Every Tucsonan knows his Midwest accent. His face is one of the city’s most recognizable, prevalent in televised and print advertising. His numerous car dealerships throughout Arizona and California rank as the 47th largest dealer chain in America.
But where Jim Click has found obvious success in the automotive industry, he hasn’t forgotten the values he holds closest-ones of generosity and selflessness, instilled in him at a young age by two of the most influential people of his life.
In 1971, Click partnered with his great uncle Holmes Paul Tuttle, buying into Pueblo Ford in Tucson, and in the meantime learning a valuable lesson.
“He loved Tucson,” said Click. “He said, ‘Son, I want you to be involved in the chamber, I want you to be involved in the community. As an owner, we have responsibilities to the people who work for us, but you have responsibility to give back to your community. My dad had that same attitude. These two men mentored me for much of my life.”
Click took their advice in a big way, and in their wake, has become one of the city’s most charitable leaders.
Early on, Click became involved in education assistance, offering a scholarship program at the University of Arizona and becoming a board member for Junior Achievement, a program where high school students create a business model.
“I raised a tremendous amount of money and also gave a lot of money to Junior Achievement, because I thought it was important to teach young people about free enterprise, and that business is good,” said Click.
Click’s scholarship program at the university has since morphed into a larger scale operation that benefits his employees’ families.
“Any employee that has worked for us for five years or more receives $4,000 per year per child for college education assistance,” said Click.
Click later became the chairman of the Annual Gifts Committee at St. Joseph’s Hospital where his son was born, and from there, one thing kept leading to another. Click joined the President’s Club at the University of Arizona, contributed generously to Casa de Los Ninos and Davis Monthan Air Force Base, and by the late 80’s, helped raise several million dollars for Salpointe High School.
Recently, the Click family made a significant contribution to the Reid Park Zoo’s “Expedition Tanzania” expansion to house five new elephants, and they have given continuous support for disability organizations such as Linkages.
“You can’t ask people to give money if you haven’t given first,” said Click. “People want to help, they just need to be asked.”
Though the list of organizations of which the Click has contributed is far too long to list, his reasoning for doing so is rather simple.
“This community has been good to our family, and we’re just trying to be good back,” he said.
But Click, known for his Republican political stance, is fearful that success might soon be harder to come by for others if nothing changes at the capital.
“Along the way, we’ve given a lot to- I shouldn’t say politics- but to what I think is to the free enterprise system for this country,” he said. “Why is Jim Click successful? What is it? It’s a system that allows someone who was just a car salesman rise to be a sales manager, a dealer-owner, and lets other people become dealer-owners. It’s a hell of a system, and it’s important for businesspeople to give back to that system.”
Click has donated to the campaigns of Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., and Jim Kolbe, among other candidates.
Still, Click hasn’t let his political leaning become divisive. Following the Jan. 8 mass shooting, Click donated $50,000 to Democrat Ron Barber’s Fund for Civility, Respect, and Understanding, aimed at preventing school bullying and raising mental health awareness.
Truth be told, Click’s generosity is never discriminatory.
“I look at every single request that comes to my desk,” he said.
The largest single gift Click has given away was to San Miguel Catholic High School, a member of the Cristo Rey Network, which provides a work-study program to provide affordable Catholic education to low-income families.
Click’s donation was in excess of $3 million, and he helped raise another $12 million to bring the school to Tucson.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to make a difference in a community where I’ve spent much of my life,” said Click. “It’s just so much fun to help.”
Click’s generosity also extends to his employees, who Click refers to instead as “teammates.”
“We just let them know how important they are, that it’s not the product or the facilities, it’s the people who make the difference,” he said.
Jim Click is married to Vicki Click. Together they have two children, Chris and Carrie.
A list of the organizations Click and his family are involved in can be found at http://www.jimclickcommunity.com/giving.html.