By Marguerite Cleveland
Rob Larson has long been a car man, starting out in the family business as a “lot boy” and learning the from the ground up. Started by Rob’s dad, Bob Larson, in 1953, the Larson Automotive Group started with a Buick dealership and has grown to include Toyota, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Cadillac, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Power Sports and Sprinter-Metris. Their luxury campus includes Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Cadillac. Today, Rob’s sons Rob Jr. and Josh Larson serve as executive vice presidents of the family owned company.
Q. Larson Automotive Group has served the South Sound for nearly 70 years. During that time, multi-generations of your family have worked in your dealerships and you have multi-generations of customers. What is it like to know that you are a trusted brand, and how did you develop relationships with your customers that span the years? A. It has been an honor to serve generations of families in the greater Puget Sound. At Larson, we look at what we do and the way we serve our community as an opportunity to provide people with reliable vehicles that help them get to the places they need to and the people they love. We are devoted to creating lifetime relationships. We train our team to provide a level of excellence in the process of finding the right vehicle for our customers because everything matters.
Q. The company hires “nearly 600” employees. How important are they to the success of Larson Automotive Group, and what are ways you let them know they are an important member of the team? A. We work to have an incredible impact on our employees because the truth is, they impact us. Each one of them and their families is an extension of the support our business has received as we work collectively to make a difference in our community. Larson Automotive Group works hard to select individuals that can carry out the company’s core values and high standards. In a business we understand that our team is the face of the company, and with nearly 600 individuals we are inspired to create an environment that rewards our team. We have employees that have worked here for many years, and that is something we are proud of. At our Christmas party, bonuses were handed out based on 10 years with the Larson Automotive Group. Our company also provides great benefits including pet insurance. However, one of the best ways we try to serve individuals that work at Larson is instilling leadership skills and strong core qualities they can carry with them forever.
Q. The Larson Automotive group has a reputation for giving back. Can you share some ways you have contributed to the local community? A. Larson Automotive Group has been passionate about giving back to our community. With every success, Larson Automotive Group pours our love and support back into organizations in need. Last year alone Larson donated pet oxygen masks to all of the fire departments in Pierce County Tacoma Fire Department, South Pierce Fire & Rescue, East Pierce Fire & Rescue, and Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One and West Pierce Fire & Rescue. Larson is one of the biggest sponsors of The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County. With charities such as Rags, which thus far has raised $1.3 million in support of the YWCA and women of domestic violence. Each year Mercedes-Benz Tacoma has donated a brand-new Mercedes- Benz to benefit JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) where 100 percent of their donation benefits the charity with no reserve to Larson. Last year JDRF raised $3.5 million. Larson Automotive Group’s family of dealerships support many campaigns that are spearheaded by their individual brands such as Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels, which presented more than $15 million in pediatric research grants to hospitals across the United States.
Q. This year you are marking some milestone anniversaries within the group. How are you going to celebrate? Any special activities planned at the dealerships to mark the occasion? A. This year, Larson Automotive Group is celebrating several milestones. Our Dodge of Puyallup store is celebrating its 50th anniversary in April, followed by Mercedes-Benz of Tacoma and Toyota of Tacoma, who will be honoring their 25th anniversaries in March. These are not only exciting anniversaries for the brands but also for our community, as our customers and employees have grown these dealerships to what they are today. We both grew up in the automotive industry and have been raised with a solid foundation of gratitude, kindness, hard work and integrity. Together we are creating an exciting future for our family business as it evolves to the needs of our community and with a deep commitment to finding ways for our company to continue to contribute to the improvement of the greater Puget Sound.