I’m a writer.
It’s not something I chose. Not consciously, anyway.
It all started with books. I read a lot as a kid, getting lost in worlds and stories. Then my fingers found a pen and paper.
The writing started. It’s never stopped.
Because words chose me, I’ve dedicated my life to choosing them back. I knew my career would always involve writing in some way.
But I never once thought I’d work in the car dealership world. To say my prior automotive knowledge is limited would be generous.
As Dick Garber recently told me, “Life’s a journey.” Somehow, some way, my journey took a sharp left, placing me right at the front doors of Garber Management Group in Saginaw, Michigan. I have been a proud member of the Digital Marketing team as the Digital Communications Manager.
It is bittersweet to say that the time has come for my journey to lead me in a different direction.
Tomorrow is my last day at Garber. I will be following a new professional and personal path that is taking me to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In the past year, we’ve shared over 90 Employee Spotlight stories as part of my role. It’s been a joy and privilege to highlight our incredible team members across the company, telling each of their unique stories.
Now I’ll share my own.
A New Path
Not many people know this, but I’ve interviewed with Garber two separate times.
The first time was in 2019. GMG’s Digital Marketing team was looking for a blog writer to focus on vehicle content.
Ryan Everson, Digital Marketing Director, brought me into GMG’s conference room. I met with him, then Erika Ardouin, Director of Recruiting.
I loved what they had to say. I was impressed with Ryan’s industry knowledge and forward-thinking. I enjoyed Erika’s down-to-earth, authentic personality and genuine interest in my background. I respected Garber’s mission, vision, and values.
Life twisted and turned me in a different direction. I went another route. But that wasn’t the end of my Garber journey.
Timing is everything, and in 2021, the timing was right.
Two Times’ the Charm
In March 2021, I was working at United Way of Midland County. We were on the heels of a historic flood in the community and in the midst of a global pandemic.
The work was challenging but rewarding. My colleagues were supportive and hard-working. I was not looking for a career change or company switch.
But then Robert Norcross, Website Marketing Manager on Garber’s Digital team, called me.
He left a voicemail saying they still had my resume on file from 2019. The team was looking for another writer, and would I be interested?
I appreciated his call, but I was happy at United Way. I left Robert a voicemail that said thanks but no thanks, then went about my life.
Until Robert called again.
He left me another voicemail, which I still have on my phone to this day. He was understanding about my job satisfaction with United Way. Not pushy. Not frustrated. Still, he left the door open.
“If you ever change your mind, give us a call,” he said.
My gut tugged on my heartstrings and said, “Just hear more about this opportunity.”
So I did.
A lunch at Harvey’s restaurant, an interview, and a final meeting later, and I joined the Digital Marketing team as the Digital Communications Manager.
My role at Garber was the first of its kind at our company: proof that Garber is not only willing to create roles that fit people’s natural skill sets and dreams, they are willing to adapt and try new things. Garber builds seats for the bus.
The bulk of my job focused on writing Employee Spotlight stories. In conducting nearly 100 interviews with our company’s team members, I’ve been fortunate enough to hear “straight from the horse’s mouth” about Garber.
Here are my five big takeaways from these interviews:
- One sentence can change your life. Many people I interviewed had a similar component to their story: “So and so said to me, “Hey, you should come sell cars” or “Have you ever thought about working at Garber?” All it took was one sentence or question to open the door for a person to walk into a new life. The earth doesn’t have to quake. Life changes often happen in small ripples. Pay attention to them.
- Everyone has someone that has taken a chance on them. If Robert had not left me that second voicemail, I would not have had that gut feeling to check Garber out again (thanks Robert) and step into this awesome role. Similarly, many interviewees have had someone who made an impact on their career simply by vocalizing that support. Whether it’s through a job offer, a promotion, a “I believe in you” or a listening ear, others around us help us succeed. None of us have arrived here all by ourselves. We all need someone to take a chance on us.
- Strong leadership is not defined by power and arrogance, but rather, kindness, trust, and understanding. Before I started this job, I told my friends I was interviewing at Garber. “Dick is SO nice,” they said. “Such a genuine person.” Then when I got here, interview after interview often involved a Mr. Garber story: he remembered their name. He helped clean up at their work party. He called to say happy birthday. He helped at this community event. Mr. Garber never talks about himself, and honestly? He doesn’t have to. His actions speak louder than words. Our entire leadership team goes above and beyond to get to know employees and care about them, not as employees, but as people. Successful leadership is not about closed-off attitudes and “toughen up” mantras. It’s about openness, kindness, and relatability. It’s recognizing that we are all human beings and deserve respect and appreciation. Our Garber leaders reflect that every day. Kindness trumps power.
- Advocate. Advocate for yourself. For others. For the community. I heard numerous stories of people who achieved their goals here at Garber. These stories often shared one common denominator: the employees spoke up. They voiced to their manager or leadership that they wanted to do more, they saw themselves in this role, they wanted to accomplish this goal. The support is there. You just need to serve as an advocate for your dreams.
- What do people want most? To feel seen and known. The biggest reason people stay with Garber is not pay or benefits. In fact, I rarely heard anything about either of those career factors. The reason people stay here is because they feel valued. The phrase I heard most was, “I’m not just a number here.” We all want to be seen for who we are: unique individuals who bring our own gifts and talents to the table. We have names, we have interests, we have families. Garber doesn’t just recognize that; they applaud it.
As my chapter with Garber comes to a close, I gratefully recognize that I am a better person because I have worked here. The people have welcomed me with open arms, supporting me and seeing me and valuing me for who I am. I have developed lasting friendships. I have learned poignant lessons. I have made fond memories.
I am thankful for every team member who trusted me to tell their story, and I am forever grateful for this chapter in my life.
It’s true. You really will do better at Garber.
First concert? Christina Aguilera at the Midland County Fair
Favorite meal? Burger and fries. Extra ketchup on all of it.
First car? 1989 Ford Mustang. Red exterior with cow-covered seats.
Three words to describe your personality? Enthusiastic, outgoing, inquisitive
Bucket list item? Meet a real-life sea otter. Or have dance moves as smooth as Dick Garber in Alyssa Arroyo’s TikTok (DickTok) videos. 😊