Josh Kusterer knows how to sell a thing or two. Or three.
He has a strong background in sales. He’s sold seafood at Red Lobster and cell phones at Verizon.
Now Josh has moved onto cars. He is the Business Manager at Garber Chevrolet Midland in Michigan, and his work experience has helped him in more ways than one.
“I’ve always said that everyone should either serve tables or be in the customer service business because you learn how to treat people,” Josh said. “I learned a lot by serving tables and talking to people. That really prepared me for the jump to selling cars, which I had never thought I’d do.”
Josh has also learned that career satisfaction goes beyond what he sells. It’s about a family-oriented culture and growth…and that’s exactly what he gets at Garber.
An Industry Switch
Josh’s start in the automotive industry was a good ole’ fashioned case of “right time, right place.”
While working at Red Lobster, Josh learned that the restaurant manager’s husband – Juan Bush, who worked at Garber Buick in Saginaw – was hiring.
“At the time, Juan was the Used Car Sales Manager at Garber Buick,” Josh explained. “My manager said to me, ‘My husband is looking for a guy to sell cars at Garber.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ But then I said to my wife, ‘I’ll interview, and if I get it, I’ll give it a year. If I hate it, I’ll come back.’”
Many people get nervous when they interview for a new job. Not Josh.
“Everything from what they were saying sounded great; it was fun,” he said. “I never knew the Garber name or anything about dealerships or selling cars, so the interview process was fun to hear the Garber background and how long it has been around.”
In April 2010, Josh officially joined the Garber Buick team. Garber’s leadership and colleagues helped provide the support he needed to quickly find his footing.
“I was nervous to start, but I had the support of Juan and the leadership there, so their support made it easier for me,” he said. “The leadership I had at the Buick store and things I learned from Rich Perdue, Tom Ward, John Weiss, Juan Bush… I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.
His prior experience in the food industry helped, too.
“The restaurant world set the pace for going into the car world,” he said. “Selling appetizers and dinners to people is the same as selling cars or phones: it’s all about being good and nice to people.”
The Boomerang Effect
After five and a half years at Garber Buick, Josh took a break from the automotive world to focus on family.
But he didn’t stay away. Juan Bush – the same person who hired him at Garber Buick— came calling. He was now at the Garber Chevrolet Midland store, and he wanted Josh back on the team.
“I decided to come back because I trusted Juan,” he said. “Juan believed in me and I trusted that; I trusted that Garber would put me in a spot to grow and that’s what they did.”
In September 2019, Josh joined the Garber Chevrolet Midland team. With career growth in mind, he learned special finance and conventional finance.
“I felt like I didn’t miss a beat,” Josh said. “It was the same process. It was a different store, but it’s Garber, so the values are the same. It felt like being back home. I had the support that I needed.”
With growth and support, Josh learned. In April 2021, he stepped into his current role as Business Manager.
He was nervous…but once again, he had that leadership support that gave him a boost of confidence.
“I was hesitant with that at first; it’s a very big responsibility,” he said. “I was nervous and scared. One thing Craig Lang [General Manager of Garber Chevrolet Midland] says is, ‘I believe in you.’ For me (and Juan did the same thing) when a leader says that to you, it makes you want to work that much harder to not fail them.”
Growth, Growth, Growth
Josh continues to grow at Garber Chevrolet Midland – and one of the reasons is because of how much growth is prioritized at the dealership, which is reflected in low turnover.
“People don’t typically leave Garber or if they do, it’s because they are getting promoted within,” Josh explained. “It’s more of a family feeling than a corporate store. Garber is family-oriented. You are an actual person, not a number.”
Garber Chevrolet Midland has a specific learning program to help develop leaders, Josh explained.
“The Grower’s Club at our dealership is a great way for any employee that wants to move up in the company to learn more about a position they are interested in,” Josh said. “It’s for employees that show they want to learn and grow in the company.”
Josh explained there are resources available to employees that want to earn a position and are willing to put in the work and effort to get there.
“We learn things that you can’t really teach at a college or school,” he said. “It’s hands-on. Every other Thursday we have meetings with the managers and the growers and learn about leadership. We read a lot of books that are focused on training and growing.”
At the end of the day, the growth never stops at Garber.
“I’ve always wanted to move up and grow into a leadership role, no matter where I was at, whether it was Red Lobster or Verizon or here,” Josh said. “I’m here in this finance seat but I’m growing even more with this dealership and with Craig’s mentorship. You don’t just make it and take a breath. We are always trying to get better here at Garber.”
The lessons he’s learning through Garber don’t just benefit Josh.
“These things I’m learning from work as far as growing and becoming a mentor, I bring that home,” he said. “I will instill those things into my kids as far as work ethic, our company values…those things at work I bring home to the family.”
First concert? The Verve Pipe
First car? 1990 Mercury Cougar. I bought that from my grandma for $1,500.
Favorite meal? Grilled salmon or tacos
Three words to describe your personality? Humble, kind-hearted, hardworking
Bucket list item? Own a classic car