The Unobvious Ones is a monthly look at movers and shakers who fly below the radar in the Canadian auto industry.
DANIEL DA SILVA
INVESTING HIMSELF IN A LONG-TERM SALES CAREER
Daniel Da Silva believes that to sell a product, you must first sell yourself. That helped him progress from his first sales job to his current career as general sales manager at Midtown Honda in Toronto.
“I’m in charge of the newand used-car departments,” he said. “I wear a bunch of hats, including purchasing used vehicles, appraising vehicles, greeting customers and closing deals. Although I have the title, I work just like my colleagues beside me and I get into the trenches.”
Da Silva, 37, had always been a car enthusiast and realized that one of his best assets was his ability to communicate.
“In my last year of high school, I had a tough decision. Most of my friends were going to university, but I didn’t think it would benefit me. I wanted a job that wouldn’t limit [my income], and I picked sales. I knew if I could present myself well, I had a future.”
He took a co-op program in 1999, sponsored by Dalt’s Honda — now Midtown — Canada’s first Honda dealership.
“Traditionally when you do a dealership [co-op] you do a mechanical program, but I’m not handy and I don’t like to fix cars. I asked my teacher if I could speak to the dealer principal, and I got an opportunity to work in the parts department.”
Through the program, he got a sales position at the dealership in 2000 and eventually achieved “Grand Master” status as one of Honda’s top sales reps in the country. In 2009, he was promoted to sales manager, and then to general sales manager about a year ago. “People ask, ‘How are you at one store for almost 20 years?’ Ultimately, it’s an investment. This is a career, and something worth having doesn’t come fast.”
WAXING POETIC ABOUT WAXING VEHICLES
It’s quite a stretch to go from enhancing complexions to waxing cars, but Reanne Rizzuto seamlessly made the transition. A former territory manager for a cosmetics company, Rizzuto, 40, and her husband, Edward Marchese, now own JS Auto Detail and JS Auto Media in Burnaby, B.C.
“When you have the pride of your own business, you want to be hands-on,” she said. “I saw the guys doing the detailing and said, if they can wax cars, so can I.”
Marchese was working as a manager in industrial supplies but wanted to own his own business. When a detail shop came up for sale two-and-ahalf years ago, the couple purchased it.
They subsequently added the media company, which schedules and prepares press vehicles for locally based auto writers to drive, and Rizzuto was thrilled with the addition.
“I had been a salesperson and I missed interaction with people, so I had the best of both worlds. I meet people and they’re talking about cars, which I’m passionate about, and if the media fleet comes in and there’s a scratch, I can fix it up.”
Rizzuto trained for a year and a half to learn every aspect of the business. She now supplies vehicles to TV and film companies to be used on screen, and became so adept at matching paint on vehicle repairs that she has a waiting list of customers.
“If someone told me 10 years ago, I would be an auto detailer, I’d bet a million dollars it wouldn’t be me. I was always dressed up, in high heels, and now I’m grinding it out. The challenge is that there’s just not enough time in the day when I’m working on projects.”
HOW MUCH WILL A VEHICLE DEPRECIATE? HE CAN TELL YOU
Knowing what a vehicle will be worth down the road is essential information, and it’s David Robins’ area of expertise. As senior automotive analyst of vehicle valuations and residuals for Canadian Black Book (CBB) in Markham, Ont., it’s up to him to set and adjust residual values for trucks and utility vehicles.
“We have a data forecast model, and analyses of vehicles and economics for these values,” Robins, 39, said. “We also get press vehicles to test drive throughout the year, to be familiar with the new vehicles as they launch and how competitive they are within their segments, as well as the improvements that have been made.”
Robins graduated from Toronto’s York University with a specialized honours economics degree; he ran his own IT company for a while, and worked within the building industry. But he had always been passionate about cars. He has owned an Audi S4, Subaru WRX STI and a Chevrolet Corvette, all of which he worked on as a selftaught mechanic. His education and automotive knowledge caught the eye of a CBB recruiter. Robins joined the company seven years ago in a editor’s position and worked his way up.
Valuation is used not just by consumers and automakers, but by such industries as finance and insurance. CBB also supplies vehicle information to companies with portal to dealers, so that year, mode and trim details can be transferred into loan contracts or other paperwork.
“One of the biggest challenges is not being too swayed by what’s [currently] going on,” said Robins. “We’re forecasting up to 60 months and then maintaining that vehicle for its life cycle, and just because the market is hot today doesn’t mean it will be eight years from now. We use economic-forecast models and try to take a detached look at what the economy is doing today.”