2018 Vision Partner: Weingartz
Ron Weingartz made a call in 2015 that Karen Jewell (AWPC’s Executive Director) will never forget.
“Unknown to me at the time, Ron Weingartz serves on the Board of Directors for Livingston County Ultrasound Initiative, a group that contributed funds towards the purchase of our ultrasound machine in 2014. I had sent them a flyer advertising our First Annual Golf Outing, asking for their participation and support. Ron called our center the day after the flyer circulated at their meeting. He asked why I hadn't been to Weingartz to ask about sponsoring the golf outing! I was so surprised to hear a business owner asking me why I hadn’t asked for their donations! He actually sounded upset!”
Karen listed many ways she had observed the company's support of pro-life initiatives in the community, and thanked him for his commitment. “I didn’t want to overwhelm you with requests,” she explained.
Ron told her that Another Way Pregnancy Center “is exactly the kind of organization that Weingartz wants to support in the community. You’re right down the street from our shop, and I never heard of you before the meeting last night!”
Weingartz supported that first golf outing in 2015, and Karen sought their support for each subsequent event. “I felt bad asking again and again, but I didn’t want Ron to be upset that he missed an opportunity to support this mission that he genuinely cares about. So earlier this year I asked what he’d think of an "annual appeal" to provide support and funding throughout the year. Ron was very supportive of the idea, and even helped create a giving plan.”
One thing is certain, the Weingartz business model follows their family’s model of commitment, hard work and community support.
Ron and Peggy Weingartz are involved in numerous charities. Besides serving on the Board of Directors for Livingston County Ultrasound Initiative, Ron also serves on the Board for Gleaners Food Bank and on the Board of Directors for Holy Cross Children’s Services. They are long-term supporters of LACASA, where Peggy serves on the Board. Other charities include Kids Against Hunger, Love INC., and Special Olympics programs. Ron is also a member of the Michigan Knights of Columbus.
Frank Witzil of THE DETROIT FREE PRESS wrote about the family business in an article published April 30, 2016:
"Weingartz operates several stores in Metro Detroit. This family-owned business, established in 1945, is a North American leader in sales and service of outdoor power equipment and parts.
Dan Weingartz is the president of Weingartz, and runs, along with five of his seven brothers and sisters, the family company that grew from a feed and farm supply store in Utica into a $60-million chain of five stores that sells outdoor power equipment.
'The statistics are that the third generation usually screws up the business,' he said, talking about whether a fourth generation would one day own the company. 'They lose the principles — and a lot of times the hard work — of what the founder and the second-generation, who worked next to the founder, understood.'
But, he said, the 230-employee company's strength comes [from] the fact it is owned by a family, and he and his siblings aim to cling to the values that the business was built on — and have even gone to court to do so. In 2012, the company — which, as a result, was publicly praised and reviled by various groups and customers — challenged the government's efforts to mandate that it provide insurance coverage for contraceptives and drugs that Weingartz said induced abortions.
'Being Catholic, being Christian, is who we are,' he said.
The article continues:
Q: How did Weingartz get started?
A: It started in 1945. My grandfather started the business as a feed and farm supply store. We were on Van Dyke and Utica, just north of 59, and there really wasn't anyone to serve the local farmers. It also kind of doubled as a mini general store, whatever people in the local community — it was still sparsely populated — needed. As the community changed and become more suburban, and that was about the same time that power equipment started coming out, we started carrying those items, and that became a bigger piece. We still operate out of our original building in Utica. It's been added on to about 30 times.
Q: As the sixth of seven children, how did you end up becoming president?
A: My brother Ron, who is 10 years my senior, brought me up in the business. Everyone assumed he was the heir apparent. But he thought there were things I had that were going to be important to the future of the business. He pushed for this, and it made it an easy decision among the family.
Q: What was your father's vision for the company?
A: He pioneered this power equipment superstore concept. Now, there are some other dealers in the country that offer this. But the big showroom, big stores, lots of selection and super-high service model was something he believed in. I remember when we opened the second store in Farmington Hills, people thought he was crazy because there was really nothing like it anywhere. It was this huge, 70,000-square-foot power equipment store.
Q: What role did your father play in shaping you as a businessman — and as a man?
A: How long do you got? He's the most influential person in my life. He was a tremendous business man. He was always super prepared, smart, and saw every opportunity from every angle. What he taught us was either we're going to do it right, or we're not going to do it at all. I used to try to have this conversation without bringing our faith into it, but it's impossible because the business is an extension of our faith. It was so much so for him that if the business isn't giving glory to God, we don't need to be in it. When you have a family business and your name is on the building, there is no separation. The way we do business is a direct reflection on our values — good or bad.
Q: There's a line in your father's obituary: "God first, then family, then his business." Is that the priority for Weingartz?
Q: Why did your company go to court over insurance benefits?
A: That was the fight that found us. We certainly are not a litigious company. For years, we had exemptions on our insurance on contraceptives or abortion. Paying for these things was going against our beliefs. We believe that abortion is evil. We supported pro-life causes, but we hadn't been vocal about that. Our only recourse was to file suit. The court said the government didn't have the right to infringe on our religious beliefs. It was a trying time for us. We got a fair amount of hate mail and e-mails and phone calls. But we also got support.
Q: Did you lose business?
A: We lost some business. I don't know if the net was a loss. But, we lost customers.
Q: Are there other issues you draw a hard line on?
A: I would tell you most of them have zero controversy. We do believe that a good company is a virtuous company. When we talk about how our faith informs our business, 99% of it is of zero controversy. Kindness, charity, honesty, integrity, those are virtues of our faith and things we believe strongly in. But those are things most people say, yeah, that's running a good business. Once in a while, it becomes more controversial."
It is a blessing and encouragement to have Weingartz as a 2018 Vision Partner. It takes resources, planning, prayer, hard work and compassion to deliver real hope and help to those who might think that abortion is the only "choice" for the difficult situations they face. The Weingartz family has shown their compassion and heart for women, men, and babies in our community who are most vulnerable to abortion. Their partnership increases our ability to reach and serve those in need of hope, and to work toward preserving the sanctity and dignity of all human life. The family has a long history of using the company to give back to the community, and we're thankful they chose to support the life-affirming work of AWPC.
If you would like to receive information about our Annual Giving Program, please contact Karen Jewell at (248) 939-5900.