NEXT MEETING: January 18, 2013

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MEETING OF January 11, 2013


Jim Young, Club President, called the auspicious Richmond Rotary Club to order, after which Ralph Hill led the Pledge of Allegiance. Stoney Stonework asked for a moment of silence for “freedom, peace, and justice on earth”. Henry Kelman, gave us the “thought of the day” by providing today’s stock market assessment – it’s up!

Rotarians with Guests

Jim Young introduced and welcomed Larry Maxson, General Manager, and Scott Vickery, General Sales Manager of El Cerrito Honda. Scott is today’s speaker.

Sunshine Report

John Nicol’s 90th birthday is on January 24th, but there will be a party for him on Saturday, January 19th from 12:00 to 5:00 at his home. Everyone is invited. Hank Covell announced that John is in good spirits although he can’t play poker with the gang anymore.


  • Felix Hunziker reminded everyone about the tree-planting workday next Saturday, January 19th starting at 9:00 A.M. The location is the Solano Playlot at 38th and Solano Ave. Fourteen trees will be planted that day. Please sign up with Felix.
  • Alan Baer reminded everyone to sign up for the Crab Feed scheduled for February 2nd. It is $400 per table or $40 per individual. Erle was adamant that you make sure to get your name on the list so he’ll have enough crab to go around! Be forewarned, if you don’t, he might be “crabby”.
  • Jim Young reminded everyone that there are several projects in the planning stages and urged members to join one of the committees. These include the Building Together and Peace Garden projects.
  • Jim also reminded everyone that there are several BARSHEEP events coming up including the St. Patrick’s Day party on March 16th; a Four-Way Test speech contest that we’ve been asked to sponsor along with El Cerrito; and a co-sponsored concert featuring Lacy Dalton on May 2nd.
  • Liliane Koziol provided additional information about the St. Patrick’s Day party – it will go from 6:00 to 9:00 P.M. on March 16th at the same location as last year. The price will also stay the same at $40.00 per person. There will, however, be a new Irish band and dancers. Liliane could use help on the project so anyone able to assist Liliane with the planning and preparation, please contact her directly.
  • Jim reminded everyone that the RotoCare Clinic Grand Opening is scheduled for February 21st.
  • Jim announced that there were two more seats available for the Banker’s Brunch auction item at $250 each. Look for his e-mail about how to get in on this amazing opportunity.


Again this week there were no birthdays, Club anniversaries or wedding anniversaries to acknowledge.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Joe Bagley had happy dollars for the 49ers but swore retribution if they let him down this year!
  • David Keystone had happy dollars just for being here today.
  • Don Lau gave happy dollars for Alan Blavins’ excellent job in coordinating the scribes.
  • Stoney had happy dollars for Ohio State’s being ranked third in the country. He then slipped in another joke which got a rousing round of laughter – but if you missed it you’ll have to ask him because I’m not repeating it here!
  • Josh Surowitz had happy dollars for being back after spending most of the last month travelling.
  • Liliane gave happy dollars while wishing peace and happiness for all of her fellow Rotarians. She said she had recently visited Google in Mountain View where she was given a tour by the “Jolly Good Fellow” (an official Google job title), whose primary job responsibility is to “create conditions of peace in the world”. He had suggested that as we all walk around the planet every day, that we silently send out wishes of happiness to those we pass.
  • Tom Waller gave happy dollars in hopes that Jim’s eye surgery goes well this coming Tuesday.
  • Jim then presented Mack Nevin, general manager of the Richmond Country Club with the $420 collected by the members for the great job the wait staff does each week.
  • Lastly, Jim reminded everyone of the meaning of “every Rotarian, every year” and the importance of making your Paul Harris donation.

Norm’s Nonsense

A housewife called in a plumber to fix the drain in her kitchen sink. While the plumber was working, she asked him how much he charged.
Plumber: “I charge $150 an hour.”
Housewife: “Good heavens, a brain surgeon doesn’t make that much.”
Plumber: “I know, I used to be one.”


Honda of El Cerrito

Jim introduced Scott Vickery, General Sales Manager for El Cerrito Honda, noting that El Cerrito Honda has a reputation for operating a state-of-the-art, modern car dealership with great customer service.

Scott got his start in the automobile industry nearly 35 years ago when he took a job at a service station outside St. Louis, Missouri that had four gas pumps, two mechanics’ bays, and typically around 5 or 6 automobiles for sale at any given time. If they sold three cars a month the owners figured they’d been successful. Today, El Cerrito Honda sells in excess of three cars per day, and would count it a bad day if they sold no more than that. Scott stated that the auto industry impacts 7 out of every 10 American jobs in one way or another be it through electronics, shipping, parts and materials manufacturing, advertising, healthcare, or a host of other sectors. El Cerrito Honda was purchased in the ‘90s by Mr. Hendrick, owner of the Hendrick Automotive Group based in Charlotte, North Carolina, who over the years introduced a host of “best practices” to the business. These innovations have made El Cerrito Honda a top-notch dealership offering a world class customer service experience and as a result, word-of-mouth advertising has been one of its most important sources of new business.

In 2012, El Cerrito Honda grew by 12% growing from a staff of 100 to 112. It is a culturally diverse organization with eight different languages spoken among its staff members allowing them to serve a wide variety of customers. Last year the dealership sold 1,804 brand new cars and 818 pre-owned cars bringing in approximately $70 million in gross revenues. Revenues comprised $41.3M in new car sales; $17.6M in pre-owned sales; $4.7M in service; and $6.65M in parts. Scott reported that for every car sold approximately $3,000 goes back to the state of California in taxes and fees and that net profit per vehicle is approximately $487. Scott noted that the days of $3-5,000 margins are gone and that to maintain a profitable dealership is a much more difficult proposition in today’s economy.

Scott stated that El Cerrito Honda is proud of the role it has played in the community. They have established a scholarship fund for dealership employees and have contributed funds and volunteer efforts to a variety of community organizations and events including the One World Music Festival; the El Cerrito School District’s “Clothes for Kids” project; the Mira Vista Country Club’s golf tournament fundraiser; and both the Richmond and El Cerrito Chambers of Commerce. They also rebuilt a classic Harley Davidson motorcycle for the Richmond Police Department. They are interested in creating partnerships in the community and are always looking for ways to give back.

In the question and answer period, Scott told the group that the two most significant ways the car business has changed over the years have to do with advances in technology. Most new vehicles have 3-7 computers in them and repairs are almost entirely computer-based. Computers diagnose the problem and tell you what to fix and how to fix it. The other technological change is that approximately 85% of sales are now made via the internet, placing smaller dealerships at a distinct disadvantage if they are unable to fully utilize web-based applications. Scott stated that in terms of quality, American cars stack up just fine against the big Japanese brands, namely Honda and Toyota. When asked about what changes in automobiles we might see over the next five years he noted that there will be more electric cars available but didn’t foresee any major changes in the industry.

Lynn Martin, Scribe