Her father, Richard (Dick) Loehr, Founder of Team National, lost his 10-year battle with cancer in 2008. But to Angela Loehr Chrysler, President and CEO, he was the embodiment of a winner. When reflecting on the accomplishments of his life, Chrysler’s voice is filled with admiration and pride at being able to call him Dad. As she goes through his inspiring list of achievements, one thing that stands out is Loehr’s desire to improve the lives of others.
He started his adventurous career as a drag racecar driver, ultimately becoming the captain of the Ford Drag Race Team from 1961 to 1971. “It was fun for him, but when Ford left drag racing, so did Dad,” Chrysler says. Although Ford offered Loehr a car dealership out of state, he made the decision to pass on the offer in order for his family to avoid being uprooted. “We lived in Michigan and there weren’t any Ford dealerships available in our area,” Chrysler says. Instead, Loehr started his own dealership and an RV lot. He built them concurrently, realizing success with both ventures. He then opened a second car dealership and it became one of the largest in Kalamazoo. “His dealerships became home to nine Chrysler franchises and employed hundreds of people,” Chrysler says.
In addition to serving on multiple boards as president, including the New Car Dealers Association, the Jeep Ad Council, the Chrysler Ad Council, and the Dealer Council of American Motors, Loehr also participated in raising money for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. Through his Chrysler dealerships, he had met then President and CEO of Chrysler, Lee Iacocca—also an engineer of the Ford Mustang—who involved him in the project. Loehr was an active member of his community and served as President of the Kalamazoo American Cancer Chapter. But in 1990 the Loehr family was ready for a change and sold the dealerships in order to move to Florida.
Of course, being the man he was, Loehr had no intention of stopping and went on to own and operate nine fast-food franchises in the south Florida area. “He was able to employ hundreds of people through the restaurants,” Chrysler says. “Dad looked at it as a way to help others in need of a job.”
The Making of a Team
In 1997 Loehr wanted to start a company that would act as a way for people to both save money and make money. He put together a business plan that did just that. It was a membership program that enabled individuals to benefit from group discounts as well as earn income through sales of the memberships. The company was called Nationwide. “In 1999, he purchased a small direct selling business, merged it with his company and called the union Team National,” Chrysler says. “He valued what he had experienced being part of a team during his racing years and wanted to perpetuate that team spirit within the company.”
“He [Dick Loehr, Founder of Team National] valued what he had experienced being part of a team during his racing years and wanted to perpetuate that team spirit within the company.”
—Angela Loehr Chrysler, President and CEO
Fifteen years later, Team National has over 300,000 Independent Marketing Directors (IMDs) in the United States. In 2000, Chrysler joined the company and was handed the reins of President and CEO by her father in 2005. “He then worked as Chairman until his death in 2008,” Chrysler says. “Because of the treatment that he chose for his disease, the last years of his life were more quality than they could have been.” Chrysler says her daughter, Sydney, although very young, cherished her times with Grandpa during his last year and lives with priceless memories of their times together.
The Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) gave Loehr choices that he didn’t otherwise find, combining both traditional and nontraditional treatments. “When others were giving him a death sentence, CTCA offered him hope,” Chrysler says. “Their perspective matched the spirit and attitude my father had demonstrated throughout his life and was a welcome relief to our family.” As a result, some of the funds that are now raised through Team National are donated to Gateway for Cancer Research, which funds innovative cancer research and partners with CTCA.
Team National representatives participated in the BikersBash—one of the largest gatherings of motorcyclists in the Southeast—with host Richie Sambora (center) of Bon Jovi and singer-songwriter Richie Supa to raise funds for children in need.
Angela Loehr Chrysler (left) has continued Team National’s tradition of selling raffle tickets for various items at its annual convention with the money going to charity.
Team National provides membership savings with a wide variety of products and services in over 20 different industries including factory direct pricing in home furnishings.
Offering Hope Through Understanding
As early as 2001, just two years into their existence, Team National was giving back. “We started a program that we call Charities of Choice,” Chrysler explains. “In addition to Gateway for Cancer, we have chosen several organizations to support regularly, and they all have special meaning to us.”
The first recipient of Team National’s philanthropic efforts was the Great Lakes Burn Camp. They are an organization dedicated to promoting healing, confidence and general well-being to burn-injured children ages 7 to 17. “When I was 2 years old, I suffered a burn accident,” Chrysler says. “I was wearing a fluffy dress, discovered a lighter and set the dress on fire.” As a child burn survivor, Chrysler is well aware of the physical and emotional challenges such children face. She feels blessed to have had the parents she did. “They were wise in how they handled my emotional recovery,” Chrysler says. “When the doctor told them it would be best for me to cover the scarred area with clothing, my mother insisted that I dress normally, learn to live with the scars at a young age and simply be who I was.”
When Chrysler was given the opportunity to volunteer during several summers at the burn camp, she was able to share the wisdom she had learned with the young people in attendance. One girl, in particular, approached Chrysler during an activity and asked her why she was wearing a tank top. “Most of my scars are on the shoulder and chest area and are visible while wearing summer tops,” she says. “I responded by asking her why she was wearing jeans in such hot weather.” The young teen, whose scars were mainly on her legs, had always been taught to cover them. Chrysler was able to encourage her to be herself. “It’s OK to look different,” she told the girl. “Everyone looks different.”
