Canadian Business
Growing up in the automotive industry, it seemed only natural that Mike Trotman would someday be a part of the car world himself, but that wasn't always the case. Trotman, today the President of Trotman Automotive Group, at - University of British Columbia, Trotman was ready to pull away from the car industry. "I didn't enjoy the reputation and perception that went along with the car business," Trotman Said. Along brothers Mitch and Brad, Trotman was born into the automotive industry or, more commonly, his father's line of work. Trotman and his brothers were involved at several of the family stores, enjoying a number of low tier tasks like car washing and car detailing. It was a learning experience for Trotman and his siblings. Years later, the three brothers have built up a brand across British Columbia known as the Trotman Automotive Group. Steady Hand Takes the Wheel Trotman's change of heart about the car industry would come when, following graduation, he had planned to travel with friends and, in needing to raise funds, a return to the car business was required. There was an opportunity to sell cars at the flagship Langley Chrysler and, as Trotman humbly put it, the opportunity went well. "I excelled quickly as a young guy and led the 'infamous' leader board", Trotman explained. "I loved meeting people, meeting clients, and the whole process of 'the art of the car deal,' the negotiation." But still dissatisfied with the reputation that coexisted with the car business, Trotman also felt those around him were uninspiring, and again began questioning this career path. Another opportunity would present itself the following year when Trotman's father would step away from Langley Chrysler, leaving the business in his son's hands. Under the new direction, a combination of the right attitude and experience had customers inspired, and the business grew. "After I had about three or four years' exposure to the dealership and its business model, I determined it was something I wanted to really dig into, get involved with, and take over," Trotman said. "I thought I could bring a new competitive edge to the business, being an educated professional, and really focus on delivering an exceptional experience to our clients and to inspire through that experience to gain their trust, building our business around that." British Columbia Expansion In 2003, Trotman and his two brothers decide to further expand their family brand. The company added its second store, Comox Valley Dodge, and began rapidly implementing its recipe for success, instilling its best in practices to reenergize the business affairs of its newest acquisition. It was only natural that growth would follow such worthwhile change. "When you acquire a new store, you are taking on a different set of values and culture that exists within that store and its marketplace," Trotman explained. "In each of the three cases when we have grown with our stores, those have all been challenging situations, but the underlying theme, and why we have been successful in whatever the challenge is, is that we have a very solid and strong long-term vision and a set of values that we all believe in, that are shared and developed collaboratively by our team, guiding us through our business practices." As such, Trotman Automotive Group's first store, Langley Chrysler, formerly a mid-market, bedroom community dealer, has grown to become a nationally recognized dealer. In 2008, Trotman again expanded its reach, this time adding Alpine Toyota of Cranbrook, B.C., a marketplace which offered not only exposure into the Kootenay region, but also the increased portfolio of being involved with an import brand, Toyota. That emphasis on import was again recognized in 2009 when Trotman Automotive Group added its fourth store, Abbotsford Hyundai. "We've grown from a Chrysler store during about $22 million to $24 million in annual revenue, to today as a group of four stores, regionally diversified across the province and with brands, with sales in the $110 million range," Trotman acknowledged. It marks impressive growth over a short time, only adding to this in the future. Empowering employees While many in the automotive industry have struggled in recent years, Trotman Automotive Group, however, has seemingly bucketed that trend. Accordingly, the modest Trotman attributes the success of the company to his staff. "We have had a real strong focus on people, on finding the best people, on hiring them, on retaining them, on inspiring them, on encouraging them to dream big, and to perform at the top of their game," Trotman said. "It is about delivering an exceptional employment experience to our team who will then be inspired to deliver an exceptional purchasing experience for our clients. By focusing on that, we can overcome any challenge that comes our way." Trotman Automotive Group prides itself on building its reputation in the communities in which it does business. With a desire to become an industry leader, Trotman Automotive Group judges its success by its recognition and regard in these areas. Competing in a marketplace that is "like a commodity-based business," Trotman Automotive Group strives to offer its clients added value through its knowledgeable employees and industry experience. The company lives by its philosophy of creating an atmosphere when its employees feel valued, trusted, and respect. Trotman said, "When we can create that environment, that's where the magic happens and where things can really come together." According to Trotman, the company wants to grow organically to become a dominant player in its respective marketplaces. Trotman Automotive Group strives to become a market leader, both as a group and its individual stores. When the opportunity presents itself, as it has in the past, Trotman Automotive Group will pursue further expansion, in terms of both more stores and more brands. "We will continue to acquire stores in markets that we like brands that make sense, that we are proud to represent" Trotman said. "We will apply our formula of rapidly implementing our culture, our leadership, our values, and our people to be able to turn these stores into peak-performing dealerships. "We will continue to grow as long as we have great people that want to help in partnering that growth." CBJ