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Schenectady's Mohawk Auto Center, with Jerry Springer in tow, celebrates centennial

Schenectady's Mohawk Auto Center, with Jerry Springer in tow, celebrates centennial

Springer has long been a pitchman for the Schenectady dealership
Schenectady's Mohawk Auto Center, with Jerry Springer in tow, celebrates centennial
Jerry Springer and Mohawk Auto Center's Steve Haraden
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

SCHENECTADY — A long-running local business is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a blast of high-octane celebrity firepower.

Famed television personality Jerry Springer touched down in Schenectady on Thursday to help commemorate Mohawk Auto Center's milestone.

"You deserve all the accolades you get," Springer told Mohawk Auto Center Vice President Steve Haraden during a brief presentation at their State Street location. 

City Council President Ed Kosiur read a proclamation from the Schenectady mayor’s office deeming March 7 "Mohawk Auto Center Day."

Springer, 75, is best-known for "The Jerry Springer Show," the rollicking daytime talk show that captivated the nation in the mid-1990s with its colorful chair-throwing guests.

For the past decade, he has served as a television pitchman for the family-owned business. 

The popular program, which ran between 1991 and 2018, used to play in the waiting room, Haraden said. 

"It was always a rowdy crowd enjoying the show," he said.

Springer concluded his television spots with the catchphrase "Tell 'em Jerry sent you."

It worked — and still does. 

"It was a huge help," Haraden said. "People come and say, 'Jerry sent me.'"

Mohawk Auto Center is now in its fourth generation of family ownership after being founded in 1919 by Joe Haraden, a former GE engineer.

Steve runs the business with his brother, Jeff, and the company continues to facilitate numerous community outreach programs. 

The dealership announced last November a commitment to donate $10,000 each to 10 local charities as part of their centennial celebrations.

And 200 employees have committed to serving a total of 10,000 hours of community service throughout the year.

"If every business could be just like this, we'd be in great shape nationally," Springer said.

Haraden thanked the community for its support.

"We couldn't do it without our loyal customers," he said. "It"s all about them today."

Springer, a former Cincinnati mayor, quipped he tried to reel in rock stars like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen into giving concerts with promises of keys to the city.

"I gave away 50 keys," he said. "I was meeting everyone. Then I ran out of keys, so I started giving out the combination."

Springer said he has visited the Capital Region "many times." Perhaps his most memorable visit came in 1997 as he brought his Springer show to Schenectady to tape a episode described at the time as lewd, amid a city crackdown on strip clubs.

Now that his old show is over, Springer's appearance Thursday also gave him a chance to promote his next TV show, "Judge Jerry," a syndicated courtroom program that will debut this fall via NBCUniversal Television Distribution.

He likened the show to "Judge Judy."

"I'm an attorney, so I'm going to be a judge in this show," Springer said. "We'll take real cases and I’m going to have judgments and hopefully it’ll be entertaining and people will want to watch. If they have a legal dispute, they can come on our show and I’ll try to give a fair judgment."

He continued: "Getting a new show at this age, I'm very lucky."

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