According to Chrysler, the counselors at the camp feel that teaching children to cover their scars—as is commonly encouraged by doctors—promotes the thinking that the scars are bad, thus making the children feel inferior. She adds that a psychiatrist who witnessed the exchange between Chrysler and the young girl recognized the impact Chrysler was making on the camp attendees and was grateful for her willingness to volunteer her time. “The camp is a special place for young people to be with others who understand and accept them just as they are,” Chrysler says. “And the great thing is, due to the generosity of donors, the kids are able to attend for free.” Team National is proud to be among those who give hope to those facing one of life’s difficult challenges.
Catch Them While They’re Young
Chrysler has also volunteered at the Broward County Boys & Girls Club—another recipient of Charities of Choice funds. “I was able to teach a class to some of the teens on the benefits and pitfalls of credit cards,” Chrysler says. “The club desires to teach the kids to be responsible citizens and the teens are starting to receive credit card applications in the mail. It’s important that they receive training on the proper use of credit and finances in general.”
During the Christmas season, Team National is busy participating in Christmas activities for the children through the club. They have done toy drives, specific gift-giving to kids who might not otherwise receive gifts for Christmas, and offered their Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. headquarters as a toy-drop location. “Every year we hold a toy drive for the club. We even ask the leadership coming to Florida for our annual incentive cruise to pack a toy and bring it to the toy drop,” Chrysler says. “We then deliver the toys to the club.”
In 2011, the IMDs participated in the BikersBash, one of the largest gatherings of motorcyclists in the Southeast, who assemble to donate money and raise funds for the club and the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. “It was hosted by Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi and singer-songwriter Richie Supa. They provided a special performance for the event,” Chrysler says. “We were invited to ride bikes as VIPs and joined the bikers in handing out toys to the children.” She adds that one grateful mother was in tears as she watched her daughter receive her very first doll.
“Team National is making a positive difference in the lives of thousands of at-risk children. … Because they care, our children are living in a better world.”
—Matt Organ, Executive Vice President, Broward County Boys & Girls Club
In January of this year, Team National came through once again for the more than 12,000 children who benefit from the programs of the Broward County Boys & Girls Club by donating $25,000 to the organization. Matt Organ, Executive Vice President of the club, says, “Team National is making a positive difference in the lives of thousands of at-risk children. We cannot thank them enough for all they have done for youth in need. Because they care, our children are living in a better world.”
As a result of Hurricane Katrina, Feed The Children (FTC) was added to the list of Charities of Choice in 2005. The Team National leadership was looking for a way to help the victims of that natural disaster and FTC seemed the logical choice. According to its website, FTC is an international relief program founded in 1979 that offers assistance to individuals, children and families who find themselves in need due to natural disaster, famine, war or poverty. FTC’s support is from corporations and individuals and it is not government funded. The program is driven by its vision of a world where no child or family goes to bed hungry. Team National’s core belief of helping others in need goes hand in hand with that vision, and the company has donated financially to the organization regularly since 2005. “At times, we have received notification from FTC that our contributions were sufficient to fill entire 18-wheelers full of food for the needy,” Chrysler says.
The Broward County Humane Society also benefits from the generosity of Team National. Both the Humane Society and the Boys & Girls Club were personal favorites of the Loehr family, and the company has stepped in to add to their charitable efforts. “We participate in their annual Walk for the Animals to raise funds for the organization,” Chrysler says. “It’s a great way for us to be involved in our local community, while helping animals that need homes.”
The funds raised for the charitable efforts of Team National come from the generous activities of the IMDs. “In the early days of our efforts, we would sell raffle tickets for various items at our annual convention and donate that money to charity,” Chrysler says. “As the conventions got bigger, so did the donations.” Although the company now holds two annual conventions and monthly regional events, they still raise funds through ticket sales for raffle items, which are donated by Team National headquarters. “We have raised a total of $1.8 million for our Charities of Choice since 2001,” Chrysler says.
A Taste for Giving
When Team National was in its infancy, Dick Loehr once had a steak at a restaurant that was “the best he’d ever tasted.” He enjoyed cooking and worked for years to recreate that mouthwatering experience, often testing his creations on the family. When he felt he had discovered the perfect blend of seasonings, he shipped large quantities of his creation to his friends and family. “We finally convinced him to market the seasoning and sell it to the masses,” Chrysler says. “But, as was his way, he only agreed to do so if 100 percent of the profit was donated to charity.” And so was born Dick Loehr’s Sensational Secret Seasoning Salt. It is yet another way to help Team National reach the world in need.
“We have raised a total of $1.8 million for our Charities of Choice since 2001.”
—Angela Loehr Chrysler
For the future, Chrysler sees the formation of an actual foundation through which to funnel charitable contributions. It will serve as a more efficient way to use the contributions and is already far into the planning stages. “Starting a foundation is not for the purpose of receiving accolades for what we do, but for efficiency,” she says. “The name we are working on for the foundation is H.O.P.E.” For Chrysler and the Team, helping other people every day is part of their DNA, and faithfully carrying on the legacy of giving, modeled to them by their founder, is as natural as breathing.
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