Each One Teach One
“Every week he brought me an outside view into the running of our business. I told him I wanted to hear from him where he thought we were failing,” Hall says. “And every week he brought in different things to say maybe we are not giving the best customer service in this area. This gave me the opportunity to determine what we could do to make it better.”
The second week of Ragland’s internship he commented that the people in the shipping and receiving area did not seem to be gaining much recognition as they should. “We challenged Marquis to come up with a pay our program for the guys in the back and then to manage it while he is here,” Hall says.
While Sweebe admits many dealers employ young people in the summer, it often is not done in a systematic way. “They are given a job to do until they go back to school. What we did is dramatically different,” Sweebe says. “We were bringing someone in to give them the opportunity to learn the business so we put together a structured program. This sent a message to our own people that we are serious about trying to develop people, trying to give them an opportunity and trying to help young people advance their careers.”
Ragland says he was drawn to the Northwood program because, “as long as I can remember, I always have been surrounded by some kind of vehicle. I was always surrounded by a wrench or some other type of tool because my family was always working on cars.”
While Ragland knew he wanted a career in the automotive industry he says he did not necessarily want to be a technician. He searched for schools with automotive business degrees and found Northwood. “The aftermarket program basically focuses on parts, whether it be manufacturing parts, distributing parts, marketing parts, selling parts — so it gives me a wide range of opportunity.”
And the internship at the Diamond Companies has added another dimension to the mix. “I did not know what opportunities were out there for the trucking stuff, but I have had a blast so far,” Ragland says. He adds that he would recommend an internship at a truck dealership to other students.
“It has been great working with a bunch of people who have been in the field for 20, 30 or 40 years. These guys have taken me under their wing and I feel extremely welcome to be here. They are all willing to teach me and that is really all I can ask for,” he says.
He adds, “When I get back to school, they might have to try really hard to swing me back to the automotive side. I really enjoy it down here and I strongly recommend it.”
After he graduates in 2013, Ragland says, “I would love to keep going in the trucking industry. I am really hoping to get more exposure and see more opportunities and develop and all around knowledge of the industry so I feel like I can be in this industry.”
Ragland will finish out his internship at the Diamond Companies by working with the outside sales staff to get an understanding of what is involved in working with big accounts. He also has requested to spend a few days following Sweebe and the dealership’s chief operating officer to see what their jobs entail.
Sweebe also sent Ragland to work in his NAPA store in order to “give him a good variety of experiences.”