Graff Family Foundation Digital Studio

If you were to chart the ups and downs of the Flint community since 1914, you would notice a decidedly erratic pattern. Great success has often been followed by intense struggle.

The Graff family has been in the Flint area since the 1800s, and they have witnessed firsthand the ups and downs. But as they will say, Flint has been good to them, and now it is a joy to pay it back.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 65% of new businesses fail within the first 10 years. So it is beyond remarkable — borderline miraculous — that the Graff Family of Dealerships, started in 1914, is now being led by the fourth generation.

It hasn’t been easy. Founder Otto Graff survived the Great Depression by giving his business stock to Citizen’s Bank and gradually buying it back over a period of twenty years. His son Max had to leave college during that same time due to the Depression. The family next fought off near-insolvency during World War II, when manufacturing facilities were all dedicated to the war effort and no cars were built. They managed to keep the business afloat with service and used car sales. When Hank Graff entered the business, things still were not easy. Success came slowly, but he expanded the organization through strategic acquisitions and a service-focused mindset.

Throughout the tumultuous history of the business, the Flint community-supported Graff dealerships. When Hank and Bonnie Graff reached the point where they could hand over the reins to the next generation, they started a foundation so that they could continue to give back to the future of their beloved community.

Their Foundation’s focus on children and education makes their gift to Flint Public Library extremely fitting. The Graff family wants to help young people in Genesee County turn the corner and achieve. They believe the Library is an important asset, especially to help educate the workforce of tomorrow.

The Graff Family Foundation Digital Studio will be a place where people of all ages can access technology resources for fun or for career exploration.  Who knows? Perhaps the next Flint business to thrive for 100 years or more will be started by someone who discovers their creative spark through the resources made possible by Flint Public Library.

Graff Family Foundation (Hank and Bonnie Graff, Kim Whitmore, Chris Graff)