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Archive for December, 2012

Van Horn Family Gives Back To The Community

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

The name Van Horn means more than car dealerships.

The name represents a family who believes in giving back to the community, whether that involves making monetary donations or getting right out there, rolling up their sleeves, and working side by side with others to help out where their efforts are most needed. They’ve been doing this for almost 50 years.

The first of three generations, Joe Van Horn, started from the bottom in 1966 and built his business up with hard work and commitment.

Joe had moved from Chicago to adopt Plymouth as his new home. To feed his family of eight, he purchased Wagner Chevrolet on the corner of Factory and Schwartz and opened his first dealership. Then, in 1977, he relocated to Eastern Avenue near STH 57, where the business is currently located. In the next 35 years, the company grew and flourished, both under Joe’s ownership and, later, his son Chuck’s.

Today the company operates in six locations.

As their dealership grew, however, the Van Horns have always played an intricate role in the community, feeling a deep desire to give back in any way they can.

Special interest in young people 

Teresa Van Horn, one of Joe’s daughters and dealer of Van Horn Chevrolet, has a special interest in young people, having four children of her own. She volunteers for school events and acts as coach. The youths are the building blocks of the future. By showing an active interest in their welfare, the entire community benefits in the long run, she said.

“While we are here, we should share our talent, time and treasure with others,” she said. “We should do whatever we can to make our community better.”

Chuck Van Horn, Teresa’s brother and father of a daughter of his own, has volunteered for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program for almost 15 years, showing that he, too, demonstrates an interest in young people. “Our family values carry over into all we do,” said the Van Horns, “and we eagerly engage ourselves in opportunities to use our resources to enhance and aid the lives of others.”

Intergenerational center started

Over the years, the projects and community events the Van Horns have involved themselves in are too numerous to mention. One recent undertaking, however, is the completion of the Plymouth Intergenerational Coalition which involved some $150,000 to get that initiative off the ground. Joann (Van Horn) Wieland, another Van Horn sibling, was instrumental in getting that project going.

Today, located on CTH E north of Eastern Avenue, the center is devoted to bringing generations, old and young, together. It provides an opportunity for people of different ages to learn from each other and work together. To that end, the center houses the Plymouth Senior Center, Growing Generations Child Care Center, the Family Resource Center and Head Start.

“I believe in the concept of putting old and young together,” said Chuck Van Horn. “The wisdom and knowledge adults have is often wasted in our society. If the Intergenerational Center can put young people and older, wiser people together, that theory makes a lot of sense to me.”

Another group the Van Horns have shown a special interest in are students, whether it’s providing a van to help Lakeland College students carpool to improve the environment or updating antiquated equipment at Plymouth High School.

Last December, Teresa Van Horn presented the high school with a $15,000 check as the first of three installments to be used for renovations to the Technology Education and Engineering Department for the purchase of tools, shop equipment and improvements to the transportation technology program.

Hiring from local schools 

Many current and former employees at Van Horn are graduates of the high school, and Van Horn would like to continue to hire from the community if possible.

“We’d like to get the kids to see that an automotive technician is a good career,” Teresa said. “We thought this would be a great way for us to help get students started on that career path.”

In addition to encouraging students to consider the field of auto mechanics, the interest shown by the dealership also encourages students to stay in school period, to get a diploma and to consider a career goal.

Another project Teresa has been particularly involved in over the years is the Above and Beyond Children’s Museum in Sheboygan, a non-profit organization that offers a multitude of recreational experiences and learning opportunities for younger children.

The Van Horn Automotive Group donates time and energy to organizations as varied as the Sheboygan Hmong Association, Gentle Hands Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation, and the Cheesehead Chase Race to Support Women’s Causes. Whether the project encompasses food drives for the hungry, donations to organizations that help cancer victims or youth baseball, if it’s an opportunity to improve the community, Van Horn gets involved in them all.

And if that’s not enough, they also provide opportunities for their employees to maintain their overall health.

One example of this is the Smoke Free Smoking Cessation Program to provide education, support and encouragement to quit the tobacco habit. Van Horn sponsors classes in this area for their employees and their families.

The company has also partnered with St. Nicholas Hospital and Prevea to provide other health and wellness services to improve health care costs to both employees and to the company itself. A nurse practitioner and a physical therapist are on hand for employees. The idea is to prevent illness before it happens, which means healthy employees and less sick leave.

These efforts are all a part of giving back to the community Joe Van Horn and his family adopted as their own almost 50 years ago. Whether it involves the city of Plymouth or the county that surrounds it, the Van Horns consider the area a good and safe place to live and raise a family. They want to protect that environment by giving back to the people of the community who made their success possible.

Article by Mary Matsumoto at Delta Publications

Van Horn Dodge Received Thank You Card From Plymouth High School

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Van Horn Dodge received a Thank You card from Plymouth High School for sponsoring their camp T-shirts again this year.

Van Horn Hyundai Sponsored Christmas For The City Event in Sheboygan

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Van Horn Hyundai Mazda of Sheboygan would like to share with you a wonderful thank you note they received from a guest at Christmas For The City! 

Van Horn Automotive Sponsored Plymouth Rotary Roast

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Rotary Club, in Celebration of the club’s 45th Anniversary, held the 2012 Rotary Roast at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake on Tuesday, November 13 featuring Lou Gentine, Chairman & CEO of Sargento.

