Arty Elgart claims that if you ask the people who live near his automotive business what he sells they would have no clue. But Elgart is no stranger to the residents who live around 10th and Butler Streets in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia.
His familiar face is one the community knows is trustworthy and caring. When he drives through the streets, he is always greeted by people who are outside of their houses. They know him as “Mr. Arty,” and they consider him a friend. Elgart’s automotive wholesale distribution warehouse, Robert Elgart & Sons, has been in two separate locations within Hunting Park for a total of 27 years.
The reason that he means more to the neighbors of his business than just automotive accessories is his willingness to give a part of himself whenever he can. Elgart knows how to handle himself in what is considered a tough community after teaching physical education in Camden, N.J., for five years. When he took the business over from his father in 1970 not only did he change the exterior by remodeling the building, he also increased the company’s profit by introducing new methods of distribution, such as beginning to sell products to supermarkets and department stores.
Aside from the changes that are obvious and easy to measure, Elgart managed to gain the respect of his community by employing local residents, buying benches that he placed at three, different bus stops and offering clothing out of the trunk of his car to anyone in the neighborhood that wanted some. “I just give. It’s fun for me,” Elgart said, chuckling.
Being the president of a successful business should be enough for him to spend his time worrying about, but Elgart’s easy-going demeanor is one of a kind. If things are going smoothly in his company, Elgart does not rest there, he finds something new to improve or more to accomplish. Inspired by the fact that he could not immediately have children, he realized not only did he want to adopt but that others should get the opportunity to do so as well. Golden Cradle Adoption Services was his solution.
Elgart founded the adoption agency and paid for everything that had to be completed in order for it to thrive. He is a board member and the president of Golden Cradle, but he receives no payment for anything he does involving the organization. Golden Cradle is licensed in Cherry Hill, N.J., but the agency works with people in the neighborhood and throughout the world.
Elgart holds onto his past in a way that enables him to make a positive impact in the future. “Don’t ever forget where you came from and how you got here,” he says. “Keep your feet on the ground, be humble, and do things to try to help other people in life.”