Car Salesman of the Old School Shifts to Green Power

Jack Fitzgerald will power his Montgomery County car lots with wind. The EPA has recognized his efforts.
Jack Fitzgerald will power his Montgomery County car lots with wind. The EPA has recognized his efforts. (By Lois Raimondo -- The Washington Post)

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By Michael S. Rosenwald
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Jack Fitzgerald, a Montgomery County car dealer who has been selling automobiles since the days of the '57 Chevy, when leaded gas was good and exhaust was a promotion point (dual-exhaust!), marked the occasion by taking a significant step in his green transformation.

The 71-year-old owner of Fitzgerald Auto Malls said yesterday that his Maryland dealerships were converting to 100 percent wind power for electricity.

In making the announcement, Fitzgerald declared that this green stuff was easy: "Somebody asked me the other day, 'Jack, do you think of yourself as an environmentalist?' I think of myself as a used-car salesman, but if I'm going across my used-car lot and I see a piece of trash and I pick it up and put it in the can -- put it in the right can -- then I'm an environmentalist."

At a ceremony at one of his dealerships on Rockville Pike, Fitzgerald was lauded by elected officials, industry leaders and environmentalists for his efforts, which also include recycling nearly 64 percent of his company's waste. The Environmental Protection Agency named his business a Green Power Partner, the first such designation for a U.S. dealership.

But there was a big question, weighing about 7,000 pounds, hanging over all the excitement: Will Fitzgerald still sell 13-miles-per-gallon Cadillac Escalades?

Yes.

"We can't tell customers what's best for them," he said in an interview. "They tell us what's best for them."


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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