Jason Arnold never had any doubt he’d be in the automotive industry one day.
His father worked for General Motors and his grandfather worked for General Motors.
Arnold grew up in Ontario, in the part of the province where the heart of Canada’s car industry beats the strongest. By age seven he was on the road with his father to trade shows, dealerships and conventions.
“I’ve been in the car business my whole life; I’ve been immersed in it,” the 38-year-old says with a smile. “It’s what I know.”
Today Arnold is an active Chilliwack Rotarian and is the general manager of the Mertin Auto Group in Chilliwack, which includes dealerships in not only General Motors products, but also Nissan and Hyundai. The company, which includes a leasing division and collision repair, employs about 200 people.
Arnold moved here in 2007 with his wife Katherine Browne and their two boys, Morgan and Evan, ending a string of promotions that meant six moves in nine years.
The stability is welcomed.
But more so is the opportunity to succeed in an industry he loves. For that, he doesn’t hide his gratitude for the confidence others have shown in him. “While I work hard, hard work is only as good as the opportunities people give you,” he says.
“I’ve been very fortunate that people have had faith in me.”
He credits an “outstanding management team” at Mertins for any success he might enjoy, and in particular the friendship and support from owner Harry Mertin and the entire Mertin family.
One management tenant imparted to Arnold from Harry Mertin is the importance of satisfied employees. It’s something he takes very seriously. It means concern for more than the 200 individuals employed by Mertins, but also the 200 families the company is a part of.
Satisfied employees are necessary if a business hopes to have satisfied customers, Arnold insists.
And satisfied customers allow Mertins to fulfil another key obligation. “If you have satisfied customers you should be able to give back to the community.”
Arnold graduated with a degree in commerce from McMaster University and at one point contemplated a career in accounting. Although he chose a different path, he still appreciates the elegance and exactitude of the field. “The financial mind you develop doing that work pays impressive dividends,” he says.
But all the education and training doesn’t matter if you don’t have a strong team behind you – a team that includes a supportive family.
“You sure can’t do it alone. You can’t do anything on your own, I don’t care who you are,” Arnold says.