Bayou Automotive increases community outreach

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, May 11, 2022

LAPLACE — In the midst of a major renovation project in LaPlace, Bayou Automotive Group is moving full steam ahead with efforts to give back to the community.

The company’s community investment has continued to grow each year since the acquisition of the Ford dealership on Belle Terre Boulevard in March 2018. Last year, Bayou Automotive offered a $500 monetary award and a $500 voucher toward a vehicle purchase to five St. John the Baptist Parish high schools.

This year, the scholarship program has expanded to include all of the high schools in St. Charles, St. John and St. James parishes. Nine students are being surprised with a $750 scholarship in addition to a $2,500 voucher toward the purchase of any Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep or Ram vehicle from Bayou Automotive.

Scholarship presentations began recently at Destrehan and Hahnville High School. Quincy McGruffy of Hahnville High School plans to attend Iowa Wesleyan to study financial business management. Judith Navarro of Destrehan High School will study elementary teaching or accounting at the University of New Orleans, and she looks forward to using the Bayou Automotive voucher to purchase a car for college.

The scholarships were awarded on the criteria of GPA, community involvement and school activities. Remaining scholarship recipients at East St. John, West St. John, the STEM Magnet Program, Riverside Academy, St. Charles Catholic, Lutcher and St. James will be named this month.

Bayou Automotive’s total scholarship commitment expanded from $5,000 in 2021 to more than $29,000 in 2022.

“We could have done scholarships in a bigger market like New Orleans or Baton Rouge, but it’s a much better investment when you invest locally,” said Bayou Automotive co-owner Ben Gaiennie.

Outside sales manager Robert Tamplain said the scholarship program is one way Bayou Automotive is building a presence in the community.

“I’ve always believed that investing in our children is investing in our future. It’s a win-win,” Tamplain said. “We are giving back to a community that has given to us. They are why we are here. They are why we are growing.”

Over the past four years, Bayou Automotive has also sponsored golf tournaments, events for local churches, teacher appreciation, and school/community festivals.

Last fall, Bayou Automotive partnered with the Southeast Louisiana Food Pet Pantry for a drive-thru event that distributed approximately 3,000 pounds of pet food in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

The company maintains active membership in several community and business organizations, including the LaPlace Branch of Business 2 Business Referral Group, the River Region Chamber of Commerce, the St. John Business Association and the LaPlace Rotary Club. Recently, Bayou Automotive has participated in the founding of the Kiwanis Club of the Tri-Parishes to provide opportunities to local children.

Bayou Automotive remains one of the fastest-growing dealerships in Louisiana. After acquiring the Ford building in 2018, it took only one year to become the fastest-growing Ford dealership in the Southern region encompassing Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and parts of Tennessee. What began with approximately 30 vehicle sales per month in 2018 skyrocketed to 150 sales per month by early 2022 despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida.

Bayou Automotive has also operated the Nissan dealership in New Orleans since December 2019. Co-owners Ben Gaiennie and Brian Stewart committed to renovating the Belle Terre location to accommodate the company’s growing footprint in LaPlace, which included the acquisition of the neighboring Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram dealership on August 26, 2021.

Hurricane struck only three days later, but even a category four storm couldn’t put a damper on Bayou Automotive’s vision for the future.

Bayou Automotive has started the massive undertaking of renovating three buildings on the premises. The Chrysler dealership will expand from 15,000 square feet to 28,000 square feet, and the 26-year-old Ford dealership will double in size from 20,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet to better meet the needs of the community.

The nearby Ford Express building is currently under construction and will be complete within a month, allowing work to begin on the Chrysler dealership this summer. All buildings will be fully remodeled by Christmas 2023, and Gaiennie looks forward to sharing more details about what customers can expect as the process unfolds.

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