Welcome to Hireology’s Dealership Spotlight Series—an ongoing Q&A with dealership executives and managers who share stories about their dealership careers, latest industry insight and stories of the retail automotive industry.
The series is intended to shed light on the plentiful dealership careers and help the younger workforce realize that there are indeed fine careers to be made in this industry.
To kickoff our original interview series I interviewed Richard Torres, Director of Fixed Operations at Beyer Auto Group in Falls Church, Virginia. Richard is a mechanical engineer pro with nearly 30 years of experience and is a great example of the career potential mechanics have entering the industry.
Interview with Richard Torres:
Where are you originally from and where do you currently call home?
I was born in Louisiana and grew up in Puerto Rico. I call Puerto Rico home but I’ve been living in Virginia for 30 years now.
What kind of interests did you have growing up and how do they relate to your career? If those interests changed, how did they change to get you where you are today?
I’ve always liked car racing, working on cars, making them go faster and trying to figure out what makes the wheels turn or however they work. When I started working on them, even before middle school, I’d come home from school and my neighbor was a mechanic and he used to work in the evening and I use to go over there and help him. That’s when I learned how to work on cars and I’ve been doing that ever since.
Why work in the retail automotive business?
Every day is a different challenge. Plus, for me, I think I have the knowledge and desire. It’s easy for me to work in the automotive industry with my experience because I feel comfortable even talking about cars or working on them or having a conversation with a customer on what’s going on with their car. I don’t get bored because every day is different. Even when you think you’ve seen it all or heard it all, something pops up, whether it's a new problem or new challenge. And that’s about it—I just enjoy working on cars and being involved in the business.
What keeps you motivated?
Pretty much the same. The challenge of the actual cars these days; and also I meet a lot of customers I’ve know for several years. I like helping people and I like seeing some customers I’ve known for 20 years or so. They come to us and it’s like I see them not so much as a customer, but more like a friend because I know them so well. So, that helps keep me going...and the coworkers; we all spend so much time together. A lot of people stick around the store, so people have been here for a long time and we all know each other very well. Also, as there comes some change with car technology, it keeps my interest. And you know, the way they’re building cars these days, which are pretty much computers on wheels, keeps it interesting to work on cars. So that also helps keep me going and stay motivated.
When was the first time you thought "this is the right business/career for me"?
I think, it’s pretty much been what I’ve always wanted to do. I probably wasn’t thinking about it back then, thinking, ‘This is going to be my career,’ but that was my only passion—that was the only thing that I saw or could see myself working on. And like I said, I’ve always liked to be around cars and working on cars. I when I grew up I was working on family cars, my sister’s car...I used to fix all of their cars when I was growing up.
When I was in the military I was a mechanic as well. I didn’t even think about looking at any other job. That was always my plan for work.
The people here at the dealership, the people I work with, are great people and it is a really great company to work for. I don’t think I ever thought that this was going to be my career, but that was what I’ve always done. When I went to college, mechanical engineering college, my mind was always set on mechanics and cars and stuff like that. So I think without even thinking about it, that’s what I was always going to be.
Have you ever had a moment when you said, “I need to get out of this” or “it’s time to explore other careers/opportunities”?
Not really. If I ever get out of this position, I’m sure that I’ll do something that has to do with cars. But I think I with this being my only job, I think I’ll retire here. At this point, I’ve been here almost 29 years. I don’t think I’m going to go anywhere and I don’t think I want to start something new. I feel very comfortable here because of the knowledge I have of cars. So I think if I ever go, or leave here, either because of retirement or for whatever reason they let me go here...and I decided to go back to work, I think I’d be looking for some type of automotive industry work at a dealership or factory or something like that. But I definitely think I would want to work on cars.
I even worry about, right now, missing out on what’s coming up in the next few years with cars, if I retire in the next six or seven years. I was planning to retire but I don’t know if I will or make it that far, but there’s a lot of really good changes coming out on these cars and I think I’m going to miss a lot once I get out. Even if I’m retired, I think I’m going to maybe work part-time or something. I don’t think I can just go home and do nothing.
What advice do you have for those entering the retail automotive workforce?
Do the best you can and if you don’t have any knowledge and this (retail automotive and mechanics) is what they want to do, then just stick with whatever position they give you at the dealership. The more you work, the more you learn and the more it helps you to keep growing within the organization and move up in other positions.
When I came here I was actually looking for a job as a mechanic or a supervisor and there was nothing open but in parts, so I took the position in parts. I went from parts to technician, supervisor, then manager and then director.
The advantage you get advancing that way, is all of the knowledge and works of those different departments. Just do what keeps your hands on the car and if you have the opportunity to go to college or go to school, and do the school part of it...take advantage of it. It’s a very rewarding career and mechanics; you know…they get paid pretty well these days.
Talent like Richard doesn’t come along every day, but the potential talent is out there if you know how to recruit and hire the right way. Click on the link below to get everything you need to employ qualified talent at your dealership.