Employee Spotlights are a new initiative to highlight dedicated team members across the company. Nominated by their leaders at all locations, these employees reflect Garber’s company values through actions and attitude. Every one of our team members has a story. Read below to learn more about Luciano “Primo” Garcia, sales associate at Sunrise Chevrolet in Glendale Heights, Illinois.
Luciano “Primo” Garcia had a problem.
It was 1997. Garber had just taken over the Illinois dealership Primo was working for, and things were changing for the better—but it required taking a few steps outside of his comfort zone.
“I was a salesman, but I didn’t have a lot of training,” Garcia said. “But when Garber came, they had me participate in different sales trainings.”
Primo wasn’t used to going to trainings and meetings. He felt like he knew what he was doing without the training.
But after one conversation, his perspective changed.
“What’s Going to Happen to the Plant?”
“Mr. Garber came into town—he visited the dealership every three to four months— and he would sit at my desk and talk to me,” Primo said. “I was so impressed because he was so humble and would spend time with the employees; he knew my wife and daughter’s name.
“He asked me, ‘So is anything wrong?’
“I said, ‘I do have one thing to say: there’s too much training.’
“Mr. Garber smiled and said, ‘Luciano, let me tell you one thing: If you have a plant and you stop putting water in it, what’s going to happen to the plant?’
“I said, ‘Well, obviously the plant is going to stop growing because it won’t get what it needs.’
“He said, ‘It’s the same with you: If I don’t give you what you need, you will stop growing. I want you to grow and be better and stronger.’
“And it’s true. When you have a plant, you have to keep giving it water. When you are an employee, you have to keep training and improving.
“After that, I never complained about too much training.”
It was his work in car sales that got Luciano his nickname. He started working at the dealership in 1992. He stayed on when Garber took over in 1997 and renamed the dealership Sunrise Chevrolet.
“My name is Luciano, but everyone knows me as Primo because in the 1990s, we would have a TV spot where people would come in and we’d say, ‘You’re my primo,’ which is sort of like saying, ‘Everyone is family here.’”
Primo came to the United States with his father when he was 9 years old. His mother stayed in Mexico. He didn’t know English, but his father needed him to work…so Primo got a job as a busboy at a diner instead of going to school.
“When I was a busboy, I’d get a quarter as a tip and I’d be SO happy,” he said.
After working at the diner, Primo got a gig helping set up and clean up weddings and events. That’s where he got introduced to the automobile business.
“I met someone who said they were looking for car salespeople,” he said. “They said, ‘Do you know how to use a calculator?’ and I thought, “Well, yeah, one plus one.’”
Primo got hired at the dealership, but he felt like a fish out of water at first. Up to that point, he had never owned a car, let alone sold one.
“When I started working at the dealership, I always sat in the far back of the room during the meetings,” he said. “My English was not 100%. A lot of the words I didn’t know. I had never owned a car in my life. But at dealerships, it helps to have bilingual staff. I started helping translate for people who spoke Spanish, and as I was helping them, I was learning more English.”
Primo started to take a proactive approach to his role.
As Primo gained more experience, he gained more responsibilities.
“I saw what people were saying, and I would take notes. I started to think, ‘If they can do it, I can do it,’” he said. “I challenged myself, and eventually, I got a promotion to new car sales manager. Nowadays, I want to show up and shine. My goal is to not disappoint the Garber group.”
After starting in the industry as a car salesperson in 1992, he got promoted in 1997 to new car sales manager. He added lease manager to his sales role in 1999, and in 2019, he started training in finance. Along with his lease and sales roles, he became the assistant fleet manager in March 2020. Currently, Primo is completing his training to reach his goal of becoming a full-time finance manager.
Primo said his life is a reflection of what can happen with the right attitude.
“I didn’t know anything about cars, and now I’m living the American Dream.”
Changing for the Better
Primo said working for Garber has made him a better person.
“Before, I was thinking for myself and making money,” he said. “But now I understand people. I’ve become more understanding, not just in the automobile business, but in life. If a family member needs help, I can put myself in their shoes and try to figure out what I can do to help them.”
The conversation that changed it all for Primo—the one with Dick Garber about the plant and growth—has stuck with him for years. He said it is one of his favorite memories.
“When Mr. Garber asked me how a plant grows, he wow’ed me. Mr. Garber taught me that I need to grow,” he said. “I look to myself first: What can I do to change? You can only control yourself. You can’t control other people. You need to take ownership and think, I am part of this company. If you take ownership of what you do, you become successful. If you don’t move forward, it’s not because of the company…it’s because of you.”
Job title? Right now I do four jobs at Sunrise Chevrolet: salesperson, assistant finance manager, fleet department, and lease return manager. I like it because it keeps me busy. People tell me to slow down, but last year was my best year out of 29 years. I like staying busy and doing better for myself.
What are some things the dealership does for employees that you appreciate? One thing we do every year is have a Christmas party and we can bring our spouses. There’s a DJ and music. We’re also working this year on doing a picnic and every member of the family is welcome. During the summer time, we have cookouts outside and it’s a free meal for everybody. Garber is a company that shares. We aren’t just a company where they take something out of you; they give back to the employees.
What are three things you can’t live without (aside from food, water, air…)? Family, my spiritual beliefs, my job.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you? People would be surprised by my age. I’m 49-years-old but people think I’m older because I have gray hair, and I’ve been here for so long because I started so young.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and who gave it to you? Garber taught me to stay humble and stay hungry. Life’s not about what you have or the car you drive or the money you make. You need to be respectful and do things the right way. This job is my livelihood. The automobile business is where I’ve learned to become who I am.