They say timing is everything. Amanda Sykes agrees…and for good reason.
Timing was on Amanda’s side at the start of 2020. That’s when she decided to make a career switch and join the Garber team. She currently works as the Director of Experiences at the Highland dealership in Indiana.
So how did she get introduced to Garber in the year of the Covid-19 global pandemic?
A hotel, a conversation, a tour, a gut feeling, and — of course — timing.
Just in Time
While working as a front desk agent for a hotel chain in January 2020, she met Craig Blacklidge, General Manager of the Highland dealership.
“When I was at the front desk, I’d see Craig Blacklidge and his family all the time,” she explained. “The hotel had a lot of issues, so he saw me interact with a bunch of different people. His family said to Craig, ‘You should hire her; you should meet her.”
Amanda proved herself through her actions and work ethic. Craig saw how she handled difficult situations and customer service. He then struck up a conversation with Amanda to start to see if she would be a good fit for Garber.
“Craig came up and was so authentic and said, ‘Hi, what’s your name?’,” she said. “He was trying to get to know me as a person and get to know my personality. It was a genuine conversation.”
After learning more about Amanda and her skills, Craig invited Amanda to tour the dealership. Still, Amanda was uncertain about the opportunity. She loved her job at the hotel.
“But I took a leap of faith,” she said. “Something was telling me that I needed to check it out and go for it.”
That leap of faith helped jumpstart the start of her new career path.
“I took a tour of the dealership and Craig introduced me to the staff,” she said. “It was a warm embrace by everyone. I walked away from that tour thinking, ‘I definitely want to work here.’
During the tour, Amanda saw Garber’s values in action.
“When Craig took me around for the tour, I knew he had a vision,” she said. “I could tell he was hungry and humble and wanted to make a difference. He wanted to make a change in people’s lives, and I wanted to be a part of it. I loved how he explained the Garber family and the company values. I could see where his vision was going, and I trusted him. I wanted to go on this journey and knew it would be a great career path for me.”
A month after Amanda accepted the job, the world changed as shutdowns ensued to combat Covid-19.
Had Amanda not taken the job at Garber before the pandemic, she would have been out of a job.
“I started working for Garber in February 2020,” she said. “The hotel industry shut down completely in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Making the switch to go work for Garber was the best decision I could have made. It was perfect timing. I look back and think, ‘That was nobody but God that aligned that timing.’ I’m so thankful I didn’t have to stop working. I only had one week off in between working for the hotel industry and starting my job at Garber. Everything worked out in God’s favor.”
Playing to Your Strengths
Amanda quickly learned that Garber is a company that values team members’ voices and career goals – even if that means pivoting from the original plan.
“I started selling cars for a few months, but I didn’t like it,” she admitted. “Then the pandemic hit. I told Craig my intentions and that selling cars is not something I like to do. My goal was to be with a company I want to grow with, and I want to be with this company for 30+ years.”
At Garber, it’s not about finding the right person to fit the role. It’s about finding the right role that fits the right person. That’s how Amanda became the Director of Experiences.
“Craig created a position where he saw my strengths and felt that this is what the dealership needed,” she said. “That was a point he was missing when he got here. I can connect with customers and help them feel valued.”
Appreciation & Acknowledgement
In her current role, Amanda helps ensure customers have a quality experience. She also plans community and team member events so both groups feel appreciated.
“For team members, we host birthday parties and free lunches every Saturday,” she explained. “We do different themed lunches: sometimes I’ll have a taco spread, or hot dog theme, or we’ll do ice cream sundae days; we host chili contests. We have so much fun here. People love to work here.”
She said she would describe the Garber culture as “vibrant, festive, and family-oriented.”
Most importantly, she feels valued.
“I feel very cared about here at Garber,” she said. “Here, my mental health is important; my physical health is important; my family life is important,” she said. “It’s a loving environment. I’ve worked in a million different roles: cocktail waitress, bartender, I worked at another dealership, I worked at the hotel. I’ve never been in an environment as peaceful as this one. I love coming to work. I don’t wake up thinking, ‘Oh no, I’ve gotta go to work.’
Amanda said she highly recommends working at Garber.
“Working for Garber will be one of the best decisions of your life,” she said. “If you want a career and want to learn and grow and not hop around, this is the place you need to be. They care about you and put you in a role that is fitting to you. It’s amazing to work with people who want the best for you.”
What was your first job? I worked at Starbucks as a barista. The S’mores Frappuccino is my favorite drink. But working at Starbucks was nerve-wracking! I hated making Frappuccinos because in the summer, the Starbucks lines are SO long, and you’d have to pre-make the mix, and then you’d run out of it.
First car? A 2006 Chevy Impala
What are three things you can’t live without (aside from food, water, air…)? My 7-year-old daughter Alivya; she is a Marvel fanatic and she’s smart beyond belief. I also can’t live without chocolate, coffee and mascara & lip gloss. Sorry, that’s more than three things.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you? I’m 31. Usually people are like, “Oh my God, are you really?” People usually think I’m younger. They think I’m 19 or 20.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and who gave it to you? “Keep your faith.” My grandmother told me that.