A legacy of generosity The Dahl family pays it forward
by: Patrick Marek Dec 28, 2016
One of the best definitions of true philanthropy is "planting a tree that you are never going to get to sit under." If that is the case, then the first seeds to the Dahl family's philanthropic forest were sown in Westby, Wis., back in the late 1800s, when the city's popular gathering place, the A.H. Dahl & Co. General Store, became a Ford Motor Company agent. When the Model Ts lined up in front of the store began to be purchased by scores of happy customers and were flying down the streets of Western Wisconsin, it sparked a philosophy of giving back to the community that has flourished through five generations of Dahl family automotive ownership.
"It all started with the family's general store business," said Dahl Automotive President Andrew Dahl. "Every community had a general store. That's where you would get your dry goods, tobacco, clothing and groceries. It was a place to do your shopping, but it was a lot more than that. It was also a center of community … a place where people gathered. When my forefathers began selling Model Ts out of the general store, the bond with the community became even stronger.
"We began to realize that we were an integral part of the community," Dahl continued. "When you think about it, everybody needs a car, and everybody needs to service their car. The auto dealer is an important part of automotive ownership, and the experience you have at the dealership really sets the tone for your enjoyment of owning the vehicle. Our philosophy of doing business has always been to develop our teams and facilities so that guests can have a relaxing and positive experience whether they are purchasing a vehicle, or having their vehicle serviced. We also have perpetuated a core value that started way back in the general store days. We feel that because people are trusting us with such an important purchase, and its upkeep, we have a responsibility to give back to the community.
"My brothers and I are fifth-generation, and giving back is the core value, above all else, that has been passed from generation to generation. That's just the way it is. We're Dahls. We're in the car business. Our communities have blessed us, our families, and the team members who have alongside us. We feel we have a responsibility to give back the community … but it's not just a responsibility. We take a joy in being able to pick some amazing charitable organizations, identify areas of specific needs in each community, and then try to help meet those needs with the resources we have been blessed with."
It's easy to measure the positive financial impact that the over $26 million Dahl Auto Plaza and its over 100 team members have on Winona's economy and tax rolls. However, for Winona's arts and nonprofit community, the Dahl family's contributions of time, talent and treasure have created a positive ripple effect that has helped establish Winona as a regional arts destination and a better place to live.
Family and Children's Center
"The Dahl's impact on the Family and Children's Center goes two ways," said
Board President Laura Eddy. "They give very generously, but they have also served on our board, and been very active in our organization. The Dahl's philosophy is humility-based service. They give their time, and they give their financial support. Not only are they givers, but they also encourage their employees to get involved and give. Their annual Lube-a-Thon is a whole day where they give free oil changes, with a free-will offering being donated to the Family and Children's Center. Their entire team is there all day donating their time, and that's over 100 employees.
"The Dahls contribute to Shakespeare, Winona State, District 861, Southeast Tech … the list goes on and on," continued Eddy. "They are very approachable. They are generous. They are very kind, and they are always open to listening. They even have a board room on their new campus that the community can use to have meetings. La Crosse has been fortunate to have the Dahls all these years, and now Winona is able to feel the positive impact of the Dahl's generosity."
Winona Family YMCA
"Early in my tenure here, I had the chance to connect with Andrew Dahl to find out what he knew about the community, and about the YMCA. I asked him what he could share as a new leader coming into Winona," said Derek Madsen, executive director of the Winona Family YMCA. "He had some suggestions that really helped me come on board, but he also had some discussions with me about creating a leadership team and how to develop staff and relationships. He shared the Dahl model of how they accomplish that. When we began our capital campaign we met with the La Crosse YMCA campaign leadership, and had the opportunity to meet with Harry Dahl. Harry helped counsel our campaign leadership to ask questions like: 'How do we do this? What will it look like? What are things we need to know? How do we build relationships? How do we ask for contributions?' Harry gave us fantastic advice. It was a perfect first step for our campaign.
