Friday, September 18, 2009
Zoom's Best Friend- Tony "Truggy"
If you find yourself fighting a multi-billion dollar giant like Goliath, it is smart to have a giant on your team. There is no bigger friend than my buddy, Tony "Truggy", as we affectionately call him at ZoomAutos.com.
When Zoom was born on St. Patrick's Day, 2005, we had only slingshots to defend ourselves. Our game plan was to share our story, one day at a time and one customer at a time. One of Zoom's first private party customers called us to place an ad for a boat he was selling. Mickey loved our story and told me I needed to meet his buddy, Tony. Mickey's family had been in my hometown since it's beginning and he knew everybody. He insisted that I meet Tony Montegna.
My first meeting with Tony was like drinking three energy drinks in a row. He thought we were clever to put a magazine on his driveway and he told me the timing was right for a competitor. He told me he was building a "truggy" and Zoom was going to be his first sponsor. He wanted to put Zoom on the map and promised to get us on the front page of the "Ramona Sentinel". A framed picture from the cover of the "Sentinel" hangs in his showroom at Main Street Auto Care in Ramona. Tony's circle of friends would be all we needed to stand up to Goliath. He introduced me to his dad, Tony Sr. (may he rest in peace). Tony Sr. was the president of the "Over the Hill Gang", a group of passionate people that share a love for vintage automobiles. When Tony Sr. passed away, Zoom published a tribute to this special man who welcomed us like family.
Tony invited me to his home for a ride in his truggy. We started in his back yard where he built a special launch ramp. He told me he could fly one hundred feet in the air and top out at 170 mph. Neighbors waved to us as we "zoomed" through his hood. This pride and joy was his pet project and he spent over 100k to turn his dream into a reality.
One day, Tony showed up at Goliath's headquarters to place an ad for his Truggy. He was acting on his own as a private citizen when he entered the parking lot with his pride and joy in tow. The "suits" watching from upstairs were seething as they glared at the truggy that had become the main attraction. He pulled out some cash and told Goliath he wanted to sell his truggy. They explained that the photo would be modified before it was published because they were not willing to advertise Zoom to their customers.
I kept waiting for another "love letter" from Goliath's attorney but Tony's actions were within his rights as an individual and Zoom could not be blamed for his jokes. He followed Goliath around like a pesky mosquito that won't leave you alone when you are at a picnic. He used a blow horn to announce Zoom when Goliath was only yards away passing out their magazines. "Do you still watch black and white TV?" he asked the crowd. "Come over and see the new color photos. It's time to come into the 21st century!" His "Zoom girls" all looked like models and they dressed in Zoom uniforms as they passed out Zoom magazines to the crowds that followed Tony.
Tony's calendar quickly filled up with requests to go to car shows, special events and military appreciation days. A commander from the naval hospital walked up to Tony at his Zoom booth and asked to check out the truggy. Tony told him to jump in and they were suddenly off for another joy ride. The naval hospital was our first military location and today Zoom is a hit with all twelve military installations including four bases and all the auxiliary support centers.
Tony picked up some wounded warriors at the hospital and treated them to a car show. When the raffle winner was announced, a thankful "Over the hill gang" member turned around and split the cash with Tony's war heroes. These men gave everything to protect our freedom and now Tony was using his "toy" to show his appreciation. We are so proud to be Tony's first sponsor!
I have never met a person with the kind of creativity and passion that Tony exudes from every cell in his body. He has won many awards for his acts of kindness and I thank him for coming to Zoom in the middle of the night to rescue me when my starter failed. Tony signed us up for "Make a Wish". Perhaps some young cancer patient will get the ride of his life if he wishes to spend a day in the desert with Tony? He has already helped all of the Zoom partners to live our dreams by promoting us to his friends. I know in my heart that our two dads our looking down at all the good that Tony does in our world and both of them have smiles as big as Tony's heart.
Thank you, Tony for being the giant that stood with us as we fought our battles. You are the main ingredient in our "special forces". If any of you living in Ramona ever need your car repaired, go see Tony (and his partner Vince-another outstanding business leader in our community) and tell him the "naked cave man" sent you. The entire staff will treat you right.