Auto Service World
News   December 14, 2021   by Adam Malik

Announcing the 2021 Shop of the Year

Josie Candito, owner of Master Mechanic High Park (middle), is flanked by business partners and shop technicians Mike Tavares (left) and Rui Silvestre (right).

After going through more than two dozen nominations and discovering all the great things Canadian shop owners are doing, CARS Magazine is proud to present the 2021 Shop of the Year award to Master Mechanic High Park in Toronto.

The shop is owned by Josie Candito who runs it with business partners Mike Tavares and Rui Silvestre. While the latter two are also technicians in the shop, Candito is an accountant by trade. While working in the head offices of Master Mechanic, she seized an opportunity to open her own shop within the franchise.

We’ll be preparing a full-length feature to run online, in addition to a feature in our print magazine. Stay tuned to our site in the coming weeks and keep an eye out for our December issue to learn more about Candito and the MMHP team.

The shop was picked based on its commitment to tech training, investment in the business and dedication to the community. The award is sponsored by Milwaukee Tool, which provided a prize pack valued at $2,500.

(from left) Matt Gibbons, Milwaukee senior national account manager – automotive/rental, Mike Tavares, Josie Candito, Rui Silvestre and Adam Hicks, Milwaukee transportation sales specialist, GTA. They’re joined by Charlie, chief dog officer (front)

About the winner

Candito, an accountant by background who worked at the head office of Master Mechanic, opened the doors to the west-end Toronto shop in 1999.

“I guess I had the entrepreneurial spirit in me; to be on my own,” Candito said. “When you’re talking to customers and you’re building something, I guess there was something in me that I just loved it. And when this location came up, I just loved the area.”

Candito ensures that her staff are always treated well, as equals and taken care of. “At our shop, everybody’s important. We’re all equal. Nobody’s better than anybody else. We all work hard, and there’s no feeling of ‘I’m superior to anybody,’” she said. “Obviously, there are leaders. But nobody’s just sitting in the back room. We have to lead by example. And not only in our community, but for our employees. We all have to be role models. So those are all things and I’m very particular about.”

Master Mechanic High Park, at the corner of Howard Park and Dundas Street West in Toronto.

Helping the community

Close to Candito’s heart is her surrounding community. It was her dedication to those in need and ensuring the success of those around her that separated her from the other nominees for this award.

“I come from a very humble family. My parents are immigrants and seeing how they struggled, I always wanted to make sure that I could help them and the community,” she said.

To highlight just a few, Candito works with The Redwood, a women’s shelter to help empower women to start over again. She also works with local non-profits like the Parkdale Food Bank and Stone Soup Network, which shares products and services with those in need.

When COVID-19 hit, she did what she could to encourage people to shop locally and support local businesses that were struggling due to pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns.

“It’s so important to remember to support local. We support each other as business leaders,” she said.

Rui Silvestre, Mike Tavares and Josie Candito of Master Mechanic High Park are presented with the Shop of the Year plaque by owners of CARS magazine Peter Bulmer and Delon Rashid

‘I’m different’

Candito recognizes that she may be quirky and not your typical shop owner. But that’s what makes her stand out in the aftermarket community. Her approach to the business, as she told her business partners Tavares and Silvestre, is what she feels is best.

“This is who I am and they know I’m different, and this is me,” Candito said. “They supported me 100 per cent. It was important to me. And if you want the community to invest in you, then you need to give back. You need to be there for them.”

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