Welcome back to Meetin’ Wheaton Wednesdays! In this week’s edition we will be getting to know two more great people from the Wheaton Honda staff. Today we will meet two of the people who work on the Business Administration side of Wheaton Honda: Karen Germscheid and Joan Bergey! In the photo above you can see Karen on the left and Joan on the right. These two wonderful ladies handle a lot of the administrative and accounting around our Honda dealership. If you stop in to Wheaton Honda to buy a new Honda or even for Honda service, you may just run into one of them. Let’s get to know Karen and Joan!
Joan, can you tell us what your position is, and when and how you came to be working here?
Joan: I’m the controller, and it consists of all financials, making sure all financials in the company are balanced and collected. Also purchasing items. I started in 1990, I came in as a receptionist and the assistant to the controller. I left in 94′ for a 4 year period. I came back just as assistant to the controller, not receptionist. Then in 2012 I became the controller of the company.
Karen, can you tell us what your position is, and when and how you came to be working here?
Karen: I guess my official title would be business development manager, but I go outside that circle. Joanie sort of controls upstairs, I sort of control downstairs. I sort of help out sales, service, parts, training, what don’t I do, really?
Karen: I started in 1994 when Joan had left, I replaced Joan, so I was part-time receptionist and assistant to the controller. In 1996 I went into sales full-time. In 1998 I went into F&I part-time as sales administrator. Now I’m BDM and lease maturity manager. I had actually known a lot of the staff before I started here. So it was just an easy transition into here.
What do you guys think is the best thing about working at Wheaton Honda?
Joan: The people.
Karen: Definitely the people.
Joan: Without the people here, there wouldn’t be any business.
Karen: And there wouldn’t be any fun. You know, you come to work and you enjoy your day.
Joan: I don’t even call it work, I call it a playground.
Karen: Pretty much.
Joan: It’s one big family, it’s just like having a hundred brothers and sisters.
Joan: You’ve got your little squabbles, you’ve got your laughter, you’ve got your crying, you’ve got your fighting. It’s a family.
Karen: You’ve got your pranking.
Who is doing pranking here?
Joan: Both of us.
Karen: We all do.
Joan: There’s not one person in this building that doesn’t.
Karen: Or is not involved one way or another.
What kind of pranks do you guys pull?
Joan: Sneaking up on people…
Karen: You know three-hole punches are just a wealth of supplies. There’s nothing like shoving three-hole punch paper into people’s vents. Especially on a hot day.
Joan: Filling them full of balloons…
Karen: Balloons, we’ve done that.
Joan: Stuffing their office full of balloons so they can’t get in on their birthdays.
Karen: Giving people misinformation just to see how gullible they are.
What is your favourite memory of working at Wheaton Honda?
Karen: Warren Cairns got locked in our breezeway.
Karen: In the service drive through, and at that time Glen Connolly was our GM. Warren was going to check the tire and lube center to make sure the doors were locked. He wasn’t thinking that the drive through doors locked automatically, so he went and checked the doors. Then he went to get back into the dealership and he couldn’t, he was locked inside. He was locking up for the night so all the dealership doors were locked as well. So after about 20 minutes he finally called Glen since Glen was the closest one at the time. I remember we laughed for weeks after he got locked in and Glen had to come in and open the door for him.
Joan: I remember hiding in Glen’s office. He was coming in late and I made sure the lights were all off. I sat there and waited and waited. He opened the door, I jumped right out. Well, he hit the wall.
Joan: He screamed so loud like a little girl!
Joan: We loved to pick on Glen. We like to pick on Ted too.
Karen: With Ted its more of verbally stressing him out. Then it’s just like, “oh, just kidding.”
Joan: You’ll tell him a story that sounds so true. He came in one day and I can’t remember what it was, but it came across as “It had happened.” And he’s in a panic, then I started laughing and walked away.
Karen: Yeah, “that’s not funny.”
Joan: He can sometimes be gullible so you toy with him. He was in my office just recently and he said “I need something” and I said “well, I need five bucks.” So he takes out five bucks and puts it on my desk. And I said “Well thanks, I needed that for the draw. Now what can I do for you?”
So was it a draw like a United Way draw?
