Initially targeted to at-risk employees who were underperforming and perhaps facing challenges outside of work, the program has blossomed into a space where people can address personal and professional concerns, such as money management, credit advising, and health and fitness.
Weekly meetings take place during lunch and are guided by Simons and his executive assistant, Laura Campbell.
“We encourage them to exchange cellphone numbers and cheer each other on,” Campbell said.
Discussions and activities typically focus on three main topics — health, finance and relationships. Experts in those areas serve as guest speakers, sharing their insights with employees.
“We also keep confidential what we talk about in there, so it’s kind of like ‘What’s talked about in the mentorship stays in the mentorship’ because we talk about some pretty personal things,” said Simons, who asked participants for permission to share specific examples with Automotive News.
Some employees have met weight-loss goals, while others have rekindled marriages, increased their credit scores and restored their financial footing.
Corree Darcus, a 25-year-old product specialist at CMA’s Valley Honda, has participated in the program twice so far and touts its many benefits. He bought his first home and his dream car — a 2022 Chevrolet C8 Corvette — by better managing his finances.
“I never even thought about buying a house before I joined the mentorship program,” Darcus said.
Robert Migliaccio, service manager at CMA’s Valley Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, moved his family from Pennsylvania to work for the dealership — motivated in part by an opportunity to enroll at ImproveU.
He signed up within his first few months on the job to find mentors, advance in his career, and get the support and encouragement he needed to lose weight.
“Over the last 90 days, I dropped 40 pounds,” said Migliaccio, 39. “I’ve probably been the healthiest I’ve ever been.”
On a professional level, he said the program has filled in missing skill sets and made him a better leader.
“Ultimately, it drives us all to be leaders in our own aspect,” he explained. “We want to do better for ourselves, so we can do better for our customers, better for the community, better for the store.”
Like Darcus, Migliaccio appreciates the personal time that Simons, Campbell and others put in to make the program a success.
“The fact that somebody is willing to give up their personal time in the hustle and bustle of everything we’ve got going on in the automotive industry, to sit down and say, ‘Look, we’re going to dedicate an hour every week to learn, grow and develop each other’ — it’s a huge step forward,” he said.I