NewRoads Wins CAW Employer of Choice Award for Third TimeApr 1st, 2022
NewRoads Wins CAWEOC for the Third Time!
Lawrence Papoff, Newmarket, ON
Michael Croxon, CEO of NewRoads Automotive Group (NewRoads), ponders the year gone by. It was a year when problems came in waves. First COVID and then supply shortages.
“As the lockdowns eased, we took [what we learned] and did our collective best to keep things safe for our associates and enhance our customers experience along the way.” Croxon recalled. “We were met with the challenge of supply shortages which affected - and continue to effect - each store at different times.”
True to its name, NewRoads, was able to cope with COVID because it had embraced change before the pandemic.
Croxon explained: “When the pandemic first started, we were thankfully already positioned for this having launched an online buying platform in the previous year. COVID certainly provided a catalyst for us to utilize it more effectively than we had.”
COVID-wary customers could buy from their couch or use the online buying process to the extent they wanted – the choice was theirs. Since all NewRoads dealerships offer consumers the option to receive a price quote, have their vehicle appraised, apply for credit, and even fi nalize the deal without leaving their home, they found that many customers made use of the option. The system has also made NewRoads dealerships attractive to customers who are outside the Group’s geographic boundaries to buy from NewRoads. “
And so, we have managed to not only endure but thrive,” said Croxon. “Now with declining covid cases and the easing of restrictions on the horizon, our associates and management teams are feeling positive and optimistic about the future.”
NewRoads has a long history in auto retail. It has been owned and operated by the Croxon family since 1968 when it was founded by Michael Croxon’s father Noel. NewRoads has grown from a Chevrolet/Oldsmobile dealership in North York, Ontario to seven stores located in nearby Newmarket, Aurora and Richmond Hill, the “Northern 905.” Brands sold include Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, FCA, GMC, Mazda, Subaru and Toyota.
NewRoads began calling itself a group in 2006. It is a three-time winner of the CAWEOC having now been in the winners’ circle on each occasion NewRoads applied – in 2017 and 2020, and now 2022.
There are about 375 associates on staff.
Training à la NewRoads
When it comes to training, NewRoads trains with both onsite training visits and training sessions via Zoom.
Croxon said Zoom training rivals the onsite training. The modules – whether they are Zoom or in-person, are “highly interactive, highly informative and solicit ideas from all associates.”
Associates from all of stores, representing all brands train together.
“This design enables us to continue to build camaraderie and consistency amongst our teams, even though they may work under different rooftops,” he added.
The training does more than just train. Croxon said the training model has assisted in counteracting the feelings of loneliness and isolation that have been brought on by COVID. Associates look forward to participating and spending time together. “We want to make sure that everyone in our group feels included. We continue to host our quarterly Town Halls virtually – the content has as much to do with employee engagement as it does with any business updates,” he continued.
Now in its second year, the NewRoad’s Winter of Learning program is meant for all associates. These virtual classes teach associates a wide range of skills – from meditation to mixology to salsa dancing. They bring everyone together to socialize and learn.
Croxon said they continue to host contests across departments, to keep everyone included and engaged.
For the virtual Town Hall get-togethers, NewRoads supplies its associates with food and drink to enjoy at home while participating in the Town Halls.
This was done in an attempt to imitate as best as possible the sense community associates have when they break bread together in normal times. This past Christmas, NewRoads gave each associates a pair of holiday socks – seasonal trim with the NewRoads logo. Croxon said that helped create a feeling of family among the associates.
“And for every pair of socks that we purchased, a pair was donated to the local chapter of Inn From The Cold. One of the greatest needs for the homeless is clean socks and we were happy to provide them,” he added.
The EV challenge
All the brands in NewRoads will be transitioning to EVs.
“After COVID, moving on from ICE to EVs seems less challenging than what we have endured over the past few years,” Croxon said. He reported that they are making all the necessary investment in EV infrastructure to ensure they are ready. But management is also developing a training protocol for all frontline staff so they can guide our customers through the purchase and servicing of these vehicles.
At the time that Canadian AutoWorld went to press at the end of February, NewRoads hadn’t received the CAWEOC22 scores. There were no results to analyze.
But Croxon said: “Over the past two years, the pandemic has caused anxiety and depression amongst many people. Life is tough these days. Coming to work every day should not be one’s biggest stress. Making NewRoads an environment which is both inclusive and creating an environment where our associates legitimately want to come to work every day continues to be a focus in 2022 and beyond. We are a compassionate group that feels as responsible to ensure an associate’s mental health as much as their ability to earn a living.”