In March of this year, the country was reeling the impact of a shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Dealers across the country were struggling to keep their showrooms open and their employees on the payroll. While dealership service departments were deemed essential businesses, some dealers struggled to maintain the levels of service appointments required to maintain their entire staffs.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) allowed dealerships to secure forgiveable loans to retain their workforce – a lifeline for dealership employees nationwide. However, before the CARES Act was signed into law, one North Carolina dealer found a creative way to retain his employees; John Hiester of the Heister Automotive Group in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. created a competition pinning teams of service employees against each other to restore classic vehicles.
Hiester, currently serving as chairman of the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association (NCADA), purchased 19 classic cars – including a 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1974 Dodge Dart and 1975 Chevrolet Camaro – for teams to restore when traditional service demand was lower than usual. Once customer repairs are complete for the day, competitors get the chance to work on their team’s respective vehicle – while still on the clock.
To offer service employees resources to repair these classic vehicles and raise the competition’s profile, Hiester Automotive partnered with Ally Financial and Danny Koker, owner of Las Vegas custom hot rod shop Count's Kustom, on 14 episodes of Count's Kulture!. The YouTube series offered competitors the opportunity to seek repair advice and get their questions answered by Count’s Kustom’s team of seasoned classic car restorers.
The competition winner will be determined by a fan vote of online viewers. All vehicles will be auctioned at the Greensboro Classic Car Auction on Saturday, Feb. 27; proceeds for the sale of the winning vehicle will be donated to charity, which will be chosen alongside the winning team’s members.