As a young man, David J. Long Jr. always thought he would serve with the Peace Corps or become a teacher. But with the promise of a good job with Ford Motor Company during college Long refocused his vision into growing a successful business while helping to improve the lives of others in his Princeton area community.
Health care, safety and children are at the forefront of the causes and organizations to which Long and his family devote their time, energy and money. Long, who owns three Volvo dealerships in and around Princeton, is a rallying force in the community, serving on boards and donating time, cars and money to various programs and projects.
"We're not in it for the glory,” Long said. “But what we do, what we give - it makes a difference.”
For his outstanding corporate citizenship, Ford Motor Company has named Long among the nine recipients of its sixth annual Salute To Dealers award.
When Long learned there was no money to train local Trenton students in first aid, he was moved into action. He worked with the Central New Jersey chapter of the American Red Cross to develop “Safe School Initiative,” a program that brings life-saving training, such as the proper use of a defibrillator, CPR and first aid, to inner-city youths through their schools.
"I believed a program of this nature critical as many of these students were caregivers to siblings and, for some, their own children,” Long said. “I also believed that in learning and practicing life-saving skills, these young people would develop a higher regard for the value of human life.”
To make the program a success, Long secured funding from the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers and brought in Trenton native and All-Pro cornerback Troy Vincent and his “Love Thy Neighbor” organization to introduce the program to Trenton schools in 2004.
This initiative has taught the skills necessary to respond to emergencies to more than 7,000 young people in Trenton and another 7,000 in New Brunswick starting in January 2006.
"One youth wrote that she used her skills to save a choking child; another saved a man who collapsed at a nursing home,” Long said. “For others it provided an opportunity to learn a marketable job skill, and for still others, it provided a sense of knowing what it means to care for others.”
Plans are under way to work with three additional New Jersey inner city schools while Long hopes to take the program statewide.
"Thanks to his enthusiasm and on-going devotion, the initiative will continue to touch more and more lives each year,” said Kevin Sullivan, CEO of the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey. “David's innovative thinking and strong desire to make a difference in his community have proven that together we can improve and save lives.”
Supporting a wide variety of Red Cross programs and services is a family affair for Long, his wife, Lynne, and their children. Each year, Long donates a special red Volvo for a Red Cross raffle. In 2005, the Long family was honored with the first Bob Clancy Culture of Caring award for its extraordinary service through the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey.
Long and his family have supported the University Medical Center at Princeton and Princeton HealthCare System Foundation since they moved their family and established their business in Princeton more than 30 years ago, chairing fund-raisers and donating vehicles for raffles. Long, a medical center trustee and chairman of the foundation, says he finds his work with the medical center “exhilarating” as it moves forward on a $350 million plan to relocate to a 100-plus acre site nearby and develop a 280-bed acute care teaching medical center to open in 2010.
"Dave's customer satisfaction achievements at Volvo have helped us immeasurably in advancing the quality of care we deliver to patients, family members and other guests,” said Edward Gwazda, executive director of the Princeton HealthCare System Foundation. “The Long family demonstrates that service and generosity make a difference in the life of a community.”
Building a new dealership in Edison, N.J., not only benefited Long, but the nearby Institute for Children with Cancer and Blood Disorders as well. Throughout the year, Long helps raise money for the institute and its programs through many events - including $100,000 from the raffle of a Volvo donated by Long. “I've never seen a more giving group of people,” Long said. “They're close to my heart.”
For his part, Long is thrilled his efforts have been recognized by Ford Motor Company because company founder “Henry Ford pushed his employees to get involved in the community,” he said.
Salute To Dealers was established in 2001 to demonstrate Ford Motor Company's commitment to its dealer principals who improve the lives of those in need in their communities while providing outstanding products and services. The program is conducted under the guidance of Edsel B. Ford II, great-grandson of Henry Ford and a member of Ford's Board of Directors.
"Dave Long's dedication to enriching the lives of people in his community is a commitment that extends beyond his showroom,” Edsel Ford said. “He is an inspiration.”
This year, 62 nominations for exceptional individuals representing 30 states were received for the award. Dealers representing all Ford Motor Company brands - Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Volvo, Mazda, Land Rover and Aston Martin - are eligible to be nominated by a regional representative. A panel of judges selects the honorees based on the dealer's individual activities, length of participation and personal motivation.
This year's award recipients will be honored February 10 at a private reception preceding the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) convention in Orlando. Ford commissioned a portrait of each award honoree depicting in montage form the dealers' involvement in their communities. These portraits commemorating the corporate citizenship efforts of the 2006 honorees will join those of previous honorees in a special display in the lobby of Ford Motor Company's World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich.