DEARBORN, Mich., March 29, 2010 – For a growing number of “mom and pop” businesses across the country, the Ford Transit Connect is proving to be the perfect addition to the family. Since its U.S. introduction late last summer, small businesses have added more than 13,000 units to their daily operations.
Now today, as small business owners recognize “National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day,” Ford is taking its popular fuel-efficient commercial van directly to many of their front doors.
Running through mid-May, the 2010 Ford Transit Connect Tour is offering individual test drives to business owners in 18 cities. The compact commercial van is also stopping at local Chambers of Commerce meetings and industry trade shows. Business owners can request a front-door test drive at www.fordvehicles.com/transitconnect.
“On this National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, Ford recognizes the many small businesses for their family history of hard work and passion,” said Len Deluca, director, Commercial Vehicles Marketing. “To make things a little more convenient for them, we’re bringing the Transit Connect to their locations. It helps them see immediately how the vehicle can help them run their daily business more efficiently.”
The national holiday was founded by Rick Segel, author of “Retail Business Kit for Dummies” and other business books, in honor of his mother and father who opened Ruth’s Hat Shop on this day in 1939 in Massachusetts. When Segel sold the business in 1997, it was valued at more than $2.5 million. That year Chase’s Calendar of Events observed the first “National Mom and Pop Business Day.”
“It was a labor of love,” said Segel of his parents’ business. “I see myself now as a merchant of hope. I want people to know that there are a lot of opportunities out there.”
According to Joseph Astrachan, executive director of the Cox Family Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State University, there are an estimated 3.6 million “mom and pop” business owners in the United States, and that number is increasing steadily.
“Family businesses – especially ‘mom and pops’ – are what drive our country as they truly are the first link in our great economic chain,” said Astrachan.
Ford understands the needs of the small business. When it brought the Transit Connect, on sale in Europe since 2003, to the U.S. late last year, there was no other vehicle like it to serve this customer.
Until then, florists, caterers, carpenters and others had to make do with larger vehicles they didn’t need or have their family car do double duty – neither very efficient.
Mom and pop business owners like Toni Mannino have found the Transit Connect to be a good fit for their daily operations. Mannino, owner of Original Romano’s Pizza & Catering in Orchard Lake, Mich., says Transit Connect, with its fuel-efficient 2.0-liter engine (22/25 mpg), ample cargo space and generous payload capacity, is helping her keep a watchful eye on spending in the aftermath of the recession.
“For the past 39 years, we have been using full-size cargo vans, but orders are smaller now, and we really don’t need such a big vehicle,” said Mannino. “Transit Connect is just the right size. We use it for catering during the day and pizza deliveries in the evening, so it tools around town all day long.”
And while it’s tooling around town, Mannino says the Transit Connect is generating a great deal of exposure for the business.
“The truck itself stands out, and we dressed it up with our logo,” she said. “It’s been very successful in helping people realize that we’re still in business after 50 years.”
Ron Anderson, owner of Liberty Home Appliance – a family-owned business in Lomita, Calif. that sells and services appliances – says his new Transit Connect also helps raise awareness for his company.
“It gets a lot of attention on the streets, which is very good for business,” he said.
Anderson says he appreciates the Transit Connect’s fuel efficiency, and his employees like its compact size and the vehicle’s car-like ride and handling.
“Most of our service calls are up in the hills in Palos Verdes, and there are a lot of steep driveways that make it hard for a larger van to maneuver,” he explained. “It’s much easier for our drivers to get the Transit Connect up into those areas.”
Awards and accolades for the 2010 Ford Transit Connect include:
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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 198,000 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.