"When it comes to giving, the Dahl family walks the walk and talks the talk," Madsen continued. "They have been great philanthropic supporters of the YMCA. Early in the silent phase of our campaign they gave us an extremely generous challenge grant that really jump started our campaign. It was an astounding contribution, and really helped get our campaign leadership revved up. The Dahl family contributes to the things that are important in our community, and their testament to volunteer leadership is important too. It isn't just that they give money. They also reach back to the generations of success that they have had, and help share those lessons to help us be successful leaders."
Great River Shakespeare Festival
"The Dahl family has been engaged with the Great River Shakespeare Festival for many years. They were one of the first members of our leadership circle, and they really helped set the stage, paving the way for other businesses to follow suit," said GRSF Development Director Kelly Olson. "They have been very supportive of Winona arts in general, and have really played a large part in making Winona a true arts destination."
"They are amazing," said GRSF Artistic Director Doug Scholz-Carlson. "Not only are they financially generous with the festival, but they keep on looking for ways to help us make connections in the community. They are very engaged as donors. A lot of patrons will contribute to an organization, but then they don't really get engaged with it. I see the Dahls in the theater all the time, bringing their friends and family. They are authentically engaged in GSRF in a pretty remarkable way. They are generous, just for the sake of being generous, but they also recognize that an organization like GRSF can be good for the community, and good for local businesses."
Winona State University
"The Dahl family has had a very positive impact on our football program," said WSU Athletic Director Eric Shoh. "When we first met with Andrew Dahl and told him about our corporate sponsor program, it didn't take him very much thought at all. They got involved right away. Currently they provide us with two vehicles that our coaches can drive all over the country on their recruiting trips. Not only is that a huge financial benefit for our program, but it's also a great marketing tool for us, because the vehicles are wrapped with our colors and the WSU logo. There's a lot of other ways that the Dahls contribute to our program. If we ever need anything they are just a phone call away. They are in it for the right reason. They want to help support our student athletes. They are tremendous supporters of WSU."
Mid West Music Fest
"I met with Andrew Dahl for the first time about a year ago, and since then he has become a mentor for me," said Parker Forsell, managing director of Mid West Music Fest. "He has taken me out to lunch and we have talked about running a business, and the festival. When we decided to expand to La Crosse last year, he was very energized and helpful. Andrew is a member of the Development Committee for the La Crosse portion of the festival. He knows the whole picture of where the festival is at, and has been very complimentary and generous."
The Dahl team
A key factor in the Dahl family's core value of giving back to the community is to help inspire generosity in their team. Because of events like the annual "Lube-a Thon," members of the entire Dahl organization are able to work together to help benefit a deserving nonprofit organization. It builds teamwork, and helps make the Winona community a better place to live.
"I think that in the big picture, the community looks at Dahl Automotive as being an important charitable contributor, and one of the many ways that they help give back to the community is by doing events like our annual Lube-a-Thon," said Dahl Chevrolet Master Service Technician Nick Kamrowski. "They are raising funds for Family and Children's Center that are very needed and much appreciated. I think it's a great way to help out the community, and we as team members are happy to contribute our time to the event. I think that the Lube-a-Thon is great for the team. We get to work together and help each other out. We're also able to give back to the community and have fun at the same time."
"The Dahl core value of giving back will continue into the future," maintained Andrew Dahl. "We've got the sixth generation coming up. They're pretty young yet, and who knows if they are going to want to be in the car business. However, if that's where their passion leads them, then giving back to the community will be one of the core values that will be passed on to them."
Dahl raises $14,500 for Family & Children's Center
Dahl Automotive will present the Family & Children's Center with a check for $14,500.
Dahl raised the money with its annual Lube-A-Thon fundraiser Sept. 24. The money will support the Family & Children's Center's child abuse prevention programs Healthy Families, Hope Academy and Stepping Stones in La Crosse, and Matty's Place in Winona.
The check presentation will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Dahl Subaru dealership at 712 S. Fourth St.
In the past eight years, Dahl Automotive has raised more than $90,000 for local nonprofits through its Lube-A-Thons.
Dahl Breaking Ground on new Subaru dealership downtown
Dahl Subaru plans a groundbreaking celebration at 4 p.m. today for its new Subaru facility at 811 S. Third St., just south of its current location.
