Veteran counterperson Lorne Johnston, General Auto Parts in Toronto, Ont., has been selected as the Jobber News Counterperson of the Year.
Johnston, who first stood behind the counter just as Saturday Night Fever was becoming a cultural phenomenon, was shocked to hear the news of his selection. “It’s not something that you really expect. You do your job every day and hope things go well.”
Johnston, who has been at General Auto Parts for just over two years, has many qualities that were considered in his selection.
One example offered by General Auto Parts owner Harold Baker was how Johnston has embraced the newer technologies at his disposal, despite the years he has spent behind the counter.
Johnston says that he is happy to have the new tools.
“We have lots of stuff. Now everything is computerized, but when I started there was none of that. It has actually made the job simpler in the long run. You can have all the information you need at the click of a button.”
But, he says, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to have expertise behind the counter.
“You still have to have basic automotive knowledge. When a customer calls asking for something you have to know when to say ‘Are you sure?’
“That’s especially true for the customer off the street. You have to know what’s going on.”
Johnston’s professionalism and experience alone would have put him in line to be considered for the honour, but is his performance under adversity set him apart from the more than 50 solid nominees.
Several years ago he was a counterperson for British Auto Supply in Toronto when the building was destroyed by a fire. Rather than throw his hands up in despair, Johnston used the company’s backup computer and worked from home with a few drivers to serve customers, and never lost the will to keep customers happy.
As a side note, while at British Auto Supply, he had the opportunity to meet Abe Schwartz, to whom the award is formally dedicated.
“He was only coming in part time when I was there. He seemed to be on the ball. He understood what the customer wanted and how to run the business.”
The Jobber News Counterperson of the Year Award has been presented since 2005 to recognize the best in the Canadian automotive aftermarket’s front line workers. It is sponsored by systems supplier Activant Solutions. www.activant.com.
A full profile of Lorne Johnston will appear in the December issue of Jobber News Magazine. Jobber News Magazine is Canada’s only publication dedicated to the distribution segment of the automotive aftermarket and has been published monthly since its founding in 1931. More information can be found at www.autoserviceworld.com.
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