I’ve met them in the service lane. You talk about heroes. Those folks are heroes. What we are doing is just a small token of what they do for us every day.”