In the Company of Dogs is an occasional column that appears in The New Barker dog magazine that tells the story of a family-owned Florida company improving the lives of dogs. In the spring issue of The New Barker dog magazine, Mastro Subaru was featured.
The story of Mastro Subaru is the Great American Dream. Peter Mastro, Sr. emigrated from a small town in Italy more than 40 years ago. He opened a Volkswagen repair shop that soon became well-established with a good reputation for customer service. Peter was the kind of person who could see opportunities where others did not. While mainstream America chuckled at the thought of small cars, Peter bought a franchise for a then-unknown Japanese car called Subaru. When the oil crisis of the 1970’s hit, the future of Mastro Subaru was set. Growing up, brothers Pete and Stephen learned the value of customer service early on from their father.
“When we were younger, we would clean cars, sweep the lot and even cleaned parts,” recalls Pete. “Whenever we had a day off from school, our father would bring us to work with him.”
“By fifth grade, we were the detailing department of the dealership,” adds Stephen. As they grew older, the brothers worked throughout the dealership in various departments. Stephen spent most of his time in sales, while Pete worked in service and parts. When their father became ill in 1990, the two sons took over the task of running the family business. Today, Mastro Subaru is the highest volume Subaru dealer in Florida. In October 2007, a second dealership was opened in Sanford after the brothers found that many of their customers were traveling from Central Florida for both sales and service. At both locations, Pete oversees service and parts, Stephen is responsible for sales, and Stephanie (Stephen’s wife), handles finances and marketing. The family continues to grow the business, now the number one Subaru auto group in the South.
Steadfast animal lovers and community advocates, the Mastro family is very involved with the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and the SPCA of Central Florida. Several years ago, with the economy in a tailspin, adoptions at the shelters were dramatically decreasing, while owner-surrenders were increasing. It was the perfect storm of a downward spiral: as more people lost their jobs and/or homes, many were unable to care for their pets, and/or find rental homes that would allow them.
“Six years ago, just before the holidays, we decided to do something a little different with our holiday television commercials,” said Stephanie Mastro. “We advertised that we would cover a family’s pet adoption fees when they purchased a car from our dealerships.” The program was such a success that it has become a holiday tradition. It also inspired Mastro Subaru in Tampa to dedicate one Saturday a month for an adoption event. Volunteers from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay bring adoptable cats and dogs, which always draws a big happy crowd.
“The really cool thing is that the animals we use in the holiday commercials are never our own. We always use cats and dogs from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. Within two days of the commercials airing, the animals are always adopted,” said Stephanie. “And after the commercials air, adoptions at the shelter always double,” she added. Stephanie estimates that about 1,000 dogs and cats have been adopted over the last six years since they’ve implemented the monthly adoption events.
“This has been an endeavor that the whole Mastro family has embraced, including our extended family of customers and employees,” said Stephanie. “When the economy tanked, we saw what was happening in our communities. We saw people turning in their pets, or finding that they couldn’t afford to buy food for them. We knew we wanted to do something to help out and make a difference,” added Stephanie, who also sits on the advisory board for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
In addition to the monthly adoption events, the dealership holds annual food drives, encouraging customers and the community at large to bring in pet food, which is then transported and donated to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and the SPCA Of Central Florida from its Sanford location.
“What we have is a true family operation,” said Stephen. “We’re proud of that, and take it very seriously. We have so many long-term employees and customers who have seen us grow up. They are our family, and continue to be our reason to come to work every day.”
About Mastro Subaru:
Mastro Subaru was the first Subaru Signature Facility in Florida, and the first to be re-certified as a Stellar Performance Dealer, the highest recognition for excellence from Subaru. It’s no coincidence that Subaru has been big supporters of animal advocacy and the ASPCA. 75% of all Subaru owners have dogs. To watch the Dogs Tested, Dogs Approved television campaign, visit http://www.MastroSubaru.com and click onto “Get the Full Canine Experience.” The interactive fun includes getting a Florida Driver’s License for your dog (because, of course, every dog needs one), and putting your dog’s photo in a Subaru.
The Mastro Family,including their pets: Pete, Darlene, Nicholas, Jovanna and Max Mastro have a cat named Macy that they adopted from St. Francis Society Animal Rescue, Tampa, and a dog, Sam. Lisa Mastro and her son JP have a Labradoodle named Desiree. Stephanie, Stephen, Stephano and Sophia Mastro live with Rocco, Sasha, Romeo and Dolce, all dogs, and a cat, Donatello from St. Francis. “Rocco is our most recent adoption from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay,” said Stephanie. And mom, Jaye Mastro has two dogs, Picasso and Monet. Mastro Subaru 6402 West Hillsborough Avenue Tampa 813.884.7513 411 South Orlando Drive, Sanford 321.206.1792 http://www.MastroSubaru.com and http://www.MastroAutoGroup.com