December 6, 2012- Los Altos
|Robert Hammer raffling a new car
at the 2007 East Bay Walk to Defeat ALS
| Robert Hammer with other volunteers
at the 2008 Napa Valley Ride to Defeat ALS
Robert Hammer was born and raised in a small suburb called
University Heights, near Cleveland, Ohio.
His passion was always music, especially rock, British-influenced. So he
began working for a local entertainment magazine called The Scene, writing
columns about what was happening in the rock 'n roll world; who was in the
studio making new albums; who joined or left their band. "I was considered
a "walking rock & roll encyclopedia'," Hammer said. "My
writing pseudonym was 'The Master' and I did some DJ work under that name as
At the age of 24, he was asked to run an entertainment
facility called "The Piccadilly Inn". The ground floor was a disco, the penthouse was a rock club,
and in between were seven floors of hotel rooms. A few weeks shy of his 28th
birthday, he helped open a premier, "Studio 54-inspired” nightclub called
"Nite Moves", serving as designer, partner and general manager. " It opened to rave reviews, was
three floors, which held over one thousand people- it was huge success!"
Some investors from Toledo, Ohio found out
that Robert was the brains behind the flourishing business, and asked him to
design and build them a nightclub which he dubbed "Nirvana", It was
at this time that Robert began his love affair with automobiles when he used
his signing bonus to buy a 1975 Ferrari 308GT4. In 1980, after finishing his contract, he followed his
family to San Diego where they had previously relocated. He spent several years
trying out different careers, eventually relocating to the Bay Area, but none
of them were a fit. In July 1987, he answered an ad in the paper for an automobile
broker. "I went to work there
and the rest is history." He
learned the industry, inside and out, and used that knowledge to start his
company Hammer Auto in 1993. Slowly but surely, he built the business into one of the
largest most successful auto brokerage firms in the United States.
In February 2004, Robert was looking for
a way to give back to the community. "I asked around to find out who had their finger on 'the pulse' of my area's charitable organizations," said Hammer. The name of Gunilla Cook was given to him. Gunilla was a long time supporter of The Greater Bay Area Chapter through her relationship with her finance, board president Tom Follett. At the time, she was chairing on a
committee for the All-Star fundraising event for The ALS Association to honor
John Madden. " I contacted her
to find out what I could do to help," Hammer shared. "She asked me if I could donate a Mercedes to The ALS
Association, "Hammer said.” I laughed, but ended up donating a one-year
lease on a VW beetle."
Participating in that event was the first time Robert had ever met
people living with ALS, as well as members of the Chapter's Board and event
committee. A couple of weeks later, he was asked to be on the
Board. "I was extremely
honored and moved by the opportunity." Hammer said. Over the following years, Robert Hammer chaired
or co-chaired The Chapter's annual All-Star Gala events, often emceeing the
events as well. He has also donated leases on premier vehicles to be auctioned
for various fundraising events. "The ALS Association and helping people
with ALS has touched my heart," said Hammer. "It has inspired me to
be giving of myself ever since.
When there is a Walk or Ride in my area, I try to get there and assist
the event however I can."
Robert with his wife Tammy
One of the ways that Robert
helps to support the Golden West Chapter is through helping people manage the charitable donation of their vehicles. "I sell the vehicle and give 100% of the proceeds to
the Chapter," Hammer said.
"If you go anywhere else, 90% of the funds end up in administrative
fees and the Chapter only gets pennies on the dollar. Also, if people donate
$1000 or more to the Chapter, Hammer Auto will waive a portion of the broker
fee on any new vehicle."
Robert's wife Tammy has deep pride in her husband's longtime
involvement with the Golden West Chapter.
"I will always be at Robert's side and fully committed to what we
can do in the fight to defeat ALS," she said.
“Another reason for my involvement with ALS is that it is
such a misunderstood disease," Hammer shares. "Most people don't know that there are thousands and
thousands affected in the US alone. I tell people that ALS makes people a
prisoner in their own bodies. It is profoundly sad the way that disease impacts
"Imagine what the millions of people in
California could do to make a difference in the fight against this devastating
disease if they were to "Get the 414" and support ALS research on Line 414- ALS/Lou Gehrig's
Disease Research fund initiative on their California taxes."
"I urge everyone out there to use social media, e-mail
and speak directly to your sphere of influence about Lou Gehrig's disease. Let them know that they need to reach
out exponentially to ask their friends' spheres to educate people about