Bert's Auto Parts celebrates 35 years with foundation, scholarship programme launch
From left: O'Neil Stevens, principal, Jessie Ripoll Primary; Waynette Strachan, marketing manager, Bert's Auto Parts; Bert Tomlinson Sr, CEO, Bert's Auto Parts; Tracy-Ann Tomlinson, director, Bert's Auto Parts; and Susan Moore, director of projects and social intervention at Food for the Poor, at the launch of Bert's Auto Parts Foundation on Wednesday. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

IN celebration of its 35th anniversary, Bert's Auto Parts has committed to awarding 35 scholarships to what it describes as high-potential students.

The announcement was made on Wednesday at the launch of the Bert's Auto Parts Foundation which the company will use to expand its corporate social responsibility.

Director of Bert's Auto Parts Bert Tomlinson Jr told the Jamaica Observer that the idea of the Bert's Auto Parts Foundation's scholarship programme came as the company recognises that education is long term and wants to improve the lives of youngsters.

"Bert's has been doing scholarships for years but it is one of our best kept secrets and now it is time to announce it. This year it is bigger than ever. We will be handing out 35 academic awards to high-potential students. The 35 scholarships represent our 35 years as a company and we are donating a total of $2.5 million. Our objective is to maximise their potential, help them ascend to the next level and give them the opportunity to shine and be the best they can be," Tomlinson Jr said.

Director Bert's Auto Parts, Bert Tomlinson Jr (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

He added: "One of the best ways to contribute to society is through education. If you educate the children of today, you are more likely to have a more productive society and if we have a more productive society, you have a better Jamaica for all of us. More productive adults means more gross domestic product per capita, more people trying to positively contribute to society and in turn it creates future productive people and that compounds."

Further, marketing manager at Bert's Auto Parts Waynette Strachan said the idea of a foundation sprung up due to the fact that the company spent millions of dollars over many years to improve the lives of Jamaicans, but its giving back activities were not formalised.

"The big deal is that Bert's Auto Parts is turning 35 and we recognised that we were doing a lot of philanthropic work over the years and we wanted to formalise that. It was becoming so much that we essentially were doing a lot more corporate social responsibility than the marketing department could manage. We decided to really just put it under one umbrella where we would have a governing board to manage those functions," Strachan told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday at the launch which was held at Bert's Molynes Road offices in St Andrew.

Tomlinson announced, too, that the company will continue its partnership with Food For the Poor and said it plans to stage a 5K run to raise $10 million to help build houses for needy Jamaicans.

Meanwhile, Bert Tomlinson Sr was very proud to see that a company he started with his brother 35 years ago is still in operation, selling good quality products to Jamaicans and giving back to them through charity.

"I am just a simple country boy from the hills of Trelawny. Thirty-five years ago when I started this business, I didn't know the difference between a screw and a nut but I knew I had to learn. I started this with my brother and now we have 330 employees. It is a very proud day for me to be able to formalise our giving back to society. This has always been my philosophy. This is a company that cares about its customers and its employees and that is why we set up the foundation."

BY JASON CROSS Observer staff reporter

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