Joseph Botham celebrates 60 years of dealership employment

Kevin Beattie, Dealer Principal of Beattie Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ltd.(left) and Joseph Botham, Sales & Leasing Consultant (center).

High turnover was a reality for the automotive retail industry pre-COVID, but for employees like Joseph Botham who has been employed at a dealership in Ontario for more than 60 years, he may as well be considered a lifer.

Botham, 79, is a sales and leasing consultant at Beattie Dodge Chrysler in Brockville. He has been working at the dealership since he was 15 years old, first part-time, and then eventually full-time. He just loves the car business: he loves his work, the people, and the industry.

“I love making deals, and the whole dealership is like a family — it always has been right from the founder, who I worked with,” said Botham in an interview with Canadian auto dealer. “The whole dealership has operated as a family.”

Botham was born and raised on a farm at a time when he was expected to help his father with the work one summer when his cousin, an auto mechanic, called his father and asked if Botham could join him at work to pump gas, wash cars, clean windows, sweep floors, and whatever else needed to be done. Back then Botham said they worked six days a week, including Saturdays, until five or six o’clock in the evening making 60 cents an hour.

“Can you believe that’s a penny a minute?” he told his father when he received his first paycheque. “I thought I wanted to be a mechanic. Like my two first cousins were. And I was going to take an apprenticeship and worked in the shop for a while when I started working full time. And then the parts manager got sick and (the dealership) only had one parts manager.”

He started helping out, an hour or more each day, before being offered the chance to work in the parts department for a few months, which then resulted in a job offer to become parts manager.

Botham was born during the Second World War, has lived through a series of incredible changes, particularly within the auto retail sector around the evolution of technology, and is now experiencing the current pandemic. His wife and daughter, both nurses, would prefer he retire, but he still loves the business and feels safe with the way the dealership is handling the crisis.

“I think the automotive business is a great business for anybody to get into, but number one, you have to really love automobiles, love people,” said Botham. “I can’t really explain it all, but to me, if I had to do it (all) over again, I probably would do exactly the same thing.”

He said he still enjoys the selling, and is not looking forward to the day he is no longer involved with the dealership. Botham also said he cannot imagine someone with a job they do not like because he loves getting out of bed and knowing he is going to work; he enjoys the challenge of trying to sell cars, and specifically, selling the right vehicle to the customer.

“What can I say? I’ve been blessed with good health, and I just enjoy (the job). Every day is just a day that I look forward to the next day,” said Botham.

Canadian auto dealer will be publishing a feature article about the importance of employee retention and training in the auto retail industry, and why it matters now more than ever. Stay-tuned for the article in our February 2021 issue.

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