Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 28, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Cowell Motors Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2016):
- In addition to helping employees save for the future, Cowell Motors offers great financial benefits, including signing and year-end bonuses for some employees and referral bonuses for employees who help recruit contacts in their networks (up to $1,000 for successful hires)
- Cowell Motors invests in ongoing employee development with generous tuition subsidies for job-related courses (to $4,000) and reaches out to the next generation of job-seekers through paid internships, summer student roles and co-op opportunities
- Employees working at Cowell Motors enjoy an active social calendar throughout the year, including an annual recognition event, a children's Christmas party and seasonal barbecues
Happier and healthier at Cowell Auto Group
As a teenager in the early 1970s, Kathy De Koster would sometimes accompany her father when he brought the family's beloved Volkswagen Beetle in for servicing at Cowell Volkswagen in Richmond, B.C. She took an immediate liking to the people who worked for the family-owned business and the friendly, customer-focused service they provided.
Over the past 25 years, De Koster has worked as a service advisor at Cowell Volkswagen, where she takes pride in providing the same kind of honest and open service to her own clients.
"I've got a good crew of long-term customers who already know and trust me," she says. "But every day, I have the potential of dealing with someone new and my goal is to make sure our relationship grows and stays strong over many years, and many cars, to come."
Gary Cowell founded Cowell Volkswagen in 1967. Since then, Richmond has grown from a small farming community into a bustling city while the family enterprise has evolved into the Cowell Auto Group, which now involves real estate as well as three thriving dealerships - Audi of Richmond, Cowell Volkswagen and Jaguar Land Rover Richmond. Gary's sons, Rand and Ryan, now manage the businesses, leading the retail automotive and property development operations respectively.
While much has changed over the years, De Koster says some things have remained constant.
"It all comes back to the Cowells," she says. "Gary, Rand and Ryan are all really good people. They are honest, up-front, and they have your back. Whether you are a lot staff member or the General Manager, you are treated equally. The Cowells have created something that's really exciting and you just want to be a part of."
When it comes to how they deal with their employees, Rand and Ryan say they are simply following their father's example.
"Like a lot of other companies, this business went through some tough times in the 1980s," says Ryan. "Our Dad wanted to make sure he took care of the people around him and kept them employed. He knew that surrounding yourself with great people who are happy and working towards a common purpose is the key to having a successful business."
When the company went through a major growth period, starting in the 1990s, the Cowells were determined to keep that tight-knit work culture intact.
"One of the things we've done is to truly recognize our core purpose," says Rand. "For a lot of companies, it's just about making money. We see our purpose as creating a meaningful difference - and we try to live that, starting with our employees. We have to create a meaningful difference for them so they can in turn do that for our customers."
So in addition to a wide range of training and career development programs, Cowell Auto Group offers employees some unique opportunities for personal growth. One current initiative is a "vertical mindset" program which sees a lifestyle coach work directly with groups of employees over two-day training sessions aimed at helping them achieve excellence in every aspect of their lives.
"It involves a lot of inward reflection about how to be a better person," says Ryan. "It's about looking at the bigger picture of how they can adjust their mindset to be happier and healthier in both their personal and work lives."
Rand concurs. "It really comes down to trying to add value to people's lives, and not just help them sell more cars or parts."
The company also makes a point of acknowledging high-performing employees. Each year, a select few people receive the President's Award, recognizing individual achievement (De Koster is a past recipient).
"One thing I'm most proud of is that we currently have 35 people who are past President's Award winners and still working for Cowell Auto," says Rand. "That tells me people feel like family and that they can advance and grow their careers here. They stay and do great things and that's what keeps our business successful."