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At Long Subaru, a love for patrons—and pets

By Rod Lee

The story of Long Auto Group and Long Subaru is not just one of a transformation from “shoe sales to tire treads” by the company founded by Richard H. Long in 1927.

In this, Long Auto Group’s 90th-anniverary year, it is also one of a dedication to community, as reflected in Webster-based Long Subaru’s support of such local causes as the Webster-Dudley Boys & Girls Club, the Webster-Dudley Food Share and the Webster-Charlton-Dudley school departments—for example.

“If a nonprofit approaches us for something we almost always help. We do our best,” Scott Barry, general manager of the dealership, which operates from a hilltop location on Sutton Road near I-395, said the morning of April 12th in his office off the showroom.

Mr. Barry, a New Hampshire transplant, golf enthusiast and father of three boys, serves on the Board of Directors of the Webster-Dudley Boys & Girls Club. He also owns an English bulldog—entirely appropriate with Long Subaru’s 8th annual “Love-a-Pet” event coming up on May 20th. The event has drawn not only hundreds of patrons during its short but growing existence but also such vendors as Second Chance (a Brookfield shelter), a beekeeper and a veterinarian.

This spring’s vendor lineup according to Sara Brunell, Long Subaru’s marketing director, already includes Second Chance (back for another appearance) along with New England All Breed Rescue, Emma’s Acres Alpacas, German Shephard Rescue of New England, Faery Tribe, BV Cats Inc. and Dr. Kelly House Calls.

Mr. Barry said the event is an annual highlight at Long Subaru.

“People come every year, you can’t find a place to park. They always bring their dogs and kids who help out. We cook lunch, just make it a fun event. We close off the top of our parking lot for about four hours. We help with fees (for those half dozen or so patrons who typically adopt a pet that day).”

While he wasn’t sure where the impetus for Love-a-Pet came from, Mr. Barry noted that “Subaru has done a lot of this kind of thing and encourages us. We got the idea from somebody and decided to give it a shot. A lot of what Subaru does is animal-friendly. It’s part of our culture. A lot of our employees have pets and customers bring their pets into the showroom and service area all the time.”

Love-a-Pet is reflective of Long Subaru and Subaru of America’s corporate philosophy of giving back: “The Subaru Love Promise, to do right…just for the sake of doing it.” Over the past twenty years Subaru of America has donated over $50 million to charitable causes that the company cares about and its employees have logged more than 28,000 volunteer hours.

Long Subaru has touched a number of organizations with its efforts, including but not limited to Adopt A Highway Litter Removal Service of America, the MS Challenge Walk, the Deary Memorial Cancer Fund, the Pan-Mass Challenge and the Tri-Valley Nutrition Program.

The dealership traces its roots to Long Cadillac which was responsible in 1927 for the debut of the first-ever LaSalle, “Cadillac born and bred” and devoted to filling a gap in the market and to bringing new customers into the luxury-automobile sphere. The original company started by R.H. Long—an experienced business owner, local politician and dedicated father—is the oldest continually-owned Cadillac dealership in the country. A GMC franchise was added in 1929, Pontiac in 1931 and Oldsmobile in the early 1990s. Long Subaru has been operating from 2004 to the present and makes its name with such popular new models as Forester, Outback, Legacy, Impreza and Crosstrek, used cars, parts and accessories and an auto body shop and collision repair center.

“We pride ourselves on hiring good people who share our values,” Mr. Barry said of Long Subaru’s fifty employees. One of these, Service Manager David Eastty, recently retired after supervising the service of an estimated 100,000-plus Subaru’s (his family has also owned more than 20 Subaru’s). Mr. Eastty was “an anchor” at the company for approximately thirty years.

Having been in business “through three wars, 11 presidents and one Great Depression” as the company likes to put it, Long Auto Group is here to stay—and make an impact.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.