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2023 Annual Awards Large Business of the Year: Darling’s Brunswick Ford

April 6, 2023

Darling’s Brunswick Ford – Large Business of the Year

Before Darling’s Brunswick Ford opened their doors in December 2020, our chamber office received a phone call. It came from Lynne Darling, asking who could do a Christmas lights display this late in the season at their soon-to-be-acquired dealership on Bath Road in Brunswick, and also if we could set up a meeting to discuss how they can get plugged into the community. A few weeks later, we met, and Lynne simply said, “We love supporting the community — it’s our whole thing — who can we help and how?” I mentioned a number of organizations, having no idea that over the next three years, Darling’s would support nearly all of them in one way or another.

Darling’s has been in Maine since about the time there were automobiles to be sold, and they’ve been a leading employer in the Bangor area for generations. Though they are known for their auto dealerships, they also have Darling’s Insurance in Brewer, New Reach Financial in Bangor and several other businesses, too. Everywhere their name is, there are satisfied employees and an emphasis on customer service.

Andre Lester, assistant general manager at Darling’s Brunswick Ford, credits the employee satisfaction to regularly hearing owner Jay Darling insisting “No matter what, take care of your employees.” When we met, Andre told me that whenever Jay comes by the dealership he doesn’t enter through the showroom — he enters through the garage. He knows every mechanic’s name and their kids’ names, and he stops and talks with them before seeking out the managers and sales staff.

Another secret to their success isn’t a secret at all — it’s how engaged they get supporting community projects. In just a few minutes of talking, Andre listed off dozens of organizations and events that Darling’s supports, including donating an EV Van to Curtis Memorial Library for a bookmobile, supporting Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, Miles for Mills and the Travis Mills Foundation, Cornerstone Sponsorship of our chamber, title sponsor of two seals for Marine Mammals of Maine, the Chocolate Church Arts Center, the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets, being a tree sponsor at the Midcoast Tree Festival, supporting school sports programs all around the state, and sending their fundraising ice cream truck to well over 50 events annually.

That’s how you build a culture of caring. With their community-first approach, it’s no mystery how they get so many caring, incredible employees wanting to work with them. And if prospective employees don’t have that same mindset, Andre says they won’t hire them, regardless of how impressive their résumé may appear. That’s how you build a brand that has been respected in Maine for over 100 years.

Congratulations to our 2023 Large Business of the Year, Darling’s Brunswick Ford.2

View their video profile here.

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