Welcome to our latest edition of Meetin’ Go Wednesdays! This week we will be meeting some more of the good people at Wheaton Honda. In this edition, we will get to know the Clark family: our General Manager Ted and his two wonderful children Ian, our Pre-Owned Sales Manager, and Shannon, one of our Financial Services Managers. In the photo above, from left to right you can see Ian Clark, Ted Clark, and Shannon Clark. We’ll be asking the Clarks some questions to get to know them as a family and individually. This way you will know a little about the Clarks the next time you stop into our dealership to buy a new Honda.
When and how did each of you start working at Wheaton Honda?
Ted: I started working with the Gos in February of 2001 as a used car manager at the GM store, South Park Pontiac on Whyte Avenue, and I worked there for 9 years. They promoted me to general manager of this dealership in 2010. So I started here in February of 2010.
Ian: I started working at Wheaton Honda also in 2010. Before that I was working at South Park Pontiac as a used car buyer, and then at Don Go Chevrolet as a used car manager. Then in 2010 the opportunity came about to come over here and work with the existing used car manager. So it’s just been an ongoing process since then.
Shannon: I started in April of this year, so I’ve actually only been with the dealership for 4 months. Truth be told, I came here because of family. I don’t have an ulterior motive other than that.
Shannon: The opportunity came up to work with my dad and my brother, and I thought it was going to be the most fun thing in the world, so I absolutely jumped on board.
What made you want to start working in automotive in general?
Shannon: Automotive in general is actually something I’ve avoided most of my life.
Shannon: I come from a family where the automotive industry runs in the blood. I tried doing a whole bunch of different things for a lot of years, and most of it was sales related. But I was the kid who went to University and tried doing all kinds of things to be independent and spread my wings. The automotive industry eventually just comes calling to all of us I suppose. So I’ve done drips and drams of it in the past, but I’m here now permanently and I’m having a lot of fun.
Ted: It was my father. My father was a sales manager for a mobile home company in the mid 70’s. I was looking for a career as a crazy young man, and he had a friend who was a business associate that ran the loan department at the bank of Nova Scotia. He was talking to this gentleman about me and suggested I might like to try sales. He got me an interview with West Town Ford in 1977 and I went to work for Peter Pocklington. That was my first job in the car industry; I lasted for 3 months and then left because I didn’t do a very good job of it. I decided to give my hand another try at it again in 1979 and I’ve pretty much been in it ever since.
Ian: Well I’ve always had a love for cars ever since I was a kid, with my father being in the car industry as I was growing up. I used to take my homework and peddle my bike to the used car lot and do my homework in the used car shack, and it kind of just evolved from there.
What do you think is the best thing about Wheaton Honda?
Ian: I think there’s a lot of really good long-term employment here, a lot of grassroots, people that have worked together successfully for, you know, 15, 20, 30 years in some cases. Anytime you have a mix of people that can do that successfully you usually have a great team and that’s the best thing I think about working at Wheaton Honda.
Shannon: Well, I guess being the new kid on the block, I have to agree with Ian. I know it’s not an original answer, but the people here are so much fun to work with. Everybody has a lot of fun working together and every day is just filled with laughter and I think that’s one of the best things about coming to work every day. Every day is different and, you know, we get to help people all day long and we get to do it with a smile on our faces, so I think that’s the best thing about this place.
Ted: Well, I have to say I concur with both my children. I think the people are what makes the business and makes any good business. The atmosphere around here is like one big happy family, and I appreciate that as I’ve worked at a number of dealerships that weren’t like that. I would say my staff is full of very dedicated individuals who have the best interest of not only Wheaton Honda, but also our clientele and it goes a long way to run a successful organization. I’m very happy to be a part of it.
A lot of people have talked about the atmosphere and how the team is like their family. What’s it like to actually be able to work with your family everyday?
Ted: It’s fun! I have to say it’s something that I probably didn’t think would happen earlier in my career. We have a very, very close family and as they grow up, like most families, we separate and don’t get a chance to see each other as often as we would like in social events or the odd Sunday meal. Being able to work with my children is very unique and interesting, and I like the opportunity. It can be challenging, obviously for many different reasons…
Ted: but for the most part I am very happy with the experience. I’m proud of my children for being able to work with their dad and accomplish what they’ve accomplished in their lives. Both of them are very successful and they do a great job for us.
