Dealership Employer of Choice: Recognizing Excellence

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Jeff Doran, President, Corporate Culture and Employer of Choice and Recognition (CCEOC). Photos AutoCanada, CCEOC, Huw Evans

Awards celebrate dealerships that consistently invest in their people. 

A big announcement in 2024 has been a new partnership between Autosphere Media and the Dealership Employer of Choice awards program 

Created by Corporate Culture and Employer of Choice Recognition (CCEOC), winning the Dealership Employer of Choice award is a major feat for a Canadian automotive retail organization. It represents an opportunity to showcase the efforts automotive dealers have made in creating vibrant, dynamic organizations that invest in their people, and deliver superior service. 

Recognition and advantage 

Being named a Dealership Employer of Choice not only provides national brand recognition, but also enables those recognized as winners in this category to have a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting top industry talent. Additional benefits include reduced employee turnover, lower operating costs, a more engaged and committed workforce, and increased productivity, which in turn, translates to higher CSI and customer loyalty over the longer term.

For 2024, CCEOC and Autosphere celebrate and congratulate the five winners in the Dealership Employer of Choice Awards category. These are their stories: 


A well-known automotive retail group based in Edmonton, Alta., AutoCanada has expanded to become the largest publicly traded dealer group in Canada and the U.S. with multiple roof tops in provinces across the country, including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. “Our network is made up of 83 franchised dealerships, 32 collision and hail centres, plus 17 RightRide and Used Digital Locations,” explains Jenn Lennox, Vice President, People & Culture at AutoCanada. 

Lennox explains that AutoCanada’s People & Culture Team takes the employee experience to heart by ensuring that, “our Talent Acquisition members remain focused on finding the best candidates to fill roles within the organization.” She notes that a major key to success lies in having a team of individuals that align with AutoCanada’s core values. 

Being a recipient of the 2024 Dealership Employer of Choice award, she says, makes everyone at AutoCanada very proud. “The award was won based on a survey of our team members and if they’re pleased to be here, that’s ultimately what we’re trying accomplish—having a happy and dedicated team.” 

Capital Auto Group 

At Capital Auto Group (CAG), based in St. John’s Nfld., the emphasis is not only on hiring talent for today, but for the future. “That’s why we’ve developed a dedicated Human Resources (HR) team to act as a lead for each department’s personnel needs,” explains Diana Tibbo, Director of HR at CAG. A major goal at Capital Auto Group is to create their own internal training centre. Tibbo acknowledges that this will be a first in the competitive automotive retail landscape, providing an opportunity to identify the learning needs and wants, as well as recognizing the potential in new hires and existing staff, enabling them to grow into leadership and high profile, performance-oriented roles. 

“This will be executed through a structured online and in-person training plan focused on skills development and knowledge,” says Tibbo. “The goal will be to continue this training throughout one’s employment, keeping succession planning in mind.” 

Tibbo notes that the Employer of Choice program has proved highly beneficial for Capital Auto Group. “A key benefit 

for us, is to be able to share this with our employees. By doing so, we hope it serves as a further point of pride and recognition that they’re a part of a leading organization. In addition, from a management level, the discussions around the award have served to help sharpen our focus on areas of improvement that may be identified in the survey results.” In being named a Dealership Employer of Choice for 2024, Tibbo says that the group is extremely proud of this achievement. “Our people are our focus. So, while it’s not an outlined goal to win awards, this is one that makes us immensely proud. We work hard each day to try and push our company and industry forward, so this award means a lot.” 

Palladino Group 

Palladino Auto Group, which is based in the Greater Sudbury Area in Ontario, and has multiple locations, was recognized as an Employer of Choice for 2024. According to Marissa Holla, Director of Human Resources, Palladino Auto Group decided to enroll three of its dealership locations in the program and saw some very significant benefits in being part of it. 

One of the key things, notes Holla, was the greater awareness of opportunities being in the program provided. “We were able to showcase opportunities [available at PAG] to the wider community of professionals,” she explains. 

Additionally, being part of Employer of Choice enhanced Palladino Auto Group’s reputation, drawing attention to the organization as a growing, elite and professional dealership group within the province of Ontario. Holla explains that besides recognition, Employer of Choice has also been extremely helpful in PAG identifying areas within the organization where improvements can be made and best practices can be adopted on an ongoing basis, due to the detailed information available from the EOC survey program. In being named an Employer of Choice for 2024, Holla says that PAG, “is truly honoured to be recognized with like organizations who are elevating professional employment in the automotive industry.” And, she states, “look forward to fulfilling this reputation as a key part of the future of the Palladino Auto Group, including our dealerships, teams and families that our organization supports.” 

Steele Auto Group 

Steele Auto Group, Atlantic Canada’s largest dealer of new and used vehicles, has an established practice of focusing on continuously improving talent processes to deliver a recruiting experience that’s second-to-none in the industry, both for employees and HR staff. Ruth Meagher, Director of Human Resources at Steele Auto Group says that the organization has developed a solid process of creating succession plans for pivotal roles within the group, which includes a dedicated commitment to promoting talent from within. 

Meagher notes that the size of an organization like Steele Auto Group provides significant advantages for employees to advance, with a wide range of roles and opportunities available. The group also provides a specific Road to Red Seal program for technician apprentices, including those pursuing careers in automotive service and collision repair/painting. ““Through the Road to Red Seal program, apprentice auto technicians and collision centre technicians/painters are provided with a wage top up program to help alleviate the financial impact by supplementing their income while they are attending school for training,” says Meagher. Regarding the Dealership Employer of Choice program, Meagher notes that it has proved a great tool for attracting new talent, employee retention and a, “fantastic recognition opportunity for our existing employees.” 

She explains that Steele Auto Group is committed to being industry leaders with a people first approach to business. “We are so proud of our teams across all 61 of our locations. Each dealership features a unique culture and identity, but we share the same values across the group: People, Innovation, Customer Experience and Community. We are proud to be recognized among our peers as an Employer of Choice.” 

Subaru of Windsor 

Subaru of Windsor, part of the Leavens Automotive Group, operates out of a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility on Sylvestre Drive in Tecumseh. The dealership uses a variety of channels to attract talent, including online job boards, the company website, and social media channels. “We go through comprehensive training to make sure our employees are fully ready for the job at hand, and that’s completed before they officially start helping customers,” explains Geoff Trojand, General Manager, Subaru Windsor. Ongoing training is a cornerstone of the business, including workshops, seminars and online courses. “We provide clear paths for career advancement within the company,” says Trojand. 

He notes that the Dealership Employer of Choice program helps in both retaining employees and building long term customer relationships, since happy employees are productive. This, in turn, reflects well on the business, and cultivates a solid reputation and a loyal client base. “Being Recognized as an Employer of Choice is a sense of pride and validation,” says Trojand. “It acknowledges the efforts made to create a positive work environment and to invest in our employees’ well-being and development.” 



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