A clas­sic story of suc­cess in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try

The Hamilton Spectator - - WHEELS.CA -

At new car deal­er­ships across Ontario, thou­sands of men and women are en­joy­ing tremen­dous suc­cess in their cho­sen ca­reers and mak­ing a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in their com­mu­ni­ties.

What many of th­ese men and women have in com­mon is that they didn’t have a clear ca­reer plan when they first en­tered the busi­ness. In other words, they stum­bled upon their pro­fes­sions al­most by ac­ci­dent and wound up ex­celling at them be­yond their wildest dreams.

Robert Mor­ri­son is a clas­sic ex­am­ple. His story il­lus­trates how an en­trylevel po­si­tion in the re­tail auto in­dus­try can - with ef­fort and ded­i­ca­tion - trans­form into a calling and a ca­reer.

By his own ad­mis­sion, Robert sailed through high school as an av­er­age stu­dent. He was not overly en­gaged with his stud­ies and didn’t know what he wanted to do af­ter he grad­u­ated.

In 1995, act­ing on a whim, Robert an­swered a clas­si­fied ad for a de­tailer at a lo­cal car deal­er­ship. He had al­ways liked cars and fig­ured the job would be fun.

To his sur­prise, Robert found de­tail­ing more dif­fi­cult than he imag­ined, but that only mo­ti­vated him to work harder. His will­ing­ness to learn and his pas­sion for the work al­lowed him to be­come a highly skilled de­tailer.

That hard work and pas­sion caught the eye of the ser­vice man­ager, who of­fered to spon­sor Robert if he wanted to be­come a li­censed au­to­mo­bile tech­ni­cian.

Keenly in­ter­ested, Robert en­rolled in the Au­to­mo­tive Ser­vice Tech­ni­cian

pro­gram at Cen­ten­nial Col­lege, where he ex­celled at the in-class and ap­pren­tice­ship com­po­nents of the pro­gram, learn­ing about elec­tri­cal, brak­ing and com­puter sys­tems.

Four-and-a-half years later, Robert earned his auto tech­ni­cian li­cence and even­tu­ally moved up the ranks to mas­ter tech­ni­cian. Through­out th­ese years, work­ing at a Volvo deal­er­ship, Robert demon­strated tremen­dous pro­fi­ciency in the ar­eas of di­ag­no­sis, or­ga­ni­za­tion, prob­lem-solv­ing and re­la­tion­ship build­ing.

Six months af­ter his ca­reer as an au­to­mo­tive tech­ni­cian be­gan, Robert was ap­proached by Cen­ten­nial Col­lege to teach its night re­lease level 3 ap­pren­tice pro­gram. He em­braced this new chal­lenge and taught the course for 11 years.

In 2013, Robert was in­vited onto Cen­ten­nial Col­lege’s Pro­gram Ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee to as­sist in eval­u­at­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of its Au­to­mo­tive Ser­vice Tech­ni­cian Co-op Ap­pren­tice­ship (Part­nered with Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles) and its Au­to­mo­tive Ser­vice Tech­ni­cian Co-op Diploma Ap­pren­tice­ship (part­nered with Tril­lium Au­to­mo­bile Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion), and to iden­tify fu­ture trends and changes in the in­dus­try to en­sure pro­gram rel­e­vancy.

Within a few years, Robert was pro­moted to as­sis­tant ser­vice man­ager and later to ser­vice man­ager at Volvo, and he was in­vited onto a Dealer Coun­cil for North Amer­ica for the brand that he rep­re­sented.

In 2013, Robert joined Pfaff Volk­swa­gen and, two years later, he was pro­moted to fixed op­er­a­tions man­ager. In 2017, he was again pro­moted - this time to re­gional ser­vice man­ager for Pfaff Mo­tors Inc. (a dealer group con­sist­ing of 11 stores and a col­li­sion re­pair fa­cil­ity).

Some­where in his years of work­ing and teach­ing, Robert also found time to write tech­ni­cal ar­ti­cles for au­to­mo­tive mag­a­zines, and he co-founded an auto mag­a­zine.

The past 20 years have been ex­tremely ful­fill­ing for Robert. In high school, he never imag­ined the ca­reer path that un­folded for him. But, with a com­bi­na­tion of cu­rios­ity, ded­i­ca­tion and per­se­ver­ance, Robert es­tab­lished three ca­reers for him­self: as an au­to­mo­tive tech­ni­cian (later man­ager); as a part-time ed­u­ca­tor and ad­viser; and as a writer.

How many other Robert Mor­risons are in high school to­day, con­tem­plat­ing their fu­tures, un­aware of the in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­ni­ties that the re­tail au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try of­fers?

Our in­dus­try has un­der­gone seis­mic changes over the past two decades. Ac­cord­ing to Robert, the main shift is “brains now beats brawn.”

If you are un­de­cided about your fu­ture, or are look­ing to change ca­reers, take some time to check out the di­verse ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties that ex­ist in our in­dus­try.

For in­for­ma­tion about au­to­mo­tive ed­u­ca­tion and in­dus­try trends, visit carsand­jobs.com.

This col­umn rep­re­sents the views and val­ues of the TADA. Write to pres­i­dent@tada.ca or go to tada.ca.

Larry Lantz is pres­i­dent of the Tril­lium Au­to­mo­bile Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and is a new-car dealer in Hanover, ON.

Robert Mor­ri­son has en­joyed a con­tin­u­ously ris­ing ca­reer path in the re­tail au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try, start­ing in 1995, as a de­tailer at a lo­cal deal­er­ship.

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