Published on Tuesday, 08 May 2012
My name is Frank Romeo, and I’m the new president of the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association (TADA), soon to be known as the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, representing 1,191 new car dealers across Ontario.
Serving my fellow dealers as president is a huge honour for me, especially during this historic occasion, when two great auto associations, the TADA and the Ontario Automobile Dealer Association, are merging to create Canada’s largest automotive association.
My career in the retail car business began when I was 14 years old, working part-time at my father’s new car dealership in Woodbridge.
At first, I did all sorts of odd jobs, such as cleaning the shop, performing oil changes and washing cars, and I learned to drive a car (including standard transmission). Those early experiences fuelled my desire to become more involved in the business.
From my teenage years into adulthood, everything about a dealership has appealed to me — the gleaming new models in the showroom, the hustle and bustle of the service bays and the fascinating mix of personalities among staff members and customers.
In January 1978, after completing a Business Administration course at Ryerson in Toronto and a General Motors dealer management development course in the U.S., I began working full-time at my father’s dealership as a service adviser. Being on the front lines was like being thrown into the deep end; that experience taught me a lot about teamwork, problem solving and how to interact with customers.
From my years in the retail car industry, I’ve had the great fortune to work closely with a mentor and a role model who has been instrumental in shaping my career. I’m speaking about my father, Dom Romeo.
Dom has provided me with great leadership, guidance and support throughout my career. Although his day-to-day involvement at the dealership has waned in recent years, Dom still comes to work most days, providing valuable leadership and serving as a kind of elder statesman.
Dom has also mentored my two brothers, Steve and Mark, in the car business. We all had the opportunity to work in all departments and gain valuable dealership experience. Today, Mark is general manager of our other family-operated Nissan dealership in Brampton.
I attribute much of my success in life to the love and support of my family, including my wife, Rosemary, and our three children, Christine, Michael and Katherine. My children all worked part-time at our dealership while attending school.
Today, my son, Michael, a graduate of the Automobile Business School of Canada’s degree program, works full-time with me, and I guess it’s my turn now to do the mentoring.
After more than 35 years in the retail car business, I’m still amazed at the improvements in automobile design, engineering, safety and performance. Front-wheel drive, traction control systems, anti-lock brakes, airbags, lane departure warning systems and longer warranties are just some of the advancements that have been introduced during my career.
One of the consistent facets of the car business is the element of change. Vehicles change. People change. Technologies and processes change.
Even dealerships change. In 2010, the Pine View Auto Group purchased a Hyundai franchise, which today operates out of the same premises as the former Pine View Pontiac franchise, at the corner of Hwy 7 and Weston Road. The dealership recently completed a major renovation to rebrand the facility to Hyundai standards.
Indeed, it’s a period of tremendous change for me, personally, for dealerships everywhere, and for our industry. In the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to discussing the changes that directly affect dealerships and consumers, and I welcome your letters and emails.
Trillium Automobile Dealers Association president Frank Romeo is a new car dealer in the GTA. This column represents the view of TADA. Visit tada.ca or email email@example.com