Organizing a large local community is no easy feat.
Successfully sustaining and growing that community is an even rarer feat—a feat that takes uncommon traits, drive, and innovation possessed by few individuals. Ben Schneider, UNCOMN’s Media Specialist and founder of Cars and Coffee St. Louis, has done just that. When Ben was just 20 years old, he took the initiative to organize a loose collective of car enthusiasts and reinvent the St. Louis car scene by connecting with local establishments to host “Cars and Coffee” meetups, which occur almost every Saturday from Springtime until Fall across multiple locations. Now at age 23, he and his business partner, Craig Whitehead, turned this small organization into a legitimate business while helping it grow to over 5,000 members, which ranks it as a top 5 largest “Cars and Coffee” organizations in the United States.
Not only has Ben done great things for the St. Louis car scene, he has also done great things for the St. Louis community as a whole. Whether it’s organizing ride-a-longs for terminally ill kids in some of St. Louis’ fastest and most exotic cars or running a yearly fundraising event that benefits the underprivileged youths of St. Louis, Ben’s and Cars and Coffee’s impact is spread wide across St. Louis. “Personally, it always surprises me,” says Ben. “Just last weekend we held a food drive for a local North County food bank that was recently hit by burglars. We had volunteers that stood in 30-degree weather for 7+ hours and ended up filling an entire box truck with non-perishable donations from the local car community.”
“It’s truly amazing how a group of individuals with such a direct focus as cars, can make such a broad, positive impact on the community. Our charity events are really the highlight of what we do, and they always go better than expected.”
One aspect of car culture is photography, which happens to be a huge part of social media platforms. Ben recognized that in order to grow Cars and Coffee St. Louis, he would have to create and maintain a large presence across all social media platforms. Instead of hiring photographers, he learned how to take his own photos and encouraged locals getting into photography, that it would be great for exposure as well as practice. Instead of hiring a social media expert, he spent every day after work learning social media marketing. He created and currently manages the Cars and Coffee St. Louis Facebook page and Instagram accounts, which together have over 8,000 followers across both platforms.
His passion for photography, his ability to connect to and with people, and his unwavering drive for success is what makes Ben an “Uncommon Genius”. Taking note of Ben’s passion and unique skill set, UNCOMN decided they would move him out of his IT role and into a Media Specialist position. By investing into Ben’s passion and skill set, UNCOMN expanded its social media presence which allowed the company to actively engage with its audience on a daily basis. But more importantly, it’s given Ben the ability to immerse himself into his passion and further mature his skill set in a way that benefits him and UNCOMN. UNCOMN’s recipe for success lies within its people. By “Celebrating Uncommon Genius”, UNCOMN gives its employees the environment and tools to personally succeed while fostering a culture that leverages their personal capabilities to the fullest extent.
See more photos from Cars and Coffee St. Louis here.