What makes a city a community? It’s more than people sharing the same space. It’s neighbors, local government and businesses all working together toward a common goal through years, and sometimes even decades, of hard work, friendship and trust.
The City of Sumner is no stranger to this notion. The tight-knit town has always had a strong sense of community thanks to the likes of its residents, local government and the businesses that have always kept the greater good front and center. For nearly 100 years, one local business that has stood out as a leader in putting community first is Sunset Chevrolet.
In the early 1900s, Sunset Chevrolet opened as a gas station, selling one or two Chevys per month. As the years rolled on and other gas station dealerships began to peter out, Sunset Chevrolet was just getting started. Using the gas station model to get its start, Sunset Chevrolet’s approach to customer service and its commitment to the community set it apart from its competitors, and by the 1940s, this small-town dealership began to grow. Today, Sunset Chevrolet is a statewide leader in new and used Chevy car sales and holds second place in the country for customer retention.
How does Sunset Chevrolet do this? Loyalty – to its customers and to its community. Recognized by Sumner and its neighboring cities as an outstanding member of the community, Sunset Chevrolet is a local leader when it comes to putting community first.
From community events to parades and beyond, Sunset Chevrolet always finds a way to involve itself in what’s going on in the community. Carmen Palmer, Communications Director for the City of Sumner, says, “I don’t think there’s a parade or event that doesn’t have Sunset Chevrolet participating in some way.” Most recently, Palmer says Sunset Chevrolet has been integral in planning the city’s upcoming Open in Sumner event, Sumner’s ode to this year’s 2015 US Open Championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course.
City of Sumner Mayor, Dave Enslow, agrees. “Sometimes people ask how businesses can still be successful in a small city,” says Mayor Enslow. “I believe that when businesses and the city and the community work together, it’s still the most successful model that benefits everyone.”
However, Sunset Chevrolet’s involvement in these kind of major community events isn’t just recognized by the city and other businesses, it’s recognized by the entire community. Several years ago Sumner High School’s stadium was in need of new turf. When the school didn’t have sufficient funds for the project, Sunset Chevrolet offered to pick up the bill. As a thank you, Sumner High School renamed its stadium, “Sunset Stadium.” Palmer says this a prime example of the kind of impact Sunset Chevrolet has on the community at large. The stadium, which plays host to local games for Sumner and Bonney Lake, is also a community hub for state playoffs and even Sounders U-23 games, as well as other major events like Sumner’s Relay for Life, which Sunset Chevrolet also plays a major role in supporting.
But, writing checks and sponsoring events isn’t all Sunset Chevrolet does. Sunset Chevrolet takes its support one step further. “In working on Open in Sumner, [Sunset Chevrolet] didn’t just write a check,” explains Palmer. “They met with the City and [the event’s] co-sponsor, Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse, routinely to help plan.” Palmer says at each meeting, Sunset Chevrolet representatives would ask, “What else can we do for you?” Palmer says this isn’t a question corporate sponsors typically ask. “We know we are blessed to have that kind of time, commitment and support,” Palmer says.
Sunset Chevrolet’s approach to taking care of the community isn’t new; it’s a value that’s been passed down for generations, from one Sunset Chevrolet owner to the next. “There are people in town who wouldn’t dream of buying a car anywhere else,” explains Palmer. “That kind of loyalty exists because for over 80 years, people like Oz Rogers, Ray Sparling and Jerry Yoder didn’t just do business here, they made themselves an integral part of Sumner.”
Phil Mitchell, seventh and current owner of Sunset Chevrolet, says the only way for a dealership like Sunset Chevrolet to be successful is to really be a part of the community. And, not just in Sumner, but in the surrounding area as well. “We realize that it is the community who is responsible for our success, and, in return, I think it is very important to give back to this community,” says Mitchell. While Sunset Chevrolet has evolved into the 21st century, the dealership still adheres to the same values it was founded on. As for the future? “We will just keep doing what has been a Sunset tradition for almost 100 years now,” says Mitchell. “This is not just a business philosophy, this is where we live. We too are part of this community on a personal level. This is our home!”
Sunset Chevrolet is a state and national leader in Chevy sales and customer retention, but the leadership this small-town dealership brings to its community isn’t measured in sales, it’s measured in smiles.
To learn more about events that Sunset Chevrolet has sponsored over the years, or to find out if Sunset Chevrolet can help sponsor your own event, check out Sunset Chevrolet’s Community Page, or give Sunset Chevrolet a call at 253-299-2561.