Terry Negrijn, co-owner of Strathcona Toyota, has been interested in cars ever since he can remember.
Before getting a job as a car salesmen, he bought, restored and sold cars as a hobby. When the company he was working for full time started having trouble, he got a new job as a car salesman.
Rick Lamirande, Negrijn’s business partner, called him up around 20 years later asking if he wanted to buy in to Strathcona Toyota.
“I never thought of it as a career, but that is the direction it went, and it’s no regrets,” he said. “It’s been good to me, the business has been really good to me.”
Strathcona Toyota has been in business for around 36 years. In the beginning, Steve Marshall had