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"Many dealerships claim they have the best prices or best selection," nominee Kaminsky has said. "To break through the clutter, we've chosen to do something different. LEED certification is one part of a larger strategy to brand our business."
In 2009, Kaminsky's family dealership decided to "go green" with its new building on the site of a former Home Depot. The store features low-water fixtures, bamboo flooring and uses reclaimed car-wash water, among other sustainable practices that earned certification at the silver level in the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Kaminsky, a 1991 graduate of California's Loyola High School of Los Angeles, who earned a B.A. in history from the University of Southern California, also in Los Angeles, added, "It fits with our ‘EC' logo, which stands for El Cajon as well as Environmentally Conscious."
Kaminsky has worked at the family's store since it was founded. "I've worked every summer since 1990 and began fulltime work upon graduating in 1996," he said. "During that time, I've sat in almost every seat within the store." Today, he runs the business with his brother, Gary.
"I can still remember one of the first car sales I made," Kaminsky said. "I helped out a family that really needed a new car, but didn't have the credit to get one. I pushed really hard with our team to get them approved for a car loan. I drove the new truck to their apartment and everyone from their building was outside greeting them and telling them how much they loved the new truck. The family was very happy and grateful to me, but I was even more grateful to be a part of a special moment in their lives."
His most meaningful award is earning the San Diego Better Business Bureau's Torch Award for workplace ethics. Kaminsky noted, "We were the only car dealership that received the award, showing that all the changes we made, the effort and hard work we put forth made a difference in the way our customers viewed the automotive industry."
The dealership has been very active in supporting community organizations and charities, from hosting blood drives to sponsoring concerts. In keeping with its low carbon footprint, for every car sold, El Cajon Toyota plants a tree through fire relief projects, which rebuild forests after wildfires. Kaminsky also supports Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, which provides grants to a variety of worthy groups, and serves on the corporate board of directors for the YMCA. "It is rewarding to see the results of our fundraising efforts to provide continued benefits to so many children."
Kaminsky was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Dean B. Mansfield, president of the New Car Dealers Association San Diego County. He and his wife, Lynde, have four children.