MUSIC IS ALIVE IN VAN WERT! Cars & Superstars
MUSIC IS ALIVE IN VAN WERT!
Cars & Superstars
- by Tafi Stober
The unknown is oft where opportunity waits. We revere the mighty pillars of our Van Wert musical heritage that despite the unknown, they gave. Practical progressives like Gaylord and Eliza Saltzgaber, Edna Evans, and John Alspach all made visionary donations through the Van Wert County Foundation that continue to make performing arts possible in Van Wert County today. The faces behind the music personify our past and also tell the tale of a very dynamic present. Modern day heroes are still writing the story of explosive arts growth in Van Wert County. The unknown is quite intriguing in its untold tale of purpose and impact. The unknown awaits the wild pursuit of a dream and then opens its door wide. One such dreamer, Andy Czajkowski, did not set out in life to make monumental impact in Van Wert County, Ohio, but his pursuits landed him among us and he's been a forward force for progress and community prosperity ever since.
Andy Czajkowski, Co-Owner and President of Statewide Ford Lincoln since 1993, has been a supporter of the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation since it's inception in 2005. When the Niswonger Performing Arts Center was yet to become reality, Andy and his family personally pledged naming rights within the grand structure. In 2010, Statewide Ford Lincoln become the very first Season Sponsor. That partnership has commanded a position of prominence as they have remained a Season Sponsor since 2010 through the present Season which will Unveil this Wednesday, June 5 at noon. What this commitment means to the region is access to quality performers at a price that people can afford. It's a Big Deal!
From Cars to Superstars, this community ambassador began his journey 57 years ago in Detroit, Michigan. From the beginning, Andy knew he wanted to own a business. "I wish my parents had owned a business of anything. It would have helped me achieve my goals all that much quicker," states Andy. "A school friend and I envisioned a boat rental that never reached fruition but discussing business applications and modeling concepts always demanded real estate in my mind and conversations." His entrepreneurial dreams were furthered when working for a landscaping-garden store as a teenager. A chance opportunity through a customer service interaction led him to meet a major car dealer owner. Not a surprise for a young man with a mind full of dreams, the passion to pursue them, and eyes wide open to opportunity. For young Andy Czajkowski, of the unknown there was no fear. He hung up his landscaping gig and tabled his books for his desire to buy a new car franchise. After gaining valuable experience at the dealership in Michigan and then in New Jersey, Andy's opportunity became available through a dealers association connection. There was a Ford dealership for sale in Van Wert, Ohio.
Statewide Ford, Andy Czajkowski and his family became part of the Van Wert County story in 1993. Since that time, Andy's original dream "to own something to grow something" has manifested in every aspect of his life and is a hallmark of his relationships. When asked how he became an advocate for the arts, Andy replied, "The arts are important because community is important. Community benefit is more valuable than my personal interests. Scott Niswonger painted a picture of economic development that made sense. I bought into that vision." Andy, along with Chuck and Karen Koch were the first Co-Chairs of the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation. Andy believes the future of Van Wert County is at a crucial time of growth. "We are poised on the bubble of some really good things that will create an upper trajectory of steady increases in population and prosperity. We must continue to grow." The performing arts are a part of that growth. "When people look at Van Wert, they are attracted by our quality of life-style. Look at the quality of a place in terms of health care, school systems, and cost of living - and when you do, Van Wert is at the top. We have big name entertainment and a facility that no town our size should have." states Czajkowski.
The unlikely journey from cars to superstars inspires, because despite an affinity for cars, Andy's focus has always been on the person. We recognize Andy, a face behind the music, and pay honor to him for the role he has played in helping Van Wert carve out a musical niche in Northwest Ohio that serves a purpose greater than our own. The unknown beckons with a song of humanity.