Being part of something bigger than herself has always been important to Élisabeth Lambert, and that’s why she enjoys being involved in the auto care industry.
Lambert is not only the Vice President and General Manager of Pièces d’Auto Joliette, but also the first woman to chair AIA Canada’s Quebec division. “I think we can make a difference in our industry, share our positive experience and passion to other people, especially young people,” she says. “That’s what motivates me.”
She came to Pièces d’Auto thirteen years ago, an auto parts store that had been family owned and operated for over 80 years. There was no one to take over after the third generation, so Lambert was hired and has become a co-owner. “We have a great team of 30 employees, and we’re a leader in our region,” she states proudly. On a day-to-day basis, there are many challenges in her fast-paced schedule that appeal to Lambert. Pièces d’Auto is a small business that impacts the lives of many families in the community, and that’s also important to her.
Updated business routines
Lambert never thought she’d wind up in the automotive industry, but once she got her feet wet, she realized there were many opportunities and jumped right in. Since starting in the business, she has implemented a number of changes to update the store’s processes and image. “When I got here, we were behind many others just due to technology,” she recalls. “For example, we started sending monthly statements by email and that really made a difference.” With updated business routines, the shop has become more efficient.
She also updated the look of the store, by providing employees with branded shirts. “It gave us a more unified, dynamic look,” Lambert notes. “It changed the way people saw us. Clients love to see us looking up to date.”
As part of her role at AIA Canada, Lambert co-founded in 2018 an internship fair for students doing their D.V.S. in automotive mechanics at the Centre de formation professionelle de l’Argile in Joliette. This initiative has been the inspiration for the recent AIA Canada Quebec Division initiative, AIA Canada Day, which consists of visiting various vocational training centers (VTCs) in Quebec to speak to students about the various career opportunities in the aftermarket industry. And while the outreach is not specifically aimed only at young women, Lambert has seen more women coming into the industry because they saw them at different schools and realized there were great opportunities in the auto care industry. “Our industry is not as well known as it should be, so we have to talk about it,” notes Lambert. “It’s something I really like to do, reaching out to students and teachers.”
She is quick to credit a number of people for helping her along the way. First and foremost, Lambert appreciates her two partners at Pièces d’Auto, for everything they’ve taught her. Then there’s Patrick St. Pierre and Mario Comtois, both former chairs of the AIA Canada Quebec Division, as well as Nadine Collette, formerly of Uni-Select, who was the first woman to be part of their sales department in Quebec.
“I really feel privileged to have had so many good people on my path that helped me, believed in me and told me I could do it,” Lambert says. “Sometimes you just have to jump in. It may be scary but when you know people believe in you, it helps.”