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A Conversation With Doug Ross Barrie On Finding your Passion and How to “Conquer” It

Doug Ross was born in Woodstock, Ontario and moved to Toronto when he was 8 years old. A graduate from Silverthorne Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke, Doug attended the University of Toronto and graduated with a BA. Following his time at the University of Toronto, he attended Northwood Institute in Michigan for Automotive Marketing & Management. […]

Doug Ross
Doug Ross

Doug Ross was born in Woodstock, Ontario and moved to Toronto when he was 8 years old. A graduate from Silverthorne Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke, Doug attended the University of Toronto and graduated with a BA. Following his time at the University of Toronto, he attended Northwood Institute in Michigan for Automotive Marketing & Management.

Doug Ross began working part time at a General Motors dealership at the age of 14. During his time there, he did everything possible from cleaning & maintenance to Service Advisor, Sales and up to Sales Manager. At the age of 26, Doug became the General Manager of the dealership and at 30 became the youngest owner of a Nissan dealership. At his peak, he owned two General Motors dealerships, one of which he sold and the other which was closed during the company’s consolidation. During that time, Doug sat on the board of the Automotive School of Canada At Georgian College, won numerous dealer awards and was the President for three years of The Central Ontario Dealers Association. Since then, Doug has worked with Ford, Hyundai and Nissan again, always having tremendous success and experiencing very significant growth & profitability.

In his personal life, Doug has been happily married for over 30 years, with 2 beautiful daughters and is the proud Poppa of six grandchildren. He also loves dogs and have a large brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Doug Ross lives near Barrie, Ontario but prefers to spend as much time as possible at his cottage in Muskoka.

Why did you decide to create your own business?

Ever since I first entered the industry at the age of 14, it had been my ambition to become a dealership owner. I worked hard for it everyday and my hard work was rewarded as I became the youngest owner of a Nissan dealership.

 What does a typical day consist of for you?

Everyday, I arrive early to work at my dealership in Barrie to get a head start on my day before the dealership opens. During the day, I work to ensure that both my team and our customers are happy and excited while also helping to sort out problems that might arise within the dealership.

How has your company grown from its early days to now?

At my last dealership when I arrived there were 17 team members, low morale and the business was losing money quickly. At the end of 2018 we had 42 employees, exceptionally high employee satisfaction and were in the top 10 of 208 Nissan dealerships nationally for profitability. I am extremely proud not just of the turn around but also for all the team members for buying into the changes and embracing them.

 Who has been a role model to you and why?

I had two bosses early in my career that believed in me, encouraged my dreams, and pushed me to be the best I could be. I try to emulate what they did for me with how I interact with the people I work with and I hope that one day, I will be a role model for someone one my team as my bosses were for me.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

I maintain a solid work life balance by taking the approach that if I do not waste time while I am on the job at my Barrie dealership, I will be able to spend more time with my family. I believe that a solid and happy personal life are key to finding success at work and I stress the importance of a healthy work-life balance to my team.

What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?

My first suggestion for someone that wants to start in the industry is to ask questions. People are willing to help and offer valuable advice, but you need to take the first step and ask the questions to them. Secondly, I would recommend that you join a Performance Group which will offer invaluable information & advice.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?

The one piece of advice that I would give to others is that if you want something be prepared to work for it. When I a teenager and started working at GM, I took every opportunity to learn and grow in the dealership, even when it had me working every day of the week. The best things in life take effort to achieve and in work that is no different. If you really want something, you will be willing to work everyday towards that goal.

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

Outside of work my family defines me: my wife, my children, and my grandchildren. I try to be a thoughtful partner, husband, father and Poppa. I also love golf, boating and have made some fabulous friends over the years that I try to spend time with whenever possible. Living in Barrie, I can spend my summers in a fantastic location for all my favorite hobbies.

What trends in your industry excite you?

One trend in the industry that excites me is the rise of alternate fuels that are environmentally friendly. With the importance of becoming greener being stressed in every industry, I think the automotive industry will see a major change in the next decade and I am excited to see the changes that occur.

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