By: Jen Russon
So many cars on the road in South Florida come from Al Hendrickson Toyota on Sample Road in Coconut Creek. The dealership has been a hallmark of local friendly business since 1989, when Al Hendrickson Sr. and his son, Al Jr. began their father and son enterprise. The pair are known for valuing every customer, and making the rounds to greet them in their store.
Associates are also treated like family, and many have benefited from the generosity of the owners. “Al Cares,” is one of their company slogans and, in September, it was proven true.
One evening, Al Jr.’s path crossed with a young valet named Brontz Alexis, whose bright smile masked an all too familiar hardship: car trouble.
Alexis was having a lot of maintenance issues with his 2007 Volvo, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to show up to his job at the Coral Springs Marriott Hotel. He hardly knew his luck was about to change when a white 4Runner pulled up to the hotel entrance.
Alexis had been parking cars for guests while the International Italian Festival was taking place. No doubt, he noticed all the shiny, high-end vehicles; in fact, he complimented the driver of the 4Runner as soon as he pulled up.
The driver was none other than Al Hendrickson Jr.
Alexis didn’t recognize him, but it didn’t matter. Hendrickson got the same treatment as anyone else crossing the young valet’s path: a great big welcoming smile, and some friendly small talk.
“Welcome to the Marriott – that’s a great car,” Alexis said.
“Thanks,” said Hendrickson, who inquired what kind of wheels the valet had.
Alexis candidly told him that he was none too excited about his broken Volvo. It had been out of commission for eight long days, escalating his stress level. He was afraid his transportation issues might cost him his job.
That’s when the wheels started turning in Hendrickson’s generous head. He couldn’t stop thinking about the valet during the event.
“I sensed a special need,” Hendrickson later remarked.
He said he felt “a pounding in his heart” to do something for Alexis. Hendrickson, who owns 100 percent of the Toyota dealership, can afford to follow his heart.
Words from his past business dealings bare this out.
“We’ve always operated as if we’re in the people business, not the car business,” Hendrickson has said.
Al Hendrickson Toyota sells more tires and batteries than any other Toyota dealer in the Southeastern U.S., and is the top seller of new Toyotas in Palm and Broward counties.
It made sense that Hendrickson would be invited on the Marriott stage to say a few words at the Italian Festival; so, after giving his appreciation to the event coordinator, Gladys Castro and Marriott staff, he called his valet, Brontz Alexis, up to the stage.
To the surprise and delight of the audience, Hendrickson invited the young man to come to his dealership and pick out a 2019 Toyota Corolla of his choice.
Amazed, grateful and sure that God had answered his prayers, Alexis received his award and then went back to work.
One of the people to bear witness to his good fortune, the event coordinator’s daughter, Jennifer Castro, went out to congratulate the valet.
Castro said she was in awe of what just happened, and wanted to meet Alexis, and learn more about his story.
He told Jennifer that he had been praying every night over the problems he was having with his car, and that this gift, which included gift taxes, was a blessing indeed.
Hendrickson said it was his pleasure, adding, “Brontz is a nice young man, who is excited and motivated enough to achieve a great future. Everyday is an opportunity for a great adventure.”
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.