BY AJ TRAGER
FERNDALE – Hodges Subaru, Metro Detroit's only Subaru specific dealer, has been a long-time advocate for the LGBT community and is committed to maintaining that relationship.
The premiere retailer of new and used Subaru vehicles began advertising with Between The Lines 20 years ago after a long-time LGBT client, Shea Howell, suggested that they do so. They started with two ad publications a month, but have since grown to have a much more regular ad presence.
"We cater to a lot of alternative lifestyles, couples or individuals," said principal partner Felipe Mendiola. "So we like to stay with them and inform them with what is going on here and what we may have that they will be interested in."
Mendiola joined the Hodges Subaru team in 1982 after marrying the owner's daughter. He works very closely with principal partner Bill Garcia and together they run the Ferndale based dealership. After spending roughly 65 years at their former location just north of 9 Mile on Woodward, Hodges Subaru recently made a big move to 21205 Woodward Ave., just north of 8 Mile Road. The change is ideal for Hodges Subaru, which now has extended room for their service center and for exterior parking.
"It is amazing that we've been working in that small place," Mendiola said.
Along with expanding the service center, Hodges Subaru now has an extended customer waiting area and the new car building has an open space and clear glass so that those passing by can see the available products.
Subaru has what the company calls the "Subaru Love Promise," a promise to do right by the community and partner with nonprofit organizations and charities working in education, health, community, environment and animal rights. Every year Subaru owners and retailers participate in "Share The Love," which gives back to five charities across the country by donating $250 per sale for every car sold between November and January. Last year Hodges Subaru donated to Almost Home Animal Rescue League and Haven, but has not yet released who will be the benefactor of Share The Love 2016.
Last year was the biggest year for Hodges Subaru, selling around 640 new and used vehicles. Subarus, Mendiola says, have really grown over the last decade.
"Before we were an unknown entity unless you were an avid car researcher," Mendiola explained. "But now people are including us in their shopping list (a candidate to test drive.) Before it was always a challenge. We are a small company, very nimble in changing things. I think about 10 years ago they decided to really cater to American consumers. Developers added more leg room and shoulder room in the cars and changed design every 12 to 18 months. That's what keeps and attracts a lot of people."