The new 23,000-square-foot facility is slated for completion in early fall 2017 and features a modern urban design that complements the walk-able nature of the expanding historic downtown La Crosse.
The new building will include a children's play room with an iPad bar and coloring center, and there will be complimentary beverages, popcorn and WiFi in a large guest lounge.
The new Subaru dealership will offer a fenced-in dog park with artificial grass, open for public use and a bicycle repair center for downtown commuters.
Tyler Dahl, FCC moms compare notes in advance of $24,000 donation
Tyler Dahl and three young women exchanged parenting anecdotes and discussed the importance of community service during a brief meeting Wednesday at the Family and Children's Center in La Crosse.
The parental dialogues were in advance of Dahl Subaru's presentation of a check for $24,000 to the FCC today for the agency's Healthy Families, Stepping Stones and Hope Academy programs, which are designed to launch families on healthy paths and prevent child abuse.
"We're so appreciative" of the FCC, said Dahl, general manager of Dahl Subaru and a former member and president of the FCC board. "We're so glad to have Hope Academy."
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Winona Chamber honors businesses Tuesday for leadership, community investment
The 2016 Business of the Year Award: Dahl Automotive
The Winona Area Chamber of Commerce held its 16th annual Business Celebration Awards on Tuesday, May 17, where 250 business and community leaders gathered at the Riverport Inn to celebrate the award winners.
Jim Johnson, the retired long-time president of Southeast Tech, provided a keynote address on leadership.
Dahl Automotive is grateful to the Winona community for receiving the Chamber of Commerce's Business of the Year Award yesterday. The award was given based on a number of factors including: Economic Development, Workforce Development, Business Achievement, Environmental Awareness and Community Engagement. We are humbled to receive this award and grateful for our entire Winona team who made it possible!
Dahl Chevy receives prestigious Green Dealer award
General Motors Zone Manager Kerstan Ryan presents the Green Dealer Program recognition
to Dahl Automotive President Andrew Dahl (left).
Over 200 people team attended Dahl Chevrolet's open house during the Winona Chamber of
Commerce's monthly "After Five" event. Those in attendance said they were dazzled by the
new facility's guest-friendly amenities, impressive architecture, and state-of-the-art equipment. However, when General Motors Zone Manager Kersten Ryan took the podium, he quickly made it clear that Dahl Chevrolet is much more than just another pretty face.
Ryan presented Dahl Chevrolet with "Green Dealer Program" recognition for 2015. It honors
Dahl Chevy meeting the requirements of green initiatives in a broad range of areas including
energy use reduction, waste to landfill reduction, workplace environment, management
practices, renewable energy, nature habitat, community outreach, recycle reuse re-purpose
efforts, water conservation, and HVAC.
For Dahl Chevrolet General Manager Travis Tilton, the award was an unexpected surprise after a fantastic evening of showing off the new facility to community leaders.
"I was absolutely delighted by how many people attended the event," said Tilton. "They really
enjoyed the tours and the atmosphere of the facility. I heard tons of positive feedback about
how clean it was and how easy and comfortable it felt."
"Getting the Green Dealer recognition was an incredibly pleasant surprise, "Tilton continued.
"We've done a lot to be eco-friendly in the construction, and to have your Chevy Zone Manager present you with an award for being a Green Dealer is a great honor. Only five percent of the dealerships in the country even qualify to attempt to get this award, and we successfully earned it. I think it shows how much we care about the Winona community, and how we want to make a positive impact to help and support them in everything we do. Part of that is making sure that our footprint is small with the environment."
Winona Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Della Schmitt was impressed by the new
facility, and the Dahl family's dedication to community service.
"It was great to see so many people from the community to come out to support the Dahl family and recognize the investment they are making in the community," Schmitt said. "They are exceptional community partners and are doing a great job with this campus. It really is exciting to see companies make an investment with an eye toward environment and efficiency. They are very deserving of the Green Dealer distinction, and we all celebrate with them."
For those who missed the open house, there's still time to visit Dahl Chevrolet and experience its Grand Opening Celebration.
