With intense competition in the marketplace, many organizations seek out new ways of doing business. Inevitably these new ways bring about change, and this change’s effects can range from skyrocketing an organization to new heights through to being an organization’s demise. The automotive industry is one of the most fiercely competitive industries in North America. The challenge of Central Atlantic Toyota Distributors, Inc. (CATD) was not Iimited to the competition in the industry.It was also going through the process of an ownership change. Dennis Clements, president of CATD, called on The Pacific Institute for assistance with the looming challenges. Clements’ goal was to usher CATD through the change and, at the same time, gain market share and establish CATD as a dominant distributor in the United States. This partnership with The Pacific Institute propelled CATD to new heights. CATD established new records in car, truck and parts sales, dealer development, and associate development over three consecutive years.
CATD distributes Toyota cars, trucks, parts, and service to over 130 dealers in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., and is one of 12 Toyota distributors in the U.S. This privately owned distributor experienced a change in ownership. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. purchased the company and decided to maintain it as a separate subsidiary private distributor to experiment with a different business strategy. New ownership brought new management, and with new management, change. Gladys Spencer, manager of training and development, recalls, “During the initial stages of the change over, we lost our identity, we wondered who we were. The Pacific Institute helped us get a sense of identity.” Change, coupled with the competitive climate in the industry, presented a formidable challenge. Nevertheless, CATD was up to the challenge.
Clements had participated in The Pacific Institute curriculum in the past, and was instrumental in making the program available for all employees. CATD took a top-down approach to implementation. First the leadership participated in Investment in Excellence® followed by senior management. The program was rolled out for all employees and spouses after in-house facilitators were trained.
In the Strategic Vision Building (SVB) phase, many goals were set. Becoming the number one Toyota distributor in the country was a two-year goal set by the SVB team. After the first year of assimilating The Pacific Institute’s curriculum, that goal was achieved. According to the National Automotive Dealers Association, CATD ranked number one in nine out of 11 categories compared to the 11 other Toyota regions. Additionally, CATD produced a significant increase in vehicle sales. At the time, Spencer noted, “As a result of our outstanding sales performance in 1994, CATD became the fastest-growing region in the U.S. and we continue to sell vehicles at a record pace. Our self-talk is positive; we believe we can do anything.”