Support from community partners such as Ford make it possible for The Smith Center to present the Tony winning productions of its Broadway Las Vegas Series. Check out our interview below with Gary Ackerman, Las Vegas native and third-generation Ford dealer, about how Ford has helped shape the economy and the arts in Southern Nevada.
Please describe your family’s history and how this has influenced your work with Ford.
My grandfather began our family business on his family’s lettuce farm in 1922. I was very close to both my grandfather, George Gaudin, and to my father, Don Ackerman. I literally grew up around the business and with those two gentlemen. The legacy that they both left has shaped both my personal and business life.
I fear that the multiple-generation, family business legacies are vanishing from the American landscape and that is a great loss for our country. It is a great story, and somewhat of a secret nationally, that there are quite a few of these family legacies in our own town.
What has it been like taking over this family legacy?
It has made a huge difference having that history to step into and up to! On the one hand, the family legacy gives me and our team something to constantly lean on and cascade to our customers. On the other hand, it is something we must constantly strive to improve so we continue the journey into the next generation.
Are there similar stories with other Ford dealerships?
The other two Ford stores in our valley are another example of a multi-generation family business. They are another great Ford family and it is an honor to have them in the same market we have grown up in. I know that having the two families representing Ford for so long has made and will continue to make a lasting impact on our community.
Why did Ford choose to support The Smith Center as a sponsor?
It is an interesting story. First is the project. Being lifelong residents of Las Vegas, my father and I could just not say no when The Smith Center was being funded. The second part was even more compelling. Fred and Mary Smith (chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and his late wife, after whom The Smith Center is named) were two of my parents’ closest friends when I was growing up in the valley. They were constant companions in our neighborhood. My mother passed away way too early in life and my father told me that he just had to become a Smith Center Founder, because she would have wanted him to. A great friendship was still at work.
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