No organization has consistently supported high school sports, high school activities, and our communities at both the level and for the length of time as Les Schwab Tire Centers. As a result no organization has provided more high school opportunities for kids. And no organization – or group within an organization - deserves to be designated as “Beacon(s) of excellence and leadership through athletics” more than our five local Les Schwab Tire Center dealers.
It was once said “all politics is local”. Les Schwab could have just as easily proclaimed “all business is local” because this was the approach he took and the culture he built. For Les Schwab Tire Centers all business is local. Les Schwab built a statewide, region-wide, and ultimately a national company, all the while understanding that all business ultimately is rooted in the local community, its customers, and customer service. He encouraged his local stores to “build the brand” and create loyalty by becoming so deeply imbedded in their respective communities that, in essence, the company became a member of the community. This value has guided local stores. Our Salem-Keizer Les Schwab Tire Centers are not only no exception, they exude these core values.
Until only recently Les Schwab served as one of two signature sponsors of the Oregon School Activities Association because the OSAA and Les Schwab have a lot in common - both organizations work hard to instill in students and employees - respect, honesty, fairness, and responsibility. This sponsorship allowed ALL the activities of the OSAA to take place. Each state championship for each OSAA-sponsored activity – football to band, basketball to dance, baseball to choir – allowed kids from the largest 6A schools in Portland, Salem, and Eugene to the smallest 1A schools in Imbler, Jewel, and Spray to compete, learn the lessons of sport, and otherwise have experiences that helped prepare them for life. The managers of our Salem-Keizer Les Schwab Tire Centers – Michael Murphy – south Salem; Brian Burnside – Lancaster Drive; Don O'Sullivan – Mission Street; Blake Williams – Keizer; Rob Paulson – West Salem - through their support of our local high school athletics and other local high school programs are models of both Les Schwab and Beacon values.
Rarely do our local Les Schwab dealers say no. Artificial turf fields at our high schools have been “game changers” for sports such as football, soccer, baseball and softball (which can now practice during our very wet spring seasons), and track and field. But those fields have meant just as much to our bands and school physical education programs. Literally thousands of kids benefit each year. Les Schwab has been a primary donor to the installation of these fields. But Les Schwab is also involved in smaller ways that when added up, make a significant difference in the athletics in all of our schools. At almost all of our athletic venues you will see Les Schwab signs, recognizing sponsorships that help fund individual sports. You will see Les Schwab logos on team gear that helped purchase that gear. You will eat popcorn provided by Les Schwab out of bags provided by the local dealers that allows schools to avoid that expense and pump the corresponding revenue back into their programs. (It was the Salem-Keizer Les Schwab stores that were the first to donate popcorn to local high school athletic programs that they in turn could sell in their concession stands. This has now become a common sponsorship for stores company-wide. Salem stores alone have donated over 10,000 pounds of popcorn.) And none of this accounts for the resources they have provided that go sight unseen – no recognition, no banner, no logo – to our athletic teams.
While “The Beacons” are honored for “excellence and leadership through athletics”, one cannot just site what Les Schwab does for kids on our fields, pools, mats, and courses. During the month of April, for example, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month, Les Schwab hosts a diaper drive to benefit families through Family Building Blocks. Annually, Family Building Blocks changes over 25,000 diapers. With the community’s support, Les Schwab dealers were able to donate over 53,000 diapers to this year’s 10th annual drive. The Healing Field was an annual event Les Schwab took part in at Riverfront Park in Salem. This was a memorial that represented the people who perished in 9/11 and also the people who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. Over 50 Les Schwab managers volunteered their time to plant over 4,000 flags. Afterward the flags were sold with proceeds from the flag sales benefitting the military emergency relief fund. These are but two more examples.
Les Schwab has stepped up to help “across the board” in our high schools and communities. As the weather becomes better in the spring it is not uncommon to see high school students conducting car washes at the local Schwab store for various athletic teams and activities. Our local dealers donate to school auctions – athletics and otherwise - and “senior nights” that help keep our kids safe. They support Salem-Keizer's incredible music programs, most especially our marching bands. They have provided clothing sponsorship for summer camps, coaching attire, Future Farmer's of America (they even go so far as to purchase animals at local fairs!), and food drive programs. Their participation seems boundless.
Many businesses proclaim themselves “friends of the community”. Actions speak far more loudly than slogans. In Salem-Keizer, our Les Schwab dealers have literally provided thousands and thousands of students and student-athletes with opportunities that they otherwise might not have had. Their generosity has helped keep our kids safe and provided for those in need. And that's what “friends” do. Our local Les Schwab dealers are friends. Our local Les Schwab dealers are shining lights for other businesses and our community. Our local Les Schwab dealers are Beacons.