"Our Grand Opening Celebration continues until the end of September," Travis Tilton said. "I
want to invite everyone to come out and experience our new facility. We'll be glad to give you a tour, provide free refreshments and have you meet our team."
Dahl Subaru donates $7,000 to Family & Children's Center to prevent child abuse
LA CROSSE, Wis. - More local children will be able to benefit from child abuse prevention services in coming months due to a $7,000 donation from Dahl Subaru and Subaru of America as part of its "Share the Love" event.
Dahl made the donation to Family & Children's Center's Healthy Families, Stepping Stones and Hope Academy programs designed to get families started on a healthy path from the beginning and to intervene when abuse has occurred.
Customers who purchased or leased a new Subaru vehicle during the holidays could select from a list of charities to receive a donation of $250 from SOA. The company this year will donate $15 million to participating charities.
SOA, now in its seventh year, selected four national charities: ASPCA®, Make-A-Wish®, Meals On Wheels Association of America® and National Park Foundation. Dahl Subaru could also elect to add a local charity and added Family & Children's Center as its "hometown charity."
"Share the Love is about making a difference in our community and we can't think of a better place to start than with children and creating healthy families for them," said Tyler Dahl, General Manager of Dahl Subaru. "Our employees and customers have a philanthropic spirit, and Share the Love gives all of us a chance to do something great for our community."
-Award Recognizes Dealer Excellence in Customer Service-
Cherry Hill, N.J.?(5/23/2013) Subaru of America, Inc. today announced that Dahl Subaru of La Crosse, Wisconsin joins an elite group set to receive the prestigious 2013 Subaru Stellar Care Award
"The Subaru Stellar Care Award is earned by top ranking Subaru dealers who deliver an exceptional ownership experience to our customers," said Bill Cyphers, senior vice president, sales for Subaru of America. "Award recipients meet the high Stellar Care benchmarks for customer satisfaction, brand representation, and operational excellence. Our brand has enjoyed record sales for the past four years and this success is in large part due to the excellence of our retail body."
Achieving this highly coveted award requires truly exceptional dedication and Subaru dealers must devote significant time and resources to the customer experience throughout the year. Performance measures for the program range from participation in all customer-focused Subaru programs to maintaining a customer-friendly, inviting facility. Dealers must also achieve outstanding satisfaction scores for all key areas in Sales and Service and demonstrate outstanding performance in Customer Loyalty.
Dahl Subaru is located at 712 4th street south, La Crosse, WI. For more information, the dealership can be contacted at 608-784-9600 or at www.dahlsubaru.com.
DAHL AUTOMOTIVE ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF WALZ DEALERSHIP
Dahl Automotive today announced the acquisition of Walz Chevrolet Buick GMC in Winona. The new dealership will be called Dahl Chevrolet/Buick/GMC and will continue to operate in the same location with 99% of the existing Walz employees. This will be the second location for Dahl Automotive in Winona, after acquiring a Toyota dealership in 2010. "Growth is good," commented Andrew Dahl, one of the 4 owners of the new dealership that includes his father Harry Dahl and brothers Jansen and Tyler. "We've enjoyed being a part of this community and plan on taking an aggressive posture to secure Winona as the focal point in this region for our new lineup of brands."
Andrew pointed out that back in the 1930's the Dahl name was the biggest name in Chevrolet dealerships in America, with locations throughout the country. "We're back with Chevy again, and looking forward to the next generation," he added. "We want everyone to experience what Dahl Automotive is all about?choices? fair treatment?you know what to expect when you come in to see us."
At this morning's press conference Jack "Butch" Walz explained that choosing the Dahl family was an easy decision. "We've been serving this community for many great years, and I'm comfortable with the idea that Winona will be well served with the Dahl family," says Mr. Walz.
Dahl is one of the oldest Ford dealers in America, and has been in business over 100 years. They currently own dealerships that include Dahl Toyota in Winona, Dahl Hyundai?Subaru?Mazda in La Crosse, and Dahl Ford?Lincoln in Onalaska.
Contact info: Andrew Dahl 507-452-4080