When someone asks for help, Steve Allen is right there to lend a helping hand. “I want to try to help people when I can,” says Steve, General Manager at Car-Mart of Fort Smith, AR.
Inspired by the Golden Rule, Steve will stop when he sees someone broken down on the side of the road. He’s been there with cars and trucks rolling by at 55 miles an hour.
Most recently, after the historic flooding in the river valley of west central Arkansas, a friend asked him for help. This buddy needed a truck to transport a camper that he donated to someone who lost everything in the flood. Without a moment’s hesitation, Steve made the arrangements for this stranger.
This single mom with two children thanked Steve whereupon he discovered she was a Car-Mart customer. Steve’s team jumped into action and helped with food, clothes, essentials and money. And, they were glad to help.
On a mission
In 2012, Steve and his wife, Lindsay, went on a week-long mission trip to Honduras to help the local citizens. They built an eight-foot cinder block wall to surround the school, painted murals on the walls of a school and helped at vacation bible school.
“For us, we were just building a wall. But for them, the wall meant security and cleanliness,” says Steve. “The takeaway was that we tend to take for granted how good we have it. Things may be hard at home or work, but overall, we live where we have abundance.”
“After this life-changing experience, you leave with a different appreciation for your life at home. It was a cool experience,” Steve continues. “When you do something like this, you go to help less fortunate, but you come out of it and it actually helps you more than it did them.”
On with life
Growing up in a community with prevalent drug abuse, Steve stayed the course and attended church regularly. “All that stuck with me,” says Steve, a former youth minister and campus minister at Southern Arkansas University, Magnolia. “I made a decision that I wasn’t going to live that kind of life.”
After graduating from Harding University in Searcy, AR, Steve worked in a drug rehab center helping struggling kids. “This helped me understand the drug culture and gave me compassion for other people,” says Steve.
On to Car-Mart
Steve, a native of Pocahontas, AR, interviewed with Car-Mart on a Monday and was hired on the spot. Two days later he started as a Manager in Training at Car-Mart of North Little Rock in February 2010. He then transferred to Jonesboro, AR as Assistant Manager after two months. And, eight months after joining Car-Mart, he was named General Manager at the Car-Mart of Van Buren, AR.
However, thinking the grass was greener at another company, Steve left Car-Mart five years later. He quickly regretted his decision and wanted to be back at Car-Mart. Yet he stuck with the job for two years. Lo and behold, he was asked to return to the company he loves and was handed the keys to the Fort Smith store as its new General Manager.
“That’s pretty high praise. It means a lot to me that they wanted me to come back,” says Steve.
“We get to build relationships with our customers. We see them every week when they make their payments. We find out about their lives. We know when their kids are sick. We become part of their family,” says Steve. “Today, I can see customers from five years ago. There’s something very special about that.
“Car-Mart is a good company to work for,” Steve continues. “They care a lot about their customers and associates. It’s like a big family.”
And, it’s why he came back to Car-Mart. “I wouldn’t be back working at Car-Mart if I didn’t want to help people. It’s what separates us from other dealerships,” concludes Steve. “Anything we can do to help in the community, we try to do. I can help.”
From assisting customers and handing out meals during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to making connections for a camper, helping is just second nature to Steve. “It’s why I do what I do.”