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"Realizing how much impact we can have in our community while partnering with incredible people and our favorite non-profit organization to tackle today's biggest societal challenges has been humbling."
“Realizing how much impact we can have in our community while partnering with incredible people and our favorite non-profit organization to tackle today's biggest societal challenges has been humbling,” nominee Welch said. “It’s rewarding to know that our team loves what we do in the non-profit world and it's the number one reason why they work where they work.”
A 1986 graduate of Woodinville High School in Woodinville, Washington, Welch studied business at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Edmonds College in Edmonds, Washington, where he played baseball. Welch’s entrepreneurial spirit drove him to leave school and get out into the work world. By the time he was 23, he had co-founded four businesses.
“A friend of mine working at BMW in Bellevue, Washington, noticed my competitive nature and suggested that I come in and apply for a sales position,” Welch said. “I was hired on the spot.”
He excelled in sales at the dealership and was named sales manager in 1993. Welch was later recruited to run the sales department for a Volkswagen and Saab store in Ballard, Washington, which he helped become a top-volume store. In 2006, Welch was offered the opportunity to buy Auburn Volkswagen and signed a six-year purchase deal.
“When I took over, Auburn Volkswagen was ranked 8 out of 12 Volkswagen dealerships in new-car volume,” he said. “With almost no exception, since 2008, we have placed in the top three in volume for new Volkswagen sales, service sales, as well as parts sales in the state of Washington.”
Welch is proud that his dealership was named to the list of South Sound Top Places to Work in 2017 by South Sound BIZ magazine. “We have been blessed to have an incredible team of 70 people that all understand the mission – to make lives better one Volkswagen at a time,” he said. “Our team members also enjoy being a part of an entity that gives back, as many have volunteered their time and given generously in addition to what the store contributes.”
Welch works closely with his bride, Amy, to run the dealership as a true community partner. They support, both financially and as volunteers, a dozen non-profits that improve the quality of life for the people of their region. Amy Welch is on Board of Directors for the Rescue Mission Tacoma, Washington, which offers emergency shelter and food for the homeless, as well as programs that aim to lift people out of poverty.
“Our partnership with this group is the most in-depth and impactful, as we are getting families off the street and on a path with hope,” he said.
Welch is also proud of their association with Santa’s Castle, an organization that provides Christmas gifts to military families in need. For the last five years, Auburn Volkswagen has hosted players from the Seattle Seahawks at the dealership and invited the community to meet the athletes and bring food donations for the Auburn Food Bank and toys for Santa’s Castle. “Each year, we've been able to raise around 3,000 pounds of food and two to three truckloads of toys from the generous fans in the Northwest to bless these people in need,” he said.
The Welches have also forged a strong relationship with the Pierce Military and Business Alliance to provide turkeys at Thanksgiving and hams at Christmas to boost morale on nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Matthew and Amy were named Honorary Commanders by Command Chief Zaki Mazid for a two year term for partnering to bless the soldiers.
Other groups they support include D.A.D.S (helping fathers get back into their children’s lives in the Urban Community), KidCo (donated two vans to this bully prevention group); Vadis (provides services and employment to people with disabilities and Auburn Volkswagen has hired individuals from the group); CryOut! (programs that foster creativity for kids); as well as sponsoring prayer breakfasts, raising money to build a home for a family in Mexico and working with an area school to help children on the edge of homelessness during the holidays.
“We like to say we only talk about what we are for – not what we are against,” Welch said. “If we can keep the conversations about love and bettering humanity and off divisiveness the response is incredibly positive.”
Welch was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Vicki Giles Fabré, executive vice president of the Washington State Auto Dealers Association. He and his wife, Amy, have three children.