Joan: Yes it was a United Way draw
Backstory on Wheaton Honda’s United Way Involvement
Mr. Wheaton’s mantra was that for every eight hour day you should give one hour back to the community, so he was always a very charitable fellow. He was always very big on making sure everyone was involved in giving back to the community, especially if we’re doing quite well for ourselves then we should help those that are less fortunate.
So Mr. Wheaton’s charity of choice was the United Way because he liked how the United Way operates, it helps so many different people in so many aspects. The United Way is basically just one overarching being that helps different groups, and it’s especially focused on families.
Mr. Wheaton sat on the United Way board for a number of years, and he was the chairman of the board eventually. That is now carried on by the rest of the Wheaton family. So that has always been our charity of choice for the group.
So you guys both chair our United Way committee together, so tell us about the United Way and our involvement?
Karen: We try to do at least two big events and some little ones here and there. We’ve held random draws for stuff. We obviously have the barbeques…
Joan: The chili dinner…
Karen: We did trick or treat one year for Halloween. We just bought about a hundred random gifts in boxes and basically you bid on a box. So you had no idea if it would be a trick or a treat. A trick was something like a package of microwave popcorn. For treats we had real prizes like gift certificates and some of our suppliers donated some stuff. The Christmas before last we did the 12 Days of Christmas, so I talked to our suppliers and got them to donate some stuff. We raised a lot of money and we split it up, putting part toward the Christmas bureau and part toward the United Way because we felt there were a lot of kids in need.
Tell us about the chili luncheon.
Joan: They paid for their chili lunch and we brought in chili and buns.
Karen: And nachos and cheese.
Joan: And it’s just a nice thing where everyone can come around and eat together.
Karen: Yeah, you know, everyone gets busy, we’ve grown so much obviously. So service sometimes doesn’t know sales, sales doesn’t always know service, so it’s a way to kind of keep a connection there.
So what was the premise of the fundraising today in conjunction with the staff appreciation barbeque?
Karen: So what we did is we purchased three gifts and we sold tickets to raise money for the United Way. It was kind of fun because we published what the gifts were but you weren’t buying a ticket for a particular prize, you had a chance of winning one of the three prizes. So it kind of put a little twist on it. It just makes it a little fun.
What Honda vehicle would you recommend to a customer?
Karen: The Honda CR-V, hands down. I think the CR-V is just so versatile. Whether you need to use it as a people mover or to go pick up stuff at the home depot or you need to go pickup flowers, or whatever, it fits every need. I love it. I have it as a demo every winter. I like the 4-wheel drive, plus I live out of town so you know, the clearance and whatnot is great. I love the CR-V.
Joan: The Honda Accord Coupe. It comes with a V-6 and it goes fast. I like it as an automatic, I don’t have time for shifting. I can’t smoke and shift at the same time.
Joan: It’s a comfortable ride, and very reliable.
Why do you think people should come to Wheaton Honda?
Joan: Because of the people. I’ve been downstairs and I walk through that service department and I’ve heard numerous customers, I’ve even been called over by some of them, who said that when they came in here they felt like they were walking into home. They felt like they had confident people behind the counters, that anybody they talked to knew what they were talking about, and they were quite happy with the service and with the customer service that all the employees provide.
Karen: And I think on the flip side, the sales side, there’s just no pressure. We’re here to help you buy a car, I mean, anyone can sell you a car. We’re a no pressure environment, it’s like we’re trying to listen to you and get you what we can.
What kind of stuff do you guys like to do outside of work?
Karen: Camping would be a lot of what we do. We both camp. I quad.
Joan: I garden and I love my dog.
Joan: You can’t forget. It’s Ned!
Karen: Summer is very important to us, we’re busy in the summertime. Wintertime is our time to kick back and relax.
There you have it! Joan and Karen are two great ladies in business administration who love the charity work we do and love their jobs (and pranking). We hope you enjoyed getting to know Joan and Karen, and next time you are looking for a new car or service, stop into Wheaton Honda and say hello.
It was great meeting Joan and Karen, two more of the good people here at Wheaton Honda. Stop back next week for another edition of Meetin’ Wheaton Wednesdays.