CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio – Over the last few years, Cascade Auto Group has had to navigate rough waters that affected everyone in the automotive industry. Problems included supply chain disruptions, a shortage of vehicles, rising interest rates, and difficulty recruiting service technicians.
Each problem required strategy development, implementation, assessment and modification to produce better results. One effort remained constant: the commitment to “cause marketing” that was begun and nurtured by company founder Donald Primm.
Cause marketing is a branding strategy by which a business collaborates with a nonprofit organization for mutual benefit. The collaboration often has a financial sponsorship aspect as well as volunteer opportunities.
“My father committed to help organizations that worked to improve people’s lives in the community,” says Cascade managing partner Michelle Primm. “It has been part of our corporate identity for 55 years.”
Cascade Auto Group is home to three dealerships: Audi Cuyahoga Falls, Cascade Mazda and Cascade Subaru.
Cascade Subaru’s corporate sponsorship of the Conservancy for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park goes back more than a decade. During that time, Cascade has donated and directed $475,000 to the Conservancy.
Cascade actively promotes the conservancy’s fundraisers throughout the year and publishes a story in every monthly newsletter about the conservancy and its programs.
“It’s a mistake to think about cause marketing in terms of transactions,” says Pat Primm, owner and internet marketing manager. “Cause marketing has value to the extent that it touches lives. We support the conservancy because they have excellent educational programs and opportunities for children, many of whom have never even been to the national park.”
A more recent collaboration came during the pandemic. The American Red Cross found that blood drives scheduled in high schools were facing cancellation because of school closings. Cascade Audi offered its new car delivery room and promoted the blood drive extensively on social media and in the company’s newsletter. The company has continued the practice.
“We encourage our staffers to donate blood, and our managers often set the example by signing up well in advance of the drive,” says human resources administrator Rachael Kern.
Other partnerships involve the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Humane Society of Summit County, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition and sponsorship of the Akron Open Tennis Tournament at Towpath Tennis. And, of course, each summer brings a handful of golf outings, pet adoption events and more.
“Each nonprofit benefits from our involvement with their organization,” says Michelle Primm. “We, in turn, get to deepen the relationship with our customers and the community we call home. The strength of that bond between us and the community is what keeps us going, no matter what market conditions we face.”