Lyon-Waugh Auto Group Partners with ECCF to Make Charitable Giving Easier
When Warren Waugh and Bud Lyon opened BMW of Peabody in 1994, they made a pact.
“We both agreed that we would give back to the community,” said Waugh. “It’s a way of communicating who we are and what we believe in.”
Lyon passed away in 2012, but that original agreement, made by two business partners nearly 30 years ago, has endured. Today, Lyon-Waugh Auto Group supports a multitude of charitable causes and nonprofit organizations right here in Essex County – and beyond.
And Essex County Community Foundation is proud to have been chosen as the corporation’s philanthropic partner in this work. ECCF is now home to two Lyon-Waugh philanthropic funds that help the collection of luxury auto dealerships streamline their corporate giving.
The first fund, as it so happens, involves tuna.
It all started with a Christmas dinner conversation nearly a decade ago about the revival of an old tuna fishing tournament that took place in Gloucester in the 1960s and 1970s. Naturally, being an avid angler, Waugh told tournament founders Drew Hale and Rob Bouley to count him in, and they hosted their first tournament, a modest affair attracting about 30 boats, with proceeds going to the Boston Bruins Charitable Foundation.
This year would have marked the ninth year of the Bluefin Blowout, which has become a premier summer event in Gloucester, attracting fishermen – and onlookers – from all over the region. Over the years, Waugh – with help from Lyon-Waugh marketing guru Cidalia Schwartz – has steadily grown the event, which last year included a pre-tournament fundraiser dinner as well. Though the 2020 tournament was cancelled this year due to COVID, the 2019 event raised $366,000, money that was donated to the Alzheimer’s Association, an organization that became near and dear to Waugh’s heart after watching his wife battle early-onset dementia. Liz Waugh passed away in June 2018.
Waugh speaks in earnest about the number of people he’s met who have been touched by dementia or Alzheimer’s in some way and about the caliber of professionals who helped care for his wife in her final years.
“The one thing about the disease is those relationships you make,” said Waugh. “There’s something about the disease that’s just a little bit different.”
In the last few years, the Bluefin Blowout has raised a total of nearly $600,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association. (Waugh vows that the tournament will be back bigger and better than ever in 2021 with a goal of reaching $1,000,000 raised for the organization.) But fundraising on that scale sometimes requires backup. So, in FY20, Waugh decided to move the Bluefin Blowout to a fund at ECCF.
“It needed a good home,” said Waugh. “I don’t know a lot about the intricacies, about proper accounting and tax laws. I want to do things right. ECCF has made it simple. It just makes sense.”
At the same time Bluefin Blowout joined the ECCF family of funds, Lyon-Waugh Auto Group also opened a separate Corporate Fund with the Foundation to help streamline their additional charitable giving.
“From the get-go, ECCF has been so helpful with getting us set up,” added Schwartz. “We really appreciate what the Foundation has done to help make our charitable giving easier.”
For decades, Lyon-Waugh has made impactful donations to a wide variety of causes and organizations, including local YMCAs, schools, educational nonprofits, medical institutions, workforce development programs, hunger and social service organizations and many more.
“I don’t say no to a lot,” Waugh said with a laugh.
Giving back is not only good for business, he added, but continuing to fulfill that philanthropic promise made decades ago, well, it’s just the right thing to do.
“Giving back is important to our employees and important to our communities,” Waugh said. “It makes me feel great about going to work each day and working really hard to make a difference.”