Storytelling is a day-in-the-life aspect of Fran Vespa's job as the vice president of Benmatt Industries, an on-car branding and promotional products company that helps dealerships drive their experience with customers and prospects in their marketplace.
"Dealerships do more than just sell cars and service cars, they're a part of the community," Vespa told Mega Dealer News. "They're involved in Little League baseball [and] charity organizations both nationally and locally. We try to help them share these events with the products they give away as gifts."
Benmatt services about 75 percent of the nation's top 125 auto dealers, including Penske and Lithia Corp., and about 8,300 dealerships overall.
BenMatt has been in business for over 70 years as a family-owned company. They began as a jewelry company making nameplates, with RCA being their first client.
According to Vespa, the company made the switch to the automotive industry almost by accident. One of RCA's executives flew into town, and Benmatt's founder asked to borrow a car from a local dealership to pick him up and bring him to Benmatt corporate headquarters. In return, the founder made a nameplate to go on the back of the car, and the dealership became the first of its kind to have a nameplate on one of their cars.
"From there we started thinking about attacking the automotive industry and talking to dealerships about branding the back of a car, like the [original equipment manufacturer]," Vespa said.
Benmatt has been an operating subsidiary of LaFrance Corp. since 1953. The industrial side of LaFrance makes promotional products for companies like Kitchen Aid, Oakley, Beats headphones and Coach pocketbooks.
"We take the same approach into the automotive dealerships," Vespa said. "But, we don't approach the market like a salesman. We approach it like a consultant. We help our customers drive brand strength."