A Lot of Love: How a Used Car Dealership Provides Homeless Services

Posted by Genevieve St. Martin, Staff Writer Aug 6, 2020 1:41:11 PM

Car shopping along E Sprague Ave. in Spokane Valley can feel like running a gauntlet of clambering salespeople, flashy marketing ploys, and banners promising deals that always have a catch, but there’s one used car lot in the middle of it all where your experience is guaranteed to be different. 

In a way, it is a little haven of respite—or we should say a sprawling haven—which stretches for the equivalent of three city blocks between Park Rd. and Thierman Rd., just off I90.

This is UGM Motors. On this lot, there is no haggling, no price manipulation, and zero commissioned employees, and that is just the beginning; this is a place where good business and heartfelt ministry intersect. 

Founded in 2005, as God’s Garage, Union Gospel Mission developed the lot with the intent to provide revenue for their growing shelters where men, women and children in crisis can find food, rest and warmth, and it quickly became much more.

We asked UGM Motors General Manager Jim Stroh how the experience shopping at Motors differs from other dealerships.

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“We’re representing UGM and the Lord, not ourselves as salespeople. Our goal is to sell cars with integrity and without pressure.” Jim’s team is more interested in matching people to their ideal car than selling a certain number of vehicles on any given day. “I believe God blesses our organization through this type of service. UGM is people oriented, and that begins with the people on the team itself.”

Besides the unique shopping experience, we asked Jim why he would recommend shopping at UGM Motors.

“UGM changes lives. They simply just change the direction, the focus, the passion—everybody who has come through here, even the staff—the expectation is that we’re all growing."

To shop at UGM Motors is to support men and women in our region who really want and need help getting off the street and getting into services that will help restore them to society as contributing members.

“The hand of God is on Union Gospel Mission Ministries. If I didn’t work here and wanted to support UGM, I would be interested in the numbers. They work. Over three-hundred thousand meals are served each year, and that alone is an incredible accomplishment. Not only that, they donate enough food to other organizations to produce the same amount of meals. Over and above that is the number of people that they help in so many different ways through their programs. They are an incredible ministry to support.

lot-photo“What I am most proud of,” he adds, “is the unity of the team. Typically, anyone employed here doesn’t leave unless there’s an extenuating circumstance. It is a great environment. We start every day with prayer. We go through devotionals together and are always encouraging each other to grow. That’s one thing about UGM Ministries: when you work here, there are daily opportunities to grow as a person and also with your team. There’s a culture of personal and spiritual improvement that branches out from our team to those we serve. We, as a team, are unified in our desire to get to know our customers and we aim to give them the experience and the product that they came in for.”

The vehicles UGM Motors receives and prepares for sale are almost exclusively donated by people who no longer have need for their used auto or are looking for a way to support the Mission.

“Ninety-five percent of our vehicles are donated, so we never know what we are going to receive. This is an exciting element for me. I like most anything with a motor and wheels or something that floats. With that, it is amazing to see God’s hand in matching people to a vehicle they are wanting. For example, someone came in looking for a specific size and style of boat we did not have, but two days later a match was donated and we were able to connect the donation with our customer. This type of thing happens on a regular basis.

We can literally see God looking out for people and working through us to provide for them.”

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Jim’s team of ASE-certified and highly experienced technicians do a thorough inspection when a vehicle is donated. Then, cost-effective repairs are made to the highest standard, and all repairs are written into a full-disclosure agreement to be signed at purchase. The only time a repair would not be performed on a vehicle is when the repair or repairs would cost more than the value of the vehicle. At that point, the vehicle is recycled or put on the lot for sale as a potential project. Customers are fully informed as to what to expect when purchasing a vehicle.

UGM Motors technicians take pride in restoring older vehicles and giving them a chance at a fresh new future. The production team test drives, evaluates and diagnoses every vehicle, looking for every opportunity to produce a vehicle for sale. The crew performs repairs that range between lube oil and filter, brakes, computer systems, and even as far as head gasket or motor swap. From there, they are turned over to detail to bring the exterior and interior back to life.

Ultimately, a car has undergone a real makeover when it is finally presented for sale. A great deal of experience, time and expense goes into each vehicle, and the reason is that the men, women and children we serve at UGM are worth our effort.

Union Gospel Mission exists to partner with the Inland Northwest to reach the poor with the love and power of the gospel so they may become God-dependent, contributing members of society. And UGM Motors exists to partner with car buyers and donors in making this possible.

Jim says, “The big difference here is God. It’s not me, it’s not my staff, it’s that he is here and working in and through all of us.” How does that impact a car dealership? Donors keep giving, buyers keep shopping, and men, women and children in need keep getting housed and fed.

This is truly God’s Garage.

 

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Topics: UGM Motors, homeless, homeless shelter

 

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