Published on Saturday, 26 April 2014
My name is Bob Verwey and I am the new President of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, which represents 1,100 new car dealers across Ontario. I am also the President of Whitby-based Owsasco Inc., which includes several new car franchises, a collision center, an RV Dealership and an RV rental station in Durham.
It is an honour and a privilege to serve the TADA, the largest new car association in Canada. This definitely ranks as one of the highlights of my career in the automobile industry.
My journey in the car business has been rather unconventional, filled with challenges, setbacks, achievements and joys. My love affair with cars began at an early age. At 12, I was rebuilding engines, and a few years later, I built an entire Volkswagen pickup from scratch.
In high school, I took automotive repair and ran the school's auto shop for a while, changing the oil and performing light repairs on teachers' cars, then invoicing them for the work (I think we turned a profit!).
Working summers and right out of high school in a family run dealership, I became an interprovincial licensed automotive technician by the age of 20.
A few years later, still in my 20s, I became a service advisor, a job that I enjoyed and excelled at for 10 years. During that decade, I was mentored by a talented service manager who had a profound influence on my career. I'll write more about mentoring in a future column.
After working as a service advisor, I changed careers again and entered the sales side of the business. I've always enjoyed being around and helping people, and that desire to help others contributed to a banner first year in selling cars.
In 1992, an ownership opportunity presented itself, and my brother (Frank) and I became owners in a VW franchise in Pickering. Two years later, we purchased the original Audi VW franchise. Sadly, Frank passed away in 1995, and my Brother, John, became a partner in the original first dealership.
Over the past few decades, the Owasco and Pickering VW name has earned a reputation for excellence in customer satisfaction and service, and for community involvement. In 2001, we expanded into a large RV center, including rentals by Highway 401. In 2003, I took the big step to separate the brands and built three new buildings for Audi, VW, and a collision center.
In 2013, we completed our Second renovation at our Pickering VW location to the new White Frame Design from VW. Today, we are out of space again and looking for the next move.
We rent motor homes, RV and camper vans to Canadians, Americans, and do a brisk business with Europeans who love to come and explore the beauty of Ontario. Every season, our fleet total kilometres are over 1 million -- that’s a lot of tourism.
A key reason for the success of our dealerships and RV business has been our co-workers, whose passion, skills, talent and dedication are exemplary; each member of our teams contribute every day to our ongoing success.
At our dealerships, it is a family affair. My wife, Susan, is a partner and works in the accounting department. My son, Bob Jr., is a sales manager; my son, Mark, is a service manager; and my daughter, Amy, is rental manager and works in sales in the RV business. But I believe the family is the family of Co-Workers.
In the automobile and RV business, every day is an adventure. I am thrilled work with men and women who are passionate and committed as I am about delivering great products and services.
I look forward to fulfilling my role as President of the TADA, and to sharing my stories and adventures with readers in the months ahead.