Steve Stefanovich was honored Wednesday by the Toyota Motor Corporation for a quarter century of service, a successful benchmark the GO Toyota/Automotive owner said would not have been possible without the dedicated employees who serve as the lifeblood of the Clinton dealership.
Stefanovich got choked up as he addressed a showroom filled with many employees of the business, located on Sunset Avenue.
“All of these guys and gals in this room are the reason for this,” Stefanovich said. “You are all very close to me. You are what keeps this going and I am glad you are here.”
Stefanovich noted that the venture started over 30 years ago. Along the way, Stefanovich teamed up with Chris Fann and the dealership came under the Toyota umbrella in February 1991. Since that time, the Clinton dealership has thrived, earning a string of President’s Awards along the way, the top honor Toyota gives to recognize the success of its dealers.
On Wednesday, top officials with Southeast Toyota Distributors LLC, based in Deerfield Beach, Fla., visited Clinton to present Stefanovich with a plaque and and a glass statuette in recognition of 25 years of service. Andy Eccher, vice president of market representation for Southeast Toyota Distributors, said the feeling of family was evident within the dealership.
“I just want to thank you for 25 years of service, not only selling vehicles but touching each other’s lives in a positive way,” said Eccher, who noted the positive impact that atmosphere has on customers. That starts at the top, with Stefanovich, said Eccher, who also praised Stefanovich’s wife Julie. “This has become a huge family and you can see the passion he has and how much he cares.”
Lunch was served following the short presentation, with the GO owner inviting everyone to break bread and in the process thanking them for what they do.
“You made this all happen,” Stefanovich told them. “I just happen to be here. It’s all of these folks who have kept us here.”
Following the presentation, he also thanked his daughter Annie, who operates GO’s used car dealership in Wilmington and previously served as the Clinton dealer’s internet manager. He can’t help but get emotional when talking about two things — his family and his employees, who are in essence his extended family. They mean that much.
“If I’m talking about my family or these people here,” said Stefanovich, “that will always happen.”
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