Let’s start with some numbers, shall we?
- Sixteen. That’s how many years David Jordan (“DJ”) has worked in the automotive industry
- Fourteen. The number of years he worked at other dealerships before joining Garber
- 2019. The year DJ joined the team at Garber Chevrolet in Linwood, Michigan
- Two. The number of questions it took for DJ’s career path to shift towards passion
“When I started here at Garber in Linwood, I was in F&I, and Dave Tokarsky became our new GM,” DJ explained. “But within his first week, he came in to talk to me. I was in finance at the time, and it was not my passion. The first question he asked me is, ‘What are your passions? What makes you happy?’ I said, ‘Honestly, I’m a sales guy. I like to be with people.’”
Within a couple of months, DJ transitioned out of finance and into sales. He now comes to work every day at Garber Chevrolet Linwood as the New Car Sales Manager.
“Dave Tokarsky asking me what I am passionate about and caring about my goals…that is my best memory so far working in Linwood,” DJ said. “That’s what you want leaders to ask: ‘What do you care about?’ In the past, I had a lot of people working with me, and how many people did I NOT ask that question to? It was a wake-up call, and I needed one.”
A Culture Shift
DJ had 14 years under his belt working in a non-Garber group. Then an opportunity at Garber opened up. DJ’s perspective did, too.
“It sounds cheesy, but it was the culture that attracted me to Garber,” DJ explained. “With Garber, it’s all about collaboration. They don’t just ask something of you; they talk to you about it, so it’s a dialogue and you have input. They say, ‘How can we get you there? What do you have in mind for your career?’
Once he joined the company, he immediately noticed how Garber prioritizes team members. At first, this new people-focused mindset took some getting used to.
“It was such a change in culture for me,” he said. “Because at other locations, I was used to this attitude of, ‘You have a budget. You have an objective. You have something you have to do, and if you don’t do it, you’re just not good. And if you don’t do it, we will find someone better.’ Here at Garber, it’s this mindset of, ‘Grow your people and they’ll move mountains.’ After being in the car business for so long, I believe I have the skill set and I am good at my job, but the culture change here at Garber was huge.”
DJ said the switch to Garber positively impacted his mental and physical health.
“Garber helped me understand that working hard doesn’t have to be at the sacrifice of your mental wellbeing,” he said. “My stress levels have dropped off the map since I started working for Garber. It’s been amazing. I don’t have stomach aches because of stress and nerves anymore. That in itself is a win.”
People = Priority
Now that he’s ingrained in the Garber culture, DJ said two things serve as the strongest building blocks of Garber’s foundation: values and people.
“The second you get into Garber, you understand it’s all about building the right team,” he said. “If they find the right people, they find the right spot for you. It’s all about finding the right people that share the company values.”
The company values – honesty, empathy, respect, work ethic, integrity, and pride – often serve as a guide to finding the people to join the team. The people reinforce the values.
“I haven’t worked at another place that has such strong company values,” DJ said. “Garber puts value behind those words. It takes a certain type of person to meet those values. But that’s what a Garber person looks like. That’s what makes Garber what it is: the people.
So, what does DJ appreciate the most about working for Garber?
“There’s a lot of answers to that question,” he said. “Fair pay. Amazing 401k match. Benefits. Those are the easy answers. But I think the biggest thing is open communication. I can call up anyone at any of our locations and just have a conversation or ask a question. It feels like a small group even though we’re not; Garber is one of the biggest and yet it’s so approachable. Dick Garber has called me up and said, ‘Hey Dave, how’s it going? I hope you have a great day.’ The open communication is such a sharp relief from what I’ve experienced in the past in the car business. It’s amazing. Working for Garber is the best decision I made.”
What was your first job? When I was 13 (I don’t even know if this was legal) I started scooping ice cream in downtown Wyandotte, Michigan at a place called Stroh’s. Have you ever scooped chocolate ice cream in the summer? You’re basically scooping a brick. We would shatter cones trying to put these scoops on. I still keep in touch with the owner. I had a huge bicep…my right arm looked like Popeye’s arm. The right arm said, “Wow, he must work out.” My left arm was like, “Um, no, he doesn’t.”
What are three things you can’t live without (aside from food, water, air…)?
- Family. I see no purpose if I don’t have my wife and kids.
- I cannot live without day trips.We like to go to Mackinac or Cedar Point. I love planning the trip: getting hotels, rates, the agenda.
- I also can’t live without good water. I’m a water snob. I hate to say that, but I am. I won’t drink tap water. It’s not because I want to impress people. I just love great water.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you? I was engaged to my wife Allison after four days in London.
Wow. More details on that story, please. We were both stateside and went to Alma College. Took a class, ENG383, which was Medieval Literature. I had never met her before, but we were both in this class and we got to go overseas. We’re flying in this giant plane. My buddy Mike gets air sick, and he’s like, ‘I need to change seats; I can’t be by the window.’ He was sitting next to Allison, and we switched seats so I sat next to her.
Every day after class in London, we’d go to the Ye Olde Cock tavern. We were all drinking Guinness and talking about relationships. Allison, this shy girl, suddenly blurts out, ‘I just want to be married to the first person who asks so I get it done with.’ I had a couple of drinks at this point. I go to this store next door, and as fate would have it, I buy this ring for $200. I come back and say to her, ‘Hey, you said you’d marry the first person who’d ask you.’ She said, ‘I guess so. Yeah.’ She put the ring on, and from that point on, we were inseparable.
We celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary on June 24. For the record, I did end up proposing with a better ring. She still wears the London ring on her pinky finger.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and who gave it to you?
My dad said to me in high school, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” That still is very important to me. I say it to the sales team; I say it to my sons. I would rather do it once correctly.
Also, Tark [Dave Tokarsky, general manager at Linwood] also says “A goal without a plan is only a dream.” Act with intention. It changed the way I focus on my day-to-day. I write out more notes. I label my objective for the day. I am much more organized, both personally and professionally.