The event was attended by nearly 240 people and raised more than $10,000 for the Plymouth Rotary Club’s annual scholarships and community projects. Such projects have included support for Rotary Park, The Welcome Table, Plymouth School District, Plymouth Arts Foundation, Plymouth Intergenerational Center, Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and may more organizations throughout the years.
In addition, the Plymouth Rotary Club supports several area high school students’ participation in the annual World Affairs Seminar. The week-long international seminar held each summer builds global leaders and citizens through an innovative and rigorous academic program.

According to Plymouth Rotary Club President, Chris Merklein, “We have also identified a need in the community to replace playground equipment at Rotary Park working in conjunction with the City of Plymouth Parks Committee.”

“We certainly thank Lou Gentine as the roastee, Mark Rhyan as the master of ceremonies along with Karri Neils, Jim Sartori, Gentine, Attorney David Andrews and Dr. Michael Jacquat as the roasters, for making this event such a wonderful success,” added Merklein.

The event featured many interesting and humorous stories about Gentine, skillfully communicated by employees, family and friends. This historic event was captured on video by SilverWater Productions of Plymouth and will be available for purchase in the near future from the Plymouth Rotary Club.

Corporate table sponsors for the event included: Sargento, Sartori Company, Van Horn Automotive Group, Masters Gallery and Veritas Financial Services. Additional support for the event came from many silent auction donors.

The Plymouth Rotary Club intends to make the Rotary Roast an annual event and is accepting nominations for a 2013 roastee.

In honor of Gentine’s support of the 2012 Rotary Roast and his overall contribution to the area community, Merklein presented Gentine with an Honorary Paul Harris Fellow framed commemorative certificate and medallion. Harris was the founder of Rotary. Paul Harris Fellows are recognized for a $1,000 or more contribution to the Rotary Annual Programs Fund, PolioPlus, or the Humanitarian Grants Program.

This honorary award to Gentine was made possible by funds donated to Rotary International by Karen White, Plymouth Rotary Club’s secretary and treasurer.

Written by Staff on December 3, 2012.

A Thank You Letter From The North Side Chrisitan Food Pantry

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

At Van Horn Hyundai of Sheboygan, we are always thrilled when our actions in the community are acknowledged and we feel so great about our 2nd Annual Employee Food Drive, where we were able to collect goods for the North Side Christian Food Pantry. Check out the thank you letter below…

Story Time with Santa at Van Horn Chevrolet

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Saturday, December 8th, Van Horn Dodge and Van Horn Chevrolet will be hosting our “Story Time with Santa” event! Registration is FREE and open to the public. Please e-mail a Parent/Guardian’s name, the names & ages of the children attending, and the address where we can send your Santa photo to! This will also be the “Grand Finale” of our Project Angel Hugs toy drive. We look forward to seeing you there!”

Van Horn Auto's Holiday Toy Drive

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Van Horn Automotive Participated in the 2012 Plymouth's Holiday Parade

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

This year the Van Horn Automotive Group participated in Plymouth’s Holiday Gatherings parade! The weather was a bit chilly, but the turnout was great. It was awesome to see so many community members gathered along Mill Street in Downtown Plymouth. We walked on behalf of “Santa’s Helpers” and assisted in welcoming Santa to Hub City –

Marketing Students from Lakeland College Provides Insight for Van Horn Chevrolet

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

A group of Lakeland College business students recently assisted Joe Van Horn Chevrolet in Plymouth with some marketing ideas to generate new business.

Students enrolled in Lakeland’s “Business Leadership, Ethics and Decision Making” course worked with Shannon Laehn, Van Horn’s internet sales director, and Bruce Vreeke, the dealer’s new collision center manager, to develop a marketing plan for the body shop.

The class, taught by Brett Killion, assistant professor of accounting, was divided into nine small groups, and each developed and submitted a marketing proposal. Laehn and Vreeke selected their top two proposals, and the final two groups gave an oral presentation to Laehn and Vreeke, who then selected a winner.

“The students really offered us some great insight,” Laehn said. “We have implemented a few ideas that the students came up with and are taking all the ideas into consideration. The group that won really spent a lot of time investigating our current tactics and offered feedback on our current website that led to us making some changes.”

Killion and Laehn got connected at a job fair on Lakeland’s campus that Van Horn attended. The dealership had just started a process of increasing its marketing efforts to generate new business, so the timing was perfect.

Laehn and Vreeke had an initial meeting with the students to detail their current marketing efforts and target markets, and students were invited to visit the dealership and tour the collision center.

“This exercise provided our students with a real-world opportunity to learn more about the processes of an existing business and provide some helpful suggestions,” Killion said. “It was a great way to bring to life several of the concepts we had discussed this semester.”

Other ideas Van Horn is considering using include use of social media to target younger demographics, participating in a campaign about the dangers of texting while driving and hosting different events at the dealership that will create awareness for the collision center.

“Bruce and I were very impressed with how the project turned out and we really enjoyed working with the students,” Laehn said. “We are very thankful that Brett gave us the opportunity to work with his students and we look forward to having a continued partnership with Lakeland.”

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