PRESIDENT'S AWARD RICART WINS COVETED AWARD Story by the Columbus Cars staff
Champagne corks weren't flying nor bubbly being poured over employees' heads, but there definitely was some celebrating taking place at the Ricart Ford showroom at the Ricart Mega Mall on Thursday.
"It's like winning the NFL Super Bowl trophy for dealerships," Rhett Ricart said just after he and his brother Fred had accepted Ford Motor Co.'s prestigious President's Award.
Making the presentation was Ford Regional Manager Michael O'Brien. The President's Award is only given to the top 1 percent of Ford dealerships for excellence in customer satisfaction in new-car sales and warranty service.
"To be such a high-volume dealership and keep those customers happy is something special," O'Brien told the employees and well wishers gathered.
He also presented the brothers with an award they've won before: the One Hundred Club award, which recognizes top dealerships' sales activity. Ricart Ford ranks No. 44 in new-vehicle sales activity, O'Brien noted, out of some 3,800 Ford dealerships nationally.
O'Brien said the Ricart dealership is enthusiastic, passionate about its products and loyal to the brand. "We're really proud of the job they've done and the representation they provide (Ford)," he said.
"It's a lot easier to sell the cars than to make everyone happy," Fred said following the presentation. Fred also marked the occasion by singing a song while playing his trademark guitar.
Although always ranking high in customer satisfaction, Fred gave credit to the dealership's new user-friendly Internet site and the skills of its service employees for pushing them over the top.
"We've always been chasing the President's Award," said Rhett, who said it was a dream of their father, Paul Ricart Sr., to win this particular award. "He'd be crying," Rhett said of his late father if he were still here.
Ricart Ford has won a lot of awards from Ford during the years, including the Salute to Dealers Award three years ago. The Ford Foundation awards the Salute to Dealers annually to 12 dealers recognizing their community service work.
No doubt one of the reasons why Ricart Ford won that honor was because of something that happened later that day. In front of the student body of Groveport Madison High School, nine teachers were given the chance to win the free use of a new Ford Focus for a year.
During the school year, the student body votes on a teacher of the month, placing the teacher in the running for the Teacher of the Year honors. At a school rally on Thursday, all of the nominated teachers were given gift baskets and drew one of nine random keys - one of which unlocked the door to a new Ricart car.
With the state of the economy, school officials weren't sure if the tradition of the free car for the year would continue. But Fred and Rhett both said they never considered not doing it. After all, it's a five-year tradition, Fred noted, and the students get so excited.
This year, Tim Brown, a physical-education teacher and football coach, drew the lucky key for this year, winning use of the brand-new Ford Focus decked out with Groveport Madison High School and Ricart stickers.