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Saturn of Naperville GM named finalist for Innovation Award

November 22, 2010
Ronald Czalbowski, general manager of Saturn of Naperville, was named one of five regional finalists in voting this spring for the third annual Dealer Innovation Award by USA Today newspaper and the NADA, the award's sponsors. The 2003 Dealer Innovation Award recognized dealers who took a leadership role in the development andimplementation of community- wide safety initiatives. Czalbowski's focus: student drivers. Czalbowski was instrumental in 1997 in launching Safe Wheels of America, a program that promotes safe driving habits to driver's education students by using partnerships among schools, businesses and communities. He now is president of the program. More than 60 CATA dealerships have hosted a Safe Wheels presentation, which includes talks and demonstrations about vehicle maintenance and safety components; safety belt use; zero-tolerance laws and what happens when police suspect those laws are violated; and tours of a dealer's body shop to see the results of accidents. That is why, Czalbowski said, a Safe Wheels presentation would be incomplete unless held at a dealership. "It presents a positive public image for dealers," he said. "The NADA really likes it." Czalbowski also noted an added benefit of hosting the program: It brings consumers to the showroom and often results in sales, either to the students or their parents. An overview of Safe Wheels is posted Rick and Rita Case, owners of Rick Case Honda- Acura-Hyundai in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., won the 2003 Dealer Innovation Award for designing and manufacturing an emergency escape hammer for drivers to break windows in cars submerged in water. The instrument, distributed free at the Cases' dealerships, also contains a small blade that can cut the seat belt to aid in escape.