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May 23, 2014

Boro booster: Portage auto dealer carries on family tradition

PORTAGE — Brad Stager would not trade his hometown for anything.

The Portage area is a great place in which to live and raise a family because residents and businesses care about each other, he said.

“I love the small-town feel,” he said.

“Knowing that everyone in the town supports the children, families and organizations such as youth baseball is a great feeling,” said the co-owner of Stager’s Chevrolet Buick Co., 528 Main St. in Portage Borough. “You need that network of a community to survive.”

The car dealership has been a supporter of the Portage Area Youth Asssociation for more than 30 years.

Stager’s has been sponsoring a team in the baseball league each of those years, and for the past five years, has taken on a bigger role.

The dealership is one of many in the nation that have partnered with Chevrolet to make sure baseball leagues succeed at teaching boys and girls the national pastime.

Through the Chevy Youth Baseball Program, Stager’s and Chevrolet together have donated a few thousand dollars during the past five years to buy equipment bags, baseballs, softballs, catcher’s gear, batting helmets, breakaway bases, first-aid kits and other items for the Portage Area Youth Association, Stager said.

Many parents also work hard to make sure the ballplayers succeed, said Stager, who played in the league when he was a boy.

“They do a lot of volunteer work in the league to teach my children, other parents’ children and the community’s children.”

Stager is proud to be living atop his dealership in the same residence in which his great-grandfather and founder of the dealership, Phil Stager, raised a family.

His family consists of his wife, Kerin, and two young daughters, Mykenzie and Brooke.

Stager also is active in the community as a member of the Portage-based Traditional Anglers of Pennsylvania.

He helps the organization raise 7,000 trout annually for stocking in area waterways. He also helps with the annual Trout Derby for children, held on Kane Run in Crichton McCormick Park. The last derby was held May 17.

The Trout Derby is another example of how the community supports each other, he said.

Every child in attendance receives a prize donated by local businesses, he said.

“That’s how much the community strives to be a community,” he said.

Mike Zibura, sales and leasing consultant at Stager’s, said the dealership has been involved in the community since Brad’s great-grandfather started the dealership 90 years ago.

“Not only has the community supported Stager’s for that long, Stager’s has supported the community for that long,” he said.

“There is always someone at the door asking for a donation. Stager’s usually will not turn a blind eye to it.”

Zibura said when he started at the dealership more than 30 years ago, Stager had not yet graduated from high school.

“He’s grown into the position,” Zibura said about how Stager has developed over the years. “He’s grown into Stager’s traditional involvement in the community.”

As an employer, Stager is understanding, he said.

He will give employees the ability to pursue family- and community-interests, Zibura said.

With Stager’s father, Randy, at the dealership as a mentor, the business is on the path for what could be another 90 years in business, he said.

Charlie Rimini, owner of The Parkway Restaurant and the Royal Ballroom, both in Portage, said Stager’s does a lot for the community.

Stager’s supports the Portage Foundation, which distributes grants to nonprofit organizations in Portage, he said.

“He’s very community-minded,” Rimini said of Stager. “I’m glad to see another generation of small-business owners continue to operate a business in Portage.”

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at FrankNews10.

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