That’s how long Robin Andjulis has been with the Garber organization.
“This is my first job out of college,” Robin said. “I got an accounting degree from Central Michigan University, then started at Garber.”
Robin is the office manager at Garber-owned Sunrise Chevrolet in Illinois. She’s worked at this location for 21 years, though she’s held several roles at Garber over her decades-long tenure.
Not only has she grown, but she’s watched the company grow. But other things have stayed the same, like the values and people.
“Our core values are huge here,” she said. “Our Garber Values Card (Honesty, Respect, Empathy, Integrity, Pride, Work Ethic) have been huge in how I manage people. When difficult things come to the table, we always go back to our values. It never changes.”
She said many people who started their careers together years ago remain loyal Garber team members to this day.
“I’ve gotten to work with so many people and they’re still here,” she said. “That is very rewarding. We all enjoy each other’s success and knowing, ‘Hey, you were there and I was there’ all those years ago.’ It’s cool to see.”
The reason for the lower turnover isn’t rocket science.
“We have great retention because we like it here,” she said. “The foundation of having worked with so many of the same people is amazing. This is our second family. We feel valued here and we can contribute. It’s rewarding to come and do the work and get the job done. The flexibility is huge. It’s a win-win situation.”
At Garber, Robin keeps on winning.
Robin got her start at Garber thanks to word of mouth. Her mom passed along Robin’s resume to a CPA she knew through work.
Like a game of career telephone, that CPA then passed along Robin’s resume to Scott Ellsworth, the office manager at Garber Chevrolet Midland at the time.
“Scott hired me in an Accounts Payables position as part of administrative staff,” Robin said. “He quickly realized they didn’t need to train me. After six months, he said to me, ‘OK, you’ve made that position better, train your replacement, and move on.’”
Robin then helped with Payables Receivables: answering phones, typing car deals, eventually assisting with billing out car deals and then serving as a cashier for the service department.
A big life change for a colleague created a career opportunity for Robin.
“The office manager at the time was pregnant and they said, ‘Why don’t you work for her during her maternity leave on Bay Road in Saginaw?’” Robin explained. “I went out there that morning and she had the baby that afternoon. I had very little training.”
The trial-by-fire experience taught Robin she had a lot to learn. It also gave her a new goal.
“When I walked away from that experience, I was like, ‘OK I need to learn more before I get that position again’,” she said. “My ultimate goal was to become an office manager.”
Robin went to the Buick store in Saginaw and did New Car Billing. Then she found herself in a similar situation.
“The office manager decided she wanted to be a mom, and she knew she was leaving and wanted to make sure I would know how to basically do her job,” she said. “She spent a month teaching me. She used to tape herself on a cassette player and give it to me to listen to when I commuted.”
She said her experience reflected how Garber supports employee growth.
“I became the poster child of the mentality within the Garber group that if you tell us what your goal is and we see your abilities, we will help you,” she said. “In the areas you may be lacking, we will give you that experience. Growing from within is a priority here.”
In 1995, Robin achieved her goal of becoming an office manager at Garber Buick in Saginaw. She was 24 years old.
“I was still living with my parents, and I’m working with people who are all older than me,” she said. “I was very nervous, but I thought, ‘You know what, don’t worry about that; they are great people. They are going to help you be successful and you can take the knowledge and together we will create the best office there ever was.’”
She was right. With a supportive staff alongside her, Robin spent over two years in that role before another opportunity came calling.
“They created an assistant controller position, and I was the first person to be in that position,” Robin said. “I would travel and work with Pat Hengesbach [Garber’s CFO] to make the changes accounting-wise and the way we were processing things. I’d always say to the stores, ‘I’m here to simplify this. It’s not because you are doing something wrong…it’s to create consistency.’”
In that role, Robin trained the office managers. The professional experience changed her life personally, too.
“It was my 29th birthday, and I was at our dealership in Illinois,” she said. “I was bummed to spend my 29th birthday there, but I did. But that’s when I met my husband, who had worked for the Garber organization as well. A year and half later he became my husband and I moved to Illinois.”
Robin joined Sunrise as the office manager: a role she holds to this day.
Nowadays, Robin manages a staff of eight. She said watching others succeed is one of her favorite parts of the role.
“That’s been the most fun part: traveling and training with other people. I like seeing them become successful.
She said she’s taken the lessons that she’s learned and helps share them with others.
“I get joy out of helping others know the Garber way and see them be successful in their own environment,” she said. “The hands-on experience here at Garber has really helped teach me how to deal with conflict and support people.”
The growth is two-fold.
“I’ve grown so much by working for Garber,” she said. “I value everyone on my team. My success comes from their success. Every person that works for me, their success and seeing them grow and do something else…it’s a feather in my cap. It becomes a win-win situation. I value their goals and what’s going on in their lives.”
First concert? The Beastie Boys at the Saginaw Civic Center. I don’t think my mom knew I was going.
First car? Ford Fiesta. It was a stick. My father said, ‘You don’t just need to be 16 and drive a car, you need to drive a stick.’
Favorite meal? They’re all favorites. I like all kinds of food. The meal I don’t cook is my favorite.
Three words to describe your personality? Outgoing, friendly, warm
Bucket list item? A family trip to Hawaii