Summerside Toyota, formerly Clark’s Toyota, was started by Lowell Clark in 1965. Sons David and Scott Clark ran the dealership from 1991 to 2015, when it was sold to the Pye Group of companies of Nova Scotia.
The dealership is located on Walker Avenue, right in Summerside. Each year, the dealership retails approximately 400 new vehicles and 200 used vehicles. Summerside Toyota is also the home of an award winning Service and Parts Department, managed by Spencer Arsenault. Between vehicle sales, service, parts and administration, the dealership currently employs 28 people, ranging from 18 to early 60’s in age.
“I’ve been in this industry 11 years, and have happily had the opportunity to work in nearly every possible position at the dealership,” says Craig Passmore, General Manager. “I started in the industry when I was in the middle of my RCMP application – I needed to work while I was waiting, so I applied with the O’Regan’s Automotive Group in Halifax.
“I loved the industry and the O’Regan’s Group provided me the opportunity to advance and develop both personally and professionally. I vividly remember withdrawing from the RCMP application and I can honestly say, it was the best decision I could have made. This industry is incredible and full of opportunity.”
Passmore is also a Graduate with honours of the Georgian College Automotive Dealership Management Program, and the recipient of the Marie-Noelle Boncalzi Award.
- Sales Associates
- Service Advisors
- Parts Advisors
- Accounts Payable
“The company has a wonderful atmosphere, there is potential for growth, and work schedules are very conducive to a work-life balance that we are need,” Craig says.
“We will be looking to hire Sales Associates and Technicians in the next 6 to 12 months,” he says. “The staff turnover rate is typically three to four a year, depending on various circumstances.”
For Technicians, a strong mechanical background is not always required. “We’re looking for great people, regardless of training and experience. Quality people are the strength of any business, training the required skills to perform well is often the easy part. Sure, we consider applicants with experience and qualifications an asset, but it’s certainly a misconception industry wide that you need them to get in the door. I’m a perfect example – I was a university student looking for work before I settled into what I thought was my ‘ideal’ career.”
Craig says the work environment is fast-paced. “One of the best parts of an Automotive career is the constantly changing landscape. Our industry is advancing at a rapid pace and the business is changing daily – you really need to be on your toes, each marketplace is completely different.”
“The skill level for today’s Technicians is very high,” he says. “They are part electricians and part computer programmers. It seems that with our brand, we deal less with the heavy mechanical and parts replacement than the electrical and computer type diagnostics. This has really left a void with the required skill sets and is quickly changing what these students are learning in Automotive Technology programs across the country.”
Besides grade 12 education, trade designations and certificates, Technicians are required to participate in manufacturer training and other in-house personal and professional training sessions. “Toyota has very good manufacturer support programs to keep techs well informed of the latest developments and changes to our product lines.”
The dealership takes on apprentices and students for on-the-job training, job shadowing, and co-op placements.
Summerside Toyota advertises open positions on Career Beacon and Facebook. Applicants are encouraged to email resumés and cover letters or drop them off in person, addressed to Craig, who interviews successful applicants.
They also meet the manager of the department they are applying to. “We ask them about their five-year plan, their personal and professional goals, and what do they need from their employer. It’s important that the applicants see us as a place they want to work, not just whether we want to hire them or not. We need to change the way we interview, applicants are really interviewing their employers and making a decision for themselves rather than the other way around. We like to acknowledge that through interview structure.”
“I see most of the interview as an open conversation which helps the applicant and myself determine if this place is a good fit for them or not, it’s equally important that they have the ability to ask questions and participate in the conversation” he says.
Craig is also willing to do informational interviews with interested job seekers. “Stop in with a resumé and we can discuss available positions.”
Compensation and advancement
Wages are between $16 and $28/hour. Sales Associates work on commission. Full-time staff receive full benefits and a RRSP matching program.
“Advancement within the company is good. For the right person, the opportunities are endless.”
Summerside Toyota supports the Summerside Western Capitals hockey team, and donates to the Prince County Hospital and many other local events and charities. The dealership recently sponsored Island professional hockey legend Forbes Kennedy’s biography, Forbie, written by Gary MacDougall, retired managing editor of The Guardian, and published by Retromedia Publishing.