DEARBORN, Mich., Sept. 15, 2009 – On any given day, Jen Kiblinger has up to 60 dogs in her life, with many being shuttled between training classes, foster homes and rescue shelters.
And that's where her new 2010 Ford Transit Connect will serve her well. As president of Circle Tail Inc., a nonprofit organization in Pleasant Plain, Ohio, Kiblinger trains assistance dogs for people with mobility, hearing, neurological and psychiatric disabilities.
"My dogs can be on the road for up to two hours, and I need them to be safe, secure and comfortable," Kiblinger said. "My new Transit Connect will be great for transporting them in style."
On Friday, Sept. 18, Kiblinger will receive the keys to the fuel-efficient Ford Transit Connect panel van at the Second Annual Golf Classic in Pleasant Plain, a fund-raising event to support Circle Tail's new 7,200-square-foot dog training facility and renovate its kennels.
Ford's Transit Connect went on sale in the United States in July and is enjoying brisk demand. The first full month of sales topped 2,000 units and vehicles are selling in fewer than 10 days of arrival on dealer lots, significantly quicker than industry norms. For more information on the Transit Connect, see http://media.ford.com/press_kits.cfm?presskit_id=2027.
"The Transit Connect is ideal for small business owners who – until now – have not had a vehicle designed just for them," said Damoni Hurt, marketing manager, Ford Transit Connect. "Now, entrepreneurs like Jen Kiblinger have a vehicle that will help them be more efficient in their day-to-day operations."
Kiblinger also is excited about the visibility Transit Connect will bring to Circle Tail. Her organization's logo and contact information is stamped on the exterior of the van.
"The vehicle is very eye-catching," said Kiblinger. "It will help us get our name out in the community. And that's a huge thing."
With a cargo capacity of 135 cubic feet, compact maneuverability, and fuel efficiency of 22 mpg city and 25 highway, Transit Connect is the perfect vehicle for a small business on the go.
"We have up to 60 dogs in training at any one time and it seems like we're always unloading and loading the dogs, along with all the supplies that go with them – collars, leashes, toys, dog food and all that," said Kiblinger.
Circle Tail Inc., founded in 1997 by Marlys Staley, also handles dog adoptions and provides obedience training and boarding. It's one of those rare entities that benefits both people and animals, said Kiblinger.
"There's never been a time when I didn't love animals," she said. "And Circle Tail offers the best of both worlds – helping animals while helping people, too. We provide assistance dogs at no cost to the individual, and we offer services to strengthen the human/canine bond, so dogs are more likely to stay with families instead of being given up."
The organization works with area prisons on dog training. Inmates, schooled by Circle Tail in dog training, learn accountability and responsibility, and the dogs thrive on the extra attention. "Some of the stories you hear from the prisons are amazing," said Kiblinger. "This really helps normalize the inmates' lives. And they're great with the dogs."
All those trips back and forth in the group's old minivan took their toll. The Ford Transit Connect, said Kiblinger, is the perfect solution – from its size to its maneuverability.
"This is wonderful," she said. "We couldn't believe that we'd actually won!"
Circle Tail's Kiblinger is one of five small business owners from around the United States to win a customized Transit Connect in Ford's "Connect with Connect" contest. The versatile new van was introduced in February 2009 at the Chicago Auto Show.
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 201,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com.