The man behind Landmark Ford has a generous heart

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Rick Cram’s 1923 Ford T Bucket at the 2022 Tigard Festival of Cars.
Rick Cram’s 1923 Ford T Bucket at the 2022 Tigard Festival of Cars. Mike Antonelli/Tigard Life
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Landmark Ford has been one of the biggest sponsors of the Tigard Festival of Balloons for many years, and it also hosts the Festival of Cars presented by Landmark Ford in conjunction with the Mustang Wranglers of Oregon on the final day of the festival.

The Festival of Cars presented by Landmark Ford is a natural fit for the dealership, with the event featuring an open cruise-in with trophies in 30 classes. Spectators can expect to see roadsters, muscle cars, hot rods, classics, customs and exotics, and of course, Ford Mustangs. And in keeping with Landmark’s long history of donations to worthy causes, the beneficiary of the Festival of Cars presented by Landmark Ford is the Meals on Wheels People.

The man behind Landmark Ford is Jim Corliss, who opened the business while still a young man when opportunity knocked.

Corliss was born and raised in Tacoma, Wash., and graduated in the second graduating class of Curtis High School. After graduating from Washington State University (“Go, Cougars!”), he said that he needed a job and was hired by Ford Motor Company.

“I worked in the Seattle district for six years, including two spent in military duty,” he said. “While at Ford, I called on dealers in Portland and the Willamette Valley as their representative. Not wanting to be promoted to Detroit, I left the company to work at a retail dealership to really learn the business from a great mentor in Pasco, Wash.

“During the big recession, many stores were closing or offered for sale, and Tigard came up, and we jumped on it. I knew the area because Ford had a branch office where the current Home Depot is located.”

Patrick Collins’ 1967 Mustang Shelby GT500 at the 2022 Tigard Festival of Cars.
Patrick Collins’ 1967 Mustang Shelby GT500 at the 2022 Tigard Festival of Cars. Mike Antonelli/Tigard Life

Landmark Ford opened in August 1979 and, after 38 years, was named the 2017 Tigard Chamber Business of the Year, which recognizes a chamber business that has made in-depth contributions to the Tigard community. The chamber listed nearly two dozen organizations and programs that Landmark had supported up to that time ranging from the Broadway Rose Theatre Company to Tigard Police and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue activities to youth sports programs to non-profits to helping underprivileged youth to fundraisers for medical research.

“We get many requests, and it is often a subjective or gut decision,” Corliss said. “Being in or close to our trade area is important. We are involved with almost all the local schools with sponsorships and/or fundraisers. Team and group sponsorships are preferred to individual ones.

“We support community service clubs, and when possible, we will pay the dues for any employee who will join and participate in one. All requests are considered. In fact, we have done some national and international contributions that my wife likes to support. We were the first corporate sponsor for the Broadway Rose, made the donation out of the blue because we wanted them to stay, and fortunately, they did.”

Corliss said that he couldn’t recall anything particular growing up that turned him into a philanthropist, although he said, “My sister and I loved giving gifts to make others happy. I remember, with a smile as a 7-year-old, I walked to the drug store to buy a Mother’s Day gift with the only one dollar I had to my name and found a perfume to give Mom that was $1.

“The clerk was helpful and giving, I did not have the 4 cents for tax, so she discounted it, and I went home to make Mom happy. I don’t know if she ever used it, but the smile was worth all my money.”

TVF&R has been the beneficiary of some of Landmark’s largess, including $6,000 to support the SKID (Stop Kids Impaired Driving) program and money from a grant from the National Automobile Dealer Charitable Foundation to fund training mannequins. TVF&R recognized Landmark as one of the first businesses in its district to purchase and register an AED that saved a life.

Landmark donated $4,000 to the Tigard Police Department to help purchase a K9; it was a sponsor of the Tigard Downtown Alliance supporting downtown events; as of 2017, it had supported Little League and other youth team activities for 37 years; it contributed to Good Neighbor Center fundraising efforts as well as Tigard-Tualatin Relay for Life and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; and much more.

“We have tried to support the community and focus on both customer and employee satisfaction,” Corliss said. “The efforts have worked well, as the community has supported us, and we have a great staff of loyal, long-term employees.”

The 2023 Tigard Festival of Cars is scheduled for Sunday, June 25, and is free to attend with the Tigard Festival of Balloons admission. For more information, visit landmarkford.com.

The Tigard Festival of Balloons includes the Festival of Cars presented by Landmark Ford on the final day of the festival. Naturally, there will be Ford Mustangs in the open cruise-in, so the Mustang Wranglers of Oregon is the perfect partner to assist with the show.

According to Julie Hopper, president of the Mustang Wranglers, the club started in 1986 with 12 members and has grown to about 125 members. Some enjoy prepping their car for the weekend and taking it out to a car show. Others love to hear the rumble of the engine and go on a countryside cruise to some distant diner or beautiful Oregon site. Some have found a social community in the club and enjoy the picnics and potlucks that are hosted year-round.

“For the Festival of Cars, about half of our club volunteers at the show,” Hopper said. “We are responsible for the car gate, registration and presenting the trophies during the Award Ceremony. We used to attend the show when the Studebaker Club was handling it, and once Landmark Ford got involved, we took it over from the Studebaker Club.

“Our club loves being involved in the community. The Festival of Balloons is a great event. We enjoy the car show, vendors, and sharing our cars with the community.”

The club meets monthly in Beaverton. 

For more information, visit MustangWranglers.com.

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