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Entrepreneurship - The Standard Motors Story
April 23, 2015
Employees. Service. Family. These three words encompass the values and motivation that drives the owners of Standard Motors, Jim, Ryan and Mark Plewis.
Standard Motors has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce since 1938. They are well-known in the community for their philanthropy, as a strong employer and an organization who continually supports and participates in community events and organizations.
Standard Motors is a family owned business that was established in 1910. Since opening, the business has been passed down through the family and multiple generations. The current owners, Jim Plewis and his two sons, Ryan and Mark Plewis, are looking into the future and they have a clear vision and strong values guiding them.
Although the auto industry has changed dramatically over the years, the people haven’t. The Plewis brothers sat down to chat about what the business means to them and their relationships with the organization’s fifty employees.
Ryan Plewis, owner of Standard Motors and a City Councillor for the City of Swift Current said, “There are a lot of things that go unseen. Culture is something that you can’t see, but you can definitely feel it. We expect staff will provide exceptional service if they can and that they get rewarded for that. Employees are the face of the organization and make this place successful. One of the keys to how we have been a success for 105 years is because of how we treat our staff. It’s a family mentality. Staff interactions are the ones that count…at least ninety percent of the time.
To be successful, you don’t just look out for yourself. You look out for your community. This is where we live and our families live and have always resided. We want to see it be the best place we can and try to do what we can to make it better.”
According to the Plewis brothers, one of the best business decisions that Standard Motors ever made was buying out Pratt. This decision changed the organization’s business model, making them significantly more competitive. This competitiveness ensured that people do not need to leave Swift Current in order to get the vehicle they are looking for.
Standard Motors recognizes that a customer’s worth extends past a sale. They build customers for life. Ryan Plewis said, “It is a great feeling to see an eighty-five year old waiting for service and their grandson is waiting to buy a truck. When our customers are our greatest cheerleaders in the community, it’s pretty special.”
Staff is the organization’s greatest asset. They always have been throughout the history of the dealership. “The most important thing in your building is your staff.” said Mark Plewis. Having little to no turnover and impressively long retention rates is a huge benefit for the organization. “A lot of employees with over twenty-five years of experience are retiring now.” Said Ryan Plewis, “We don’t hire for right now. We hire for the long term. Hire the right person and train them. It costs more money in the short term to do that, but it is definitely worth it in the end!”
Standard Motors has a strong history with the Swift Current Broncos and other sports organizations in the community, so it would be only fitting to compare the attraction and retention of employees to a sports analogy. “We build through the draft…not through free agency.” said Ryan Plewis, “We have made an effort to put high-school co-op students through the program and provide all the training they need. Therefore, we don’t need to go pull someone from Calgary.
Your reputation is everything. When you have a reputation as being a good employer, being a really great place to work, it’s not hard to find good people. They come to you. We’ve been very fortunate. When that happens, hiring gets a lot easier.”
One of the core and fundamental concepts that drives and directs Standard Motors is family. Specifically, the Plewis brothers use the experiences and wisdom of their dad and grandpa, “We weren’t fortunate enough to know our great-grandpa at all, but the philosophy we’ve done business under started with Barney. Influence has certainly been present through our dad and grandpa’s time at Standard Motors. There are also many people who have spent their whole lives working here and are considered family whom we’ve learned from.”
Mark Plewis has fond memories of his experience as a child spending time in the organization, “As a kid, I spent many hours running around in the show room with the doors locked. It’s more of a lifestyle than an occupation for us. Our family has been doing this for four generations. It’s hard to imagine doing anything different than what our father and grandfather did.”
The brothers have had a lot of fun in the past year. They have worked together to support their win-win philosophy on every angle of the business. Through this process, they saw the morphing of attitudes and payoffs that ensued. Not only was there a buy-in by staff, now they’re flying – they don’t require active management. The sale is just the start of the relationship with a customer.