|Posted by Galfur on November 11, 2011 at 8:20 PM|
Well folks, the main event has arrived on my calendar. Galfur is reporting live from the Grand Cypress Resort, which is host venue to the Jim Moran Classic. This is the “ex-jock” event I’ve been waiting to attend. I’ll share a little about the “ex-jocks” but I would be remiss not to mention the reason behind the event and the man who created it, Jim Moran.
The JM Classic is a living testimonial to one of the greatest men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Mr. Moran passed away a few years ago but the charity event that he started continues. I am very fortunate to attend. I was very fortunate to meet Mr. Moran several times during his later years. I have the pleasure of doing business with his company. I’ve been to his home, on his boats. I’ve been fortunate to enjoy some of the perks of Mr. Moran. But what made Mr. Moran so special to so many people is not just his success story, which is astounding but his motto to “never forget where you came from.”
He started in the Chicago area running a gas station. One day, a stranger asked if he could park his car on the corner of the gas station lot, he was selling it. Mr. Moran granted permission. When the car sold, in relatively short order, Mr. Moran asked the guy if he had made any money off of the transaction. Intrigued by the answer, Mr. Moran began selling buying and selling used cars at his gas station. He quickly learned that he could make more money selling a used car than he could from pumping gas for a week. He sold the gas station and invested in the car business.
Courtesy Motors was launched, a Ford dealership I believe. Mr. Moran ran the business to reflect his values. He was Jim Moran the Courtesy Man. As television was launching in the US, Mr. Moran spotted one in the hardware store window one evening. He went in, asked about it, then bought one. He studied it, if you can believe that. And soon enough, an idea was born. Mr. Moran began producing and emceeing his own variety show. He was Ed Sullivan in Chicago before Ed Sullivan was ever heard of. The program was sponsored by “Courtesy Motors.” The result? He became the largest selling dealership in the US. So big, that the small detail, pin striping I believe, that he placed on all the Ford vehicles he sold gained urban legend status. People actually began asking other Ford dealers if they could get a Courtesy Ford there. Ford Motor Company wasn’t as impressed and asked that he cease the pinstriping.
Nonetheless, Mr. Moran continued with unprecedented success. He made the cover of Time Magazine. A car dealer, on the cover of Time Magazine?!?!? And when things seemed like they couldn’t get better, well, they didn’t. Mr. Moran was diagnosed with a life threatening ailment. It escapes me whether it was his heart or cancer but it shut him down. Worse, his wife was then diagnosed with cancer. The two of them sold out and migrated to South Florida to wait out the last months and years of their lives. Mr. Moran’s wife passed away but he survived his ailment, a full recovery.
About that time, there was a car company named Toyota that wanted to begin distributing their vehicles within the US. However, they were not connected, didn’t understand the dealer franchising laws, distribution, all of the logistics that go along with the business. They contacted Mr. Moran and asked if he would be willing to buy in. In return for his investment, they would give him exclusive distribution rights of all Toyota vehicles within the five southeast states that are, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and the Carolinas. Now you can imagine how that investment paid off.
JM Family Enterprises, parent company of Southeast Toyota Distributors is a privately owned $10 billion business. They are a perennial on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. I could go on and on about the things that company does for it’s employees. I won’t. I’ll simply say, Mr. Moran understood, if you take care of people, they will pay you back. Nobody ever understood that better than Mr. Moran.
With all that success, Mr. Moran “remembered where he came from”, so he looked around and paid tribute to the old adage “anyone can make a buck but few can make a difference.” He decided to invest his time, energy and money in kids, youth. And he decided to do it with kids who were wandering astray, give them a chance to get on the right path in life. He built youth centers and he funded programs. In those programs, kids who had gotten off track in life were brought in and trained on things that could give them hope, even careers. Things like automotive electronics, mechanics and the like.
That is the essence of the event I am attending. It is a charity, where the benefits go to kids. Kids from bad neighborhoods, kids from broken homes, kids who just need another chance, someone to believe in them and see the good in them. Mr. Moran did. He was truly a great man. It was an honor to meet him, to know him, in any capacity.
So here I am in Orlando rubbing elbows with a ton of ex-jock celebrities. They come here to support what Mr. Moran put in place. We all do. The galf, the food, the venue, the treatment (a flute of champagne brought to me while I am registering for my room). It’s all nice. It’s all so well done. It’s all Mr. Moran.
Here’s a link to the event (celebrity page first, I’ve given you my version of the background already) http://www.jmclassic.com/Celebrities.aspx. I didn’t bother pulling the phone camera out at the reception, nobody else was doing it and I didn’t want to be the lone dweeb who did. So far, I’ve run across Jeff Cross (I had never heard of him before), Eric Hill, Dan Roundfield (he was easy to pick out), Bob Brudzinski (he was sporting a big ole sparkling ring….did he win a Super Bowl? I’m guessing that’s what he was wearing). Earl Morrall too, he’s a frail looking old guy, could be anyone’s grandfather but I’m happy to say, he was enjoying a beer, signing autographs and shaking hands. Oh, and the other “easy pick” was Ed “Too Tall” Jones. Yeah, he’s big. The easiest way to find the ex-jock is to follow the kids in the crowd around. They have footballs and simply walk up to the celebrity and get a signature.
There were a couple of others that were obviously football players but I could not figure out their identity. And for the Buckeye fans out there, Keith Byars is here too. I think I have Mike Schmidt pegged but I didn’t wander close enough, so perhaps I’ll get a better look on the course tomorrow. If these guys would put a uniform on I might know who the hell I was looking at. It’s kind of a funny dynamic going on here. Everyone looks you over pretty good because everyone is trying to do the same thing, figure out if you’re “one of them”….the celebrities. I’m thinking I’ll carry a sharpie tomorrow and see if I get an autograph seeker to approach me first or a security officer. What sort of odds you giving scurds?
Galf in the morning, it just keeps getting better.
I’m only bummed that Mrs. Galfur didn’t join me but her and I are going to hook up down in Lauderdale on my December cross country jaunt (Orange County first then Lauderdale, sheesh). Besides, Mrs. Galfur is more of a beach gal and I’m all about delivering the goods
Final note to Mac. I’m looking for Boselli and Munoz. They had a “now” picture of Boselli in the reception area. He looks like a CEO……he could be anyone of the hundreds of us business schmucks in attendance. It’s going to be a challenge but I’m on it.