Woodchester Auto Group President hires Ukrainian refugee with automotive background

October 5, 2022

When former Canadian International AutoShow President Sandy Liguori was approached about hiring a Ukrainian refugee to work at his dealership, he didn’t hesitate because it resonated with him as an immigrant.

Liguori, President of the Woodchester Auto Group in Mississauga and Consolidated Collision Services, was contacted by Katya Sundukova, a Russian native living in Canada about possibly hiring Alexey Dukach. He is a 35-year-old who along with his wife, Hanna, 35, and young daughters, Dasha, eight, and Polina, five, fled Ukraine. They lived in central Ukraine and moved from city to city in western Ukraine for 45 days shortly after the explosions began in February. They ultimately moved to Germany but didn’t have sufficient financial resources to stay.

Sundukova and her husband, Jason Campbell, who is the current CIAS General Manager, are helping Russian and Ukrainian refugees to find lodging and employment in Canada. Liguori was the CIAS President in 2013, and he was the first auto dealer Sundukova contacted because both of their families are close friends.

Dukach has 10 years of experience in the automotive industry in tech service, supply and management. He was seeking a starting job in auto sales at a dealership with the opportunity to grow within the company. He left behind a business in Ukraine in which he imported cars from the U.S. and Europe, made some small repairs on the cars, painted and detailed them and re-sold them. His experience also includes vehicle diagnostics.

He had the exact skills that Ligouri was looking for because of the overall difficulty dealers are having finding experienced help.

“I met with Alex and I was quite surprised because his English was very clear and he spoke intelligently and did have some automotive experience,” Liguori told Canadian auto dealer. “He had just about everything in a very unique and elementary way of doing whatever we do here as a dealer. We buy cars and we service them, and sell them.”

Liguori was moved by Dukach’s story of dealing with hardships in Ukraine because of the war with Russia and it resonated with his own life. He was 12 years old in 1965 when his parents left Italy with their three children and came to Canada looking for a better life financially. 

“We lived in southern Italy where the economy was very poor,” said Liguori. “We didn’t have the opportunities that were here. My Mom and Dad decided to give our family a better future. Everybody that came here succeeded and we came for that reason.

“It’s almost like it was my duty to help (Dukach),” said Liguori. “The thing that impressed me the most about him was exactly what we had when we came here—the enthusiasm of being in a new land where there were opportunities for the family to get better. That’s the thing that drew me to him—that he was looking for a better life for his family.”

Liguori introduced Dukach to his nephew Rob Ligouri, the General Manager of the collision shop, and talked to him into seeing if there was a job opening. The introduction went well and Dukach will begin working next week in the parts department once he and his family are fully settled. Liguori is also talking to people to see if they have any furniture they could donate to Dukach.

“Hopefully, he’ll succeed and become a good Canadian citizen,” Liguori said.

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