(The Daily Dish) Ken Garff is a name Utahns know and love. This month Ken Garff Auto is celebrating 90 years in business, and we have Board Chair Kathi Garff with us today.

Many may find themselves wondering why Ken Garff started his car company 90 years ago. Kathi Garff, Board Chair gave us the backstory.

Ken Garff worked at his grandpa’s farm when he was a little boy, and started a small business during the war at a gas station and sold used and new cars. Due to the war and the great depression, no one was shipping cars. Jobs were sparse, so he created jobs for his friends and family. He hired them to drive to Michigan and drive cars back to Utah, two at a time. Ken was a salesman at heart. He loved customers and employees and grew his business on that basis. They were his family.

Core values are so important to the company leadership and employees. His two core values were honesty and integrity. Their mission at Ken Garff Automotive is to treat people right and because of their diverse group of employees, choosing one of their core values or respect, it plays a big part in why the company culture is as spectacular and unique as it is.

Ken Garff always instilled in his children that they were part of a community. Whatever they have they need to share with their neighbors. When COVID hit, everyone was isolated and discouraged. As a company they looked around and employees saw various needs within their own communities. Employees helped to create the “We’re Hear for You” program and put our value of teamwork into action.

Kathi tells us that her parents taught them that one of the best things they could attain in life was an education. They saw this within her family and community more than ever and decided to choose one effort to support, as a family they chose Education.

Now “Success in Education” has grown to be the platform for the state of Utah. “Key to Success” is now statewide and in all schools. They hope to be affecting education for Utahns in the whole state.

Ken Garff and his son, Robert, were builders. They gave their children opportunities to earn their living through business. Ken’s philosophy was to allow people, and his family to work and put it back into the community. This philosophy allowed Ken Garff Automotive to grow and operate in 8 states. And also build other companies to help other people build wealth.

Championing women in leadership roles at Ken Garff has always been important to Kathi. She feels that women are capable decision-makers, also women buy the cars. Also, they are practical and influential. Robert always included her in the decision-making as they grew the business. Today, women’s intuition is very important and we need more women to help makes these decisions.

At Ken Garff, they have two women initiatives:

  • Women Who Succeed
  • Women Empowered

They also choose to invest in women companywide so they feel valued, respected, and prepared for any role with equal pay and equal opportunity.

Kathi is proud of many things about the company but say’s the main thing she admires is the employees. Their work ethic, the way they serve others and try their best but most of all because they strive to treat people RIGHT!

If you’d like to learn more about Ken Garff as they celebrate their 90th Anniversary, visit their website.


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