When Tony Cantie recently needed to email an invoice to a customer but couldn’t figure out the new computer system, it was Tim Schmitt, president of Schmitt’s Audi Volkswagen, who came to his rescue.
“He dropped what he was doing to give me a 20-minute tutorial,” said Cantie, who has worked nine years at the company. “That’s how it is here. The owners are really involved.”
Management’s accessibility and genuine interest in employees’ success, as well as their home lives, landed the Bowmansville dealership in the No. 1 spot for 2014 Top Workplaces among small companies.
“We’re very excited, very pleased,” Schmitt said. “We try to take care of our employees so they can take care of our customers. And that approach has treated our business and family very well.”
Schmitt’s Audi Volkswagen has been family owned and operated since 1921. The automotive retailer has been run by four generations of the Schmitt family. Its revenues were $40.5 million last year. Schmitt’s sells new and used vehicles and is a primarily an Audi and Volkwagen dealership. It received the 2010 Galanis award for “Best Family-Run Business in WNY” and the 2010 Magna Society Award from Audi of America.
The company employs 59 people, who described a management team that cares and values its workers and creates a family-like work environment conducive to their personal achievements.
“I am valued as an individual as well as part of a team here,” an employee wrote. “I feel that upper management has genuine concern for us as employees and the business going forward. When you work here, you feel like part of the family.”
Schmitt believes leading by example has lead to a successful business and content employees.
“We are very active in the business. We work with our employees,” he said. “When I’m walking by, it’s common for an employee to say ‘Hey Tim, can you grab that car and bring it around?’ It happens daily. It’s the norm.”
And when Schmitt and other executives aren’t on the sales floor or in the repair shop, “my door is open all the time. I tell them to bring their needs, successes and problems. Fundamentally, we have a lot of concern for our employees.”
Schmitt said engaging employees on all levels has fostered closer relationships.
“We are actively engaged and know our employees very well,” he said. “I know their families, their children. We recognize special days, marriages, birth of children.” The company show its appreciation for employees by offering very competitive compensation and benefits, including profit sharing, Schmitt said.
Cantie, the service adviser, had worked at two area dealerships. He initiated the Top Workplaces survey process because he thought Schmitt would be a strong contender.
“Of all the dealerships I’ve ever worked for, this one to me is something special,” he said. “It’s a family business, and they portray that family atmosphere. If one of the workers was sick, they’ll show concern. And they’ll do whatever.”
While Cantie was pressured to meet goals at previous jobs or suffer the consequences, he has found Schmitt’s to be a more supportive workplace, where management provides assistance in reaching targets.
“I still have goals, and I often meet and exceed them, but if I encounter a challenge, they’ll send me to training to reach that goal,” he said.