Ian: Yeah, I started my career in wholesale and worked my way into retail and moved to Grande Prairie for a number of years. The opportunity just arose to come back to Edmonton and it happened to arise with the same dealer group that my father was involved in. It just has worked out wonderfully, we’ve been working together now for the last 8 years and we’ve been doing it with great success. I’m very happy and proud to work with my father and I’ve learned an awful lot by doing so.
Shannon: Working with family, again, like Ian said, not necessarily a planned event. I’m really enjoying working with my brother and my dad, I don’t see them all that often during our day to day activities, mostly because we all work in completely different departments. You know, and having my dad as my boss certainly wasn’t something I ever thought would happen. But you know what? My dad is right. We all get along ridiculously well and we are a very close family. And being able to see each other every day even if it ‘s just in passing has been a real treasure because life is so ridiculously busy and complicated these days and being able to have that is really, really nice.
Do you guys have any fun or funny traditions?
Ted: That’s a tough question. Do we have any fun or funny traditions?
Shannon: We have tons of traditions. Christmas always comes to mind first.
Ian: Christmas was for a long time. Now that I’m married and have my own family I have to split my time between two sides of the family, that’s just the way that works.
Shannon: We still do Sunday suppers though.
Ted: From time to time.
Shannon: Yes, you’re right it’s not as often as it used to be.
Ted: I do get to see my children more often though. My wife and I got into jet boating a few years ago, and since we have the boat that seems to be a nice draw for the family to get together and enjoy a day on the river.
Shannon: You bribe us.
Ian: With boat rides.
Ian: Volleyball for Uncle Bob’s birthday.
Shannon: Yeah, Volleyball on Boxing Day. Lately we’ve been trying to do September vacations in Kelowna. We often end up going as a family during that time. Or New Year’s we go skiing. You know skiing together has always been something we’ve loved to do. Boating has been recent. And anything involving a good bottle of wine.
Ted: My favorite thing now is to play with my 7 month old granddaughter that was born on December 15, 5 days before my birthday, so that’s going to be a busy time of year for us. She’s a treasure and I get a lot of enjoyment out of my life, we both do.
Shannon: Yeah, we fight over her.
Are there any other favorite activities that you guys have outside of work?
Ian: Music, even though I don’t play as much as I used to. I still enjoy playing the guitar or sometimes even getting out my drum kit and playing that. Karaoke is also something I’ve always enjoyed.
Shannon: Yeah, you and I are total karaoke stars.
Ted: You don’t want to hear me sing.
Shannon: Yeah, the music in our family got passed down from Opa, our mom’s dad.
Ted: And Loretta.
Ian: And Auntie Loretta. So, yeah, music has been a big part of my life and I know for Shannon’s as well. That’s certainly something we both enjoy.
Shannon: And I think that mom and I really share a kinship when it comes to health and fitness stuff. We’re real gym buffs and healthy eating buffs and that’s kind of our favorite hobby outside of actual play time. We’re both pretty serious about that.
Ted: My wife and I have been married for 34 years and 99% of the things we do outside of work are done together. We love to golf and walk, and we’ve already talked about jet boating and that’s something we do as often as we can. We really like camping still, and we actually camp on the boat which is different. We find a beach to pull up to. We pull our barbeque out, set up the campsite, cook a meal, have a glass of wine, and watch the sun go down. Then we go boating the next day. And we just have a lot of fun with that. So we travel a lot and enjoy each other’s company. We’d consider each other best friends and we look forward to spending every day with each other.
Siblings usually have a pretty interesting relationship. Shannon and Ian, what is your biggest pet peeve about the other one?
Ian: Trips in the car were always fun.
Shannon: Yeah, I think most of our pet peeves about each other stem from when we were kids. I don’t think we have too many now. We’ve kind of mellowed out in our middle age.
