The car industry is reeling. Dealers are closing left and right. And Toyota, Volkswagen and Hyundai dealer David Maus lands an endorsement deal with sportswear giant adidas?
Here's the story behind why the local television personality known for his signature six-shooter gesture to the camera at the end of his ads has been sporting adidas shirts for the past few months.
"I agreed to wear their stuff on television to help promote them," Maus told me.
His employees also wear the brand on his car lots.
In exchange, adidas provides free and heavily discounted clothing and gear to his annual charity golf tournament to support the David Maus Foundation, which helps sick children and their families.
"All I ask them to do for me is to make sure we can get the best deals we can get," he said. "I wouldn't take any money to wear somebody's clothing. To me, it's all about what they can do to lower our costs for the foundation."
The golf tournament featuring former athletes such as Nick Anderson, Barry Larkin and Davey Johnson raised about $125,000 this year to help causes such as Ronald McDonald houses and the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation.
Adidas gets its share of exposure out of the deal.
It's hard to avoid Maus' on-air mug. He has managed to stay on television about as much as he was during the boom times earlier this decade, thanks to recession-stimulated drops in ad prices. (He has his own studio at his Sanford Toyota dealership to film his spots.)
"It's not like it was two years ago," he said of recent sales. "But we're still doing OK. Do I see it coming back and being on fire? No. But do I see it steadily growing again? Yes."
His agreement with the local adidas representative isn't ironclad. He doesn't have to wear the shirt every time he's on television. But to Maus, it's about relationships and loyalty.
"I figure I'll support those who support me," he said.
Giving in good times — and badKeeping with the theme of sports, business and charities, AirTran Airways announced a partnership Thursday with former Gator Danny Wuerffel's Desire Street Ministries.
Though AirTran is based in Orlando, its hub is Atlanta, where Wuerffel relocated the organization about a year ago from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The airline gave the ministry, which focuses on revitalizing impoverished neighborhoods, $15,000 and 40 tickets to fly a group of children from Atlanta to Orlando on Thursday to visit Walt Disney World. The group was joined by more children from nearby Lakeland.
"It's really hard to get donations in this economy," Wuerffel told me. "For most [of the kids] it's their first time ever to Disney and their first time ever on an airplane."
AirTran Chief Executive Officer Bob Fornaro said he expects it will be two years before the airline recovers financially from a downturn that he described as worse than the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
"Times are tough, but you can't completely retrench because times are tough in these communities as well," he said.
Where is stimulus money? Who knowsCurious where federal stimulus money is going in Florida? A report out this week by a labor-oriented group that follows economic-development issues confirms just how hard it is to find out.
The group, Good Jobs First, scored Florida in 34th place (tied with 12 other states) in an assessment of how transparent its Web site — flarecovery.com — is when it comes to information on the private companies getting the money, how many jobs are created, the status of the project and other factors.
Beth Kassab can be reached at bkassab@ orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5448. Read her blog at orlandosentinel.com/ thebottomline.
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