Esther Kang

Dealer.com embraces downtown Manhattan Beach community, culture

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Since expanding its beachfront office this August, Dealer.com is currently one of the biggest employers in downtown Manhattan Beach. PHOTO BY ESTHER KANG

Last February, a large fire consumed a two-storied building on the corner of Highland Avenue and Manhattan Beach Boulevard, leaving the structure heavily damaged and its tenants completely blindsided.

The fire, which officials later determined was arson, ended up displacing all 12 businesses in the building with roughly $1 million in damages. Just next door was Dealer.com’s new Manhattan Beach office, which had just opened that previous October.

“I got a call from the building owner explaining the fire, and I was like, ‘Oh no, we’re done,’” said Chad Beasley, vice president of the automotive internet marketing company’s West Coast operations.

Fortunately, its office remained unscathed from the flame. Little did Beasley know at the time, the tragic event would actually spur the expansion of Dealer.com’s presence in Downtown Manhattan Beach.

Roughly a month after the fire, the landlord approached them and asked if they wanted to rent the newly vacant space, Beasley said.

“We originally had no aspirations for that building,” he explained. “Out of the gate, we were just going to have 30 people here and stay relatively small.”

However, Beasley and Dealer.com’s CEO Mark Bonfigli decided to use this as an opportunity to heavily recruit local engineering talent, which they felt was tapped out at the company’s headquarters in Burlington, Vermont.

Nine months of renovations and about $2 million later, the company opened its newly expanded West Coast headquarters on the beachfront early this August, and since then, it has been ankle deep in serving the Manhattan Beach community.

“I know they’ve been very supportive of the community and they want to continue to grow,” said Jennifer Goldstein, former Chair of the executive committee at the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce.

But it hasn’t always been easy, Beasley conceded, alluding to the city’s recent centennial-related challenges. Lack of funds resulted in the cancellation of September’s centennial carnival and beach ball event, to which the company, a sponsor, had planned to invite its clients.

“We were given a sponsorship package, but not much of it came to fruition,” Beasley explained. “We’ve been happy to be involved with the centennial, but I would say there was a horrible lack of communication. We wanted to support the city in any way we could, but it’s unfortunate that we didn’t get that support back. And here we are, we’re almost in November, and I still don’t have concrete ideas of how we can fulfill our sponsorship.”

Centennial mishaps aside, the company remains undeterred in embracing the beach culture and supporting local businesses. This weekend, Dealer.com is partnering with the Beach Tennis Association to host the Subaru Hermosa Beach Open at the Hermosa Beach Pier, where local pub Simmzy’s will serve food and Massage Envy Spa will provide massages for the athletes.

About 20 of the 50 employees in the Manhattan Beach office have signed up to compete in the tournament, staying true to the company’s recognized efforts to engage its staff in good health and fitness, Beasley said.

Dealer.com’s LIFE Program offers its employees a catalogue of resources to encourage a healthy, active lifestyle, including weekly yoga and boot camp classes on the beach, company bikes and paddleboards available for rent as well as a yearly reimbursement of $300 per employee for any fitness-related expense such as a ski pass or gym membership.

“We have a good mix of that laidback beach culture but high performance,” he said. “This is overused, but it’s really a ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality.”

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