Ian: There’s not too much that we don’t see eye to eye on now. Of course, there’s more when you’re 8 and 10 years old in the back of the car on a family road trip. You know, you’ve crossed over to my half of the seat and that’s wrong so I’m going to let you know.
Shannon: And I’m going to scream in your ear because I think that it’s funny.
Ian: So now, there’s not much anymore. When you’re kids and you’re siblings you have these things. But as you grow up you start to appreciate your siblings more and find a lot of parallels in life, and I think my sister and I have done that.
So what is your favorite thing about the other one?
Shannon: My absolute favorite thing about my brother? I think that just how genuine he is. My brother is a very honest and straightforward person and he has never been one to sugarcoat how he feels, whether it’s good or bad. Especially as we get older and we start sharing things, like raising kids and dealing with spouses, all that fun stuff that comes with growing up. Other than my husband, I think that he’s really become my best friend outside of my personal relationship. I just know that if I ever need to talk something out or if I need someone or a shoulder, I know that he’ll be there.
Ian: Your commitment to what you do. It didn’t matter if it was school, art, music, your job, you’ve always had a fantastic level of commitment to anything that you put your mind to. Far exceeding any level of commitment that I could find when we were younger.
Shannon: You were a free spirit.
Ian: With age, obviously, that has improved. But, Shannon, you’ve always been focused and you’ve always been driven. And anything that you put your mind to you have succeeded in. And I think that’s one of the best qualities you have and I really admire that about you.
Now that we’ve gotten to know you as a family, we’ll get back to the dealership and cars for the last couple questions. Which Honda vehicle would each of you recommend most?
Ted: I think the all new 2016 Pilot has the greatest technology, the biggest change in a vehicle that I’ve seen Honda make since I’ve been involved with Honda. I think it’s a beautifully styled vehicle and I think it’s going to sell very well for us. That’s the vehicle from Honda that I’d recommend.
Ian: Well, for me it would be the fastest, and that’s going to be the Accord V6 Coupe in a stick because it is just buckets of fun to drive. It’s just enjoyable. It’s got a nice smooth shifting gear box and it handles nicely around corners. I’m a younger guy and I still like performance vehicles, and I’d certainly put that in a lineup with any kind of performance coupe. That particular car is a lot of fun.
Shannon: That’s so weird, you and I agree on something. But for me its an automatic because I can’t drive stick.
Shannon: Yeah, actually the Accord Sport V6 was the first car I had the chance to take home and drive when I first started with Honda. I have been driving a small little four banger Civic for the last 5 years, so to get in that thing and be able to take it for a spin was a lot of fun. But, yeah, I don’t drive stick so I’m stuck with my lot I guess.
Why should customers want to come to Wheaton Honda?
Ted: Customers should come to Wheaton Honda because of the experienced long-term employees that offer exceptional service in sales or in service and parts. The tenure of the people I have working for me is extraordinary in the industry, and the knowledge of the people working here is second to no other dealership that I’ve ever seen.
Ian: Plain and simple, if you come here, you’re not going to be pressured to buy a car or into making a decision. We’re not here to force anything upon anybody. We’re here to try and get people the best information that we possibly can. Yes I know it’s a car dealer and yes I know dollars come into play, but the level of customer service and comfort that you’ll find in this atmosphere is exceptional. It’s a place where you can come and have a good experience buying a car.
Shannon: Yeah I agree, and I think that customers who come here should expect to leave with a smile on their face. You know, we enjoy our jobs here, we have a lot of fun. It is like one big family and we want to welcome anybody to that little family. We want our clients to feel like they got a good deal, they had a good experience, and that they’re happy about their purchase. That’s our goal at the end of the day, and I think that we do that almost every time.
That’s Ted, Ian, and Shannon Clark, a wonderful close knit family who love to spend time together and enjoy serving our customers here at Wheaton Honda. We are so glad we could get to know the Clark family this week. Whether you are looking for a new car or pre-owned vehicle, say hi to the Clarks the next time you stop into Wheaton Honda. They’ll be happy to see you.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Ted, Ian and Shannon this week. Check back again next week for our next edition of Meetin’ Go Wednesdays.