Mitsubishi Motors Dealer Partner Spotlight – Rath Mitsubishi On Reintroducing The Brand To Rural Communities

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) is celebrating dealer partners who go above and beyond for their communities. They provide more than just a great place to buy a car – they help their hometowns thrive in the good times and heal in the challenging times. They rise to the occasion, whatever the occasion may be.

Rath Mitsubishi is a family-owned and operated dealership located in Springdale, Arkansas, and part of the Rath Auto Resources group. After starting as a pre-owned car dealership in Fort Smith, Arkansas, the group expanded, and Rath Mitsubishi began selling new Mitsubishi vehicles in early 2020. Now, David Rath is the general manager of the store and assists his wife in building her non-profit to pay forward a kind gesture that was extended to them during times of difficulty for their new family.

General Manager, Rath Mitsubishi, Springdale, AR

  1. To start, let's discuss the history of your dealer group and the success of your Mitsubishi store. I'm the third generation of our family in the car business; my grandfather got us into it ages ago. My dad was a finance manager and sales manager at other stores and then grew into a General Sales Manager position. He bought that dealership out in the early 2000s and became an independent dealer. We branded as Rath Auto Resources and focused on pre-owned.

    I started out detailing cars in high school and then started selling cars in 2011. Worked my way up through finance and insurance, and then we opened up this store here in Springdale in the middle of the summer of 2017. It was going to be a second dedicated pre-owned store, but in the later part of 2019, we were approached by Mitsubishi to see if we'd be interested in putting a franchise store here.

    We became a Mitsubishi store during the early part of 2020, which happened right as COVID hit; we got our first three truckloads of cars and then the pandemic happened …so that was fun. Ha! At the same time that we were opening the store, my wife and I were starting our family, too. It was a hectic time with a whole lot going on both personally and professionally. We've been a Mitsubishi store now for about three years, and it's really been great. It's really starting to feel like it's growing into its own.
  2. How has the community reacted to the introduction of your Mitsubishi dealership? When we first got the franchise, launching in the early part of 2020, it had been maybe seven years since there had been a Mitsubishi presence in this area. There weren't any units in operation, and the closest dealer was two hours away in Tulsa, so it took a bit of time to get the word out. We already had an established customer base from our pre-owned store, so we leveraged that a lot of the first year. We would show them the new cars and remind them of the quality of Mitsubishi vehicles.

    When that new Outlander hit – I'm sure every Mitsubishi dealer says this – that was like the Beatles dropping Abbey Road or something; it was huge and so many people got really excited. That has been a huge business boost for us and a huge image boost for the brand in general. That's been really exciting for us especially because Mitsubishi is our only new-car franchise, so we're excited how the brand has caught hold and grown in our community.
  3. What kind of community outreach do you do in the area? Do you support local or national charity operations? We've kinda dabbled over the years and at one point felt spread a little thin, like we couldn't impact any one thing very much because we were trying to do too many different things. We're members of the Chamber of Commerce here in Springdale, and they're supportive anytime we have something going on, like the grand reopening we're planning because we've been doing this big remodel for the store to better fit the Mitsubishi brand.

    We've also supported the local schools, sports programs, and such, but the biggest thing we have going on is even more personal. About a year ago, my wife started a nonprofit organization supporting local NICUs. With our sons, she had a complex, high-risk pregnancy, and they had to spend time in the NICU. That's a cause that's close to home for our family.

    I've been hesitant to mix the dealership and nonprofit until recently, but that nonprofit is growing and my wife is amazing. If you had told me this would turn into a nonprofit, I would've had no idea where to start. She said, "I'm going to do this and just figure it out," and she just puts her head down and figures it out. It's official, registered with the federal government with the proper forms and everything, and it's been growing a lot.

    The charity focuses mainly on families who might be in the NICU around Christmas time, which is when our boys were there a little over three years ago. You would get a Christmas stocking, and it's got little goodie bags inside and toothbrushes and anything you might need while spending Christmas in the NICU. We so appreciated that and wanted to do the same for others, but then it grew past that. At first, we funded it entirely out of our own pocket, but this past year she got so many donations from local businesses like dentist supplies, snacks from different people, and all kinds of stuff. We got so much it turned into tote bags, not stockings, and we were able to deliver to three different hospitals in our area. We're probably gonna do more through the dealerships to grow and support it so it can become something regional going forward, just because it's so close to home.
  4. So it's like your family is paying it forward. Yes, exactly. Our twin daughters just turned five, and the boys just turned three, and they are the inspiration for this whole thing.
  5. I heard you had some additional excitement at your Mitsubishi store in the last year. What was that all about? Yes, we were chosen to do the delivery of a brand new Mitsubishi Outlander to the winner of a national promotional contest – the Mattel Hot Wheels 2022 Kroger Mitsubishi Motors Sweepstakes. Our Mitsubishi rep reached out to me and told me we were going to be the delivery dealer to the gentleman who ended up winning. The folks were super nice, the winner was very deserving – and a total character! – and we got a lot of interest from the media in the area, so it was exciting to be a part of that.
  6. Is there anything else you'd like to share with your community? You know, in terms of the community, I think we're just excited to be in northwest Arkansas. This is a great community, a great area to live in, to raise a family in, to work in. I think there are a lot of places that check one or two of those boxes, but it's hard to check all of them. The reason that we're here is to grow the business and to have a family, and that's really beneficial to us as a family business. There are other areas where you can sell cars, but it won't feel as good as trying to raise your kids, so that's a big difference about this area.

    And we feel the same way about our team members, too. Everybody that works here, I want to see their family succeed; I want to see them grow, and have a good place to work so they can provide for their families in that way. We spend a lot of time here, just like any other dealership. The hours aren't great in the car business, but I think it comes back to the family business idea. We want to see everybody do really well, and I think this place is positioned to do some really great things for the people who work here and the community in general.

Through a network of approximately 330 dealer partners across the United States, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) is responsible for the sales, marketing and customer service of Mitsubishi Motors vehicles in the U.S. In its recently announced Midterm Plan – "Challenge 2025" – MMNA's parent company Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has committed to accelerating its efforts toward a sustainable carbon-neutral future, setting goals of 40 percent reduction in vehicle CO2 emissions and 50 percent reduction in operational CO2 emissions by 2030. Additionally, MMC has set targets for global sales of electrified vehicles at 50 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035, leveraging a blend of plug-in hybrids (PHEV), hybrids (HEV) and pure electrics (BEV).

MMNA has its headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, as well as corporate operations in California, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas, and Florida. 

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