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Frank Hug Jr.
Hug Chevrolet Buick GMC
“As a young teenager, I was recycling parts in the dealership’s salvage yard and learning firsthand what a small-town, family-owned dealership experience meant for customers.”
“Each generation of the Hug family has been fortunate to have the opportunity to lead the dealership to business success and in turn, serve our community,” nominee Hug said.
A 1981 graduate of Northside High School in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Hug earned a B.A. in accounting and business administration from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, in 1985.
Hug grew up in the automobile business. In fact, when he was born in 1962, his grandfather was already celebrating 25 years as a dealer on Main Street in Charleston. Hug’s father, Frank A. Hug Sr., entered the dealership in 1959, and Hug followed in his footsteps. “As a young teenager, I was recycling parts in the dealership’s salvage yard and learning firsthand what a small-town, family-owned dealership experience meant for customers,” he said.
After college, despite interviewing for jobs as a CPA, Hug’s father offered his son a position in the company with a minimum tenure of 12 months. “That was 33 years ago, and I figure I have performed every job at the dealership at one time or another,” he said.
Hug learned the value of hard work from his father, who led by example and was a beloved leader. “Genuine care for his employees and his customers was always at the forefront,” he said. “Our employees and I have carried on that legacy and know how vital a caring, community-focused culture is to success.”
To that end, when an initiative began to help provide foster children with safe and secure housing in Charleston by remodeling buildings at a former nursing home, Hug led a group of volunteers to help raise funding to offset some of the $1.1 million cost. Freewill Baptist Family Ministries obtained the property and was looking to turn it into Maggie House, which would feature four cottages to house 32 children.
“I discovered this need in our area after attending a community meeting, and I was both shocked and saddened to learn that children from communities in our region were taken to live in foster care in other parts of Arkansas – and many times separated from their siblings,” he said.
With the help of two dealership employees, Hug led an effort that centered the fundraising around the Arkansas Community Foundation’s Day of Giving. The dealership hosted meetings to organize the campaign and employees spread the word to interested churches and organizations in seven neighboring counties.
“More than $100,000 was raised during the first event and $250,000 more the following two years,” Hug said. “Our community’s participation in the Day of Giving helped create an awareness to the plight of these children and brought needed attention from across the region to the many different causes that assist foster children.” Hug Chevrolet Buick GMC received the Arkansas Community Foundation's Smart Corporate Giving Award in 2017 for this effort.
Hug’s showroom has also become a hub of activity as the dealership hosts numerous events for the community. There’s square dancing weekly; Charleston Chamber of Commerce lunch meetings; Santa in the Showroom every Christmas, as well as a gift drive for needy children; food collections; children’s events and much more.
“We have finished renovating our dealership on Main Street and now we are committing time and resources to revive the downtown area and make it an attractive and productive part of the community,” he said.
Hug focuses the dealership support on area youth by sponsoring many activities at area schools. Other groups the dealership supports include Community Services Clearinghouse (Fort Smith group that offers Meals for Kids program); Antioch for Youth & Family food pantry (donated a truck to this Fort Smith group); Shoal Creek Camp (New Blaine, Arkansas); Knights of Columbus Arkansas; local Boys & Girls Clubs; 4-H; and many others. In addition, he has provided scoreboards for high schools in the region and funded building campaigns for area churches, schools and colleges.
Hug was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Greg Kirkpatrick, president of the Arkansas Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Debbie, have two daughters.