“This Isn’t Just a Job. I’m Building a Career”: Leah Bertoni’s Story

It was time to make a change.

After 10 years in the service industry, Leah Bertoni was ready for something new.

“I had been a bartender, a waitress…anything you could think of in the service industry, I did it,” Leah said. “But once Covid happened, I realized I wanted to start investing more time into my family and relationships with friends and my husband. Having a job in the service industry makes that really hard to do. I decided to start looking for a new job.”

Garber Chevrolet Subaru in Webster, New York, is where she landed, making the official switch from restaurant service to automotive.

But before she got the role, she had to interview first.

First Impressions

With over 2,000 team members company-wide, Garber is consistently growing. Leah is one of our latest hires to join the Garber family.

“I started as the Director of Impressions on June 14, 2021, so nearly two months ago,” she laughed. “I’m really new. I took the leap and changed roles, and I couldn’t be happier.”

When Leah came in for her interview at the Webster dealership, she noticed the welcoming environment right away.

“When I first walked in, there was someone sitting at the front desk and immediately said, ‘Hi! How are you?’ Just that upbeat personality was a welcoming sign,” she said. “In the five minutes that I was waiting, at least two people came up to me and asked, ‘Oh, have you been helped?’ That attentiveness…that’s huge. It left such a great first impression. And now after being here two months, I’ve noticed that a lot of the salespeople are very great at noticing people who come in and they are very attentive.”

Since accepting the position, Leah has also noticed how appreciative and team-focused the team is at Garber. 

The team mentality parallels the restaurant world that she had grown accustomed to for a decade. She said her bartending and server skills translated well to the automotive world because of the similar skill set: customer service, working together to achieve a goal and supporting each other to see success. 

“We work as a team here,” she said. “We are like a gear that needs to be moving at all times, and everyone needs to be doing their jobs to make it work. I’ve always been on board with that mindset. That’s restaurant life, too. Everything needs to work together. That was my favorite part of the interview at Garber: hearing that there are a lot of different people doing different roles who are welcoming and want to help each other.”

She said she feels she is more than a team member. She is valued as a person.

“Joel Williams, our GM, has been very welcoming to me,” she said. “He asks questions about me as a person, like, ‘Oh, do you have any kids?’ and questions to try to get to know me. He makes the time to say little things, like, ‘Hey Leah, you’re doing a really great job.’ Those nice gestures are very welcoming and it’s so good to hear.”

 A Career Mentality

When she worked in the restaurant service industry, Leah did not see an opportunity for growth.

Her mindset has changed since working at Garber.

“I’ve gained a new sense of feeling that this isn’t just a job; I’m building a career,” she said. “When I was in the restaurant industry, I knew I didn’t want to be a restaurant manager. There was no long-term growth for me. But now at Garber, I have a position that allows me to move up and grow. I see it just in the short time that I’ve been here. I see the potential. I see my potential here.”

She said she feels supported by her team every day.

“My colleagues give me affirmation here,” she explained. “My manager Heather every couple of days will say, ‘Hey Leah, do you want to learn this? Let me show you how to do this.’ They want me to keep moving forward to learn about the company and grow.”

Leah said the industry change has noticeably improved her life quality across the board.

“I feel incredible working here,” she said. “I’ve been a stay-at-home mom and bartender for at least seven years of my life. My daughter is six and my son is three. My daughter went off to kindergarten and I was ready to start a career. In the short time I’ve been here, my mom has even noticed my mood switch and told me, ‘You’ve never looked happier.’”

After uncovering a new career path for herself, what advice would she give to someone who is itching for a new professional start?

“If someone was interested in making a career switch like I did and is considering applying to work at Garber, I would tell them to definitely take the chance,” she said. “Even if you take a temporary pay cut from whatever job you’re in now…you have to remember, you can’t buy your memories back with your family and loved ones. Money can buy what you think makes you happy, but it can’t buy you the memories that you might miss out on. Take the jump. What do you have to lose?”


What was your first job? My first job was at a place called Big League Dreams, it’s a sports complex in my hometown of Redding, California.

First car? My first vehicle was a 77’ F-100 short bed Ford whose name was Helga. My family really liked naming their trucks old-fashioned names.

What are three things you can’t live without (aside from food, water, air…)? Three things I cannot live without would have to be a hair tie, mozzarella sticks, and my sequined converse sneakers.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you? I went to college playing softball for Simpson University in California for about a year and a half.

Best advice you’ve received? I don’t know about life advice, but something I have been trying to live by is to “Take the moments as they come; the chores will be there when you get back.” As a mom of two, wife, and perfectionist, these words mean a lot.


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Lindsay Henry

Lindsay Henry

Lindsay is the Digital Communications Manager for Garber Automotive Group.

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