By the time I was 15-years-old, I had called eight different cities (a total of two countries and five states, but who’s keeping track?) home. As I started each new school (three elementary, two middle, and two high schools—but again, who’s keeping track?) and teachers and fellow students learned my moving history, I was always asked, “Are you a military kid?”
My response always took them by surprise. “Nope, I’m a Ford kid.”
Well, a Ford Motor Credit Company kid, to be exact. My dad started with the company in 1983 and still works for Ford today. It’s through him that my affinity for the franchise took root when I was young, first learning to identify and associate the blue oval logo with him. I visited him in the offices he worked in and over time asked questions about what he did and how it all connected to the Ford dealers, both locally and nationally.
When I started driving, my nickname jokingly went from “Ford kid” to “Ford princess” among friends since I was lucky enough to call quite a few cars “mine.” I showed off the features the different cars had and offered “test drives” to anyone interested. (Not surprisingly, the Mustangs received the most interest in this opportunity.) If anyone had a question about purchasing or leasing a car, I would pass them onto my dad, who in turn directed them to the best dealer based on what they needed.
As time went on, Ford started to create more than just business opportunities for my family because of the places we lived and the people we met. When we lived near others with a Ford connection, kids quickly became as close as siblings, and adults became surrogate parents. Our extended Ford family got together for nightly dinners over summers, celebrated holidays and personal milestones together, and provided an extra support system during tough times. This relationship continued even when moves took us other places. Thanks to cell phones and social media, we all continue to stay in contact on a near-daily basis. I can say that Ford turned into more than just the company my dad works for and into a force that helped shaped who I am today.
My extended Ford family encompasses Ford dealerships and their employees, such as the General Sales Manager at Walker Ford in Clearwater, Fla. Already a friend of the family, he heard about an accident that totaled my car and knew that I wouldn’t want to deal with a full-on search for a new car. He worked with me to find out what car model I was interested in, the color, and other details. Less than five days later, I was on my way to the dealership to pick up the car he found for me and fill out the paperwork. At my wedding in July 2016, I told him that it’s still the perfect car.
20 Group Families
Given my background, I suppose it’s no big surprise that I wound up working for the automotive industry, in a round-about way. During my time with NCM, I learned that 20 Groups have the same family mentality that I have with Ford.
20 Group members don’t just meet three times per year to discuss best practices and leave it at that; they are there for each other every day. Members offer advice based on their own experiences with DMS changes and training processes, support and coach one another during tough times in the market, and celebrate each other’s successes. They also send out words of encouragement and prayers during personal times, such as when Hurricane Matthew evacuations caused dealerships along the East Coast to close down for the storm.
The reason that I felt so at home at NCM was, just like with my Ford family, the NCM family of employees, 20 Group members, and moderators are all there to help each other succeed.
Learn more about 20 Groups on our website and find a 20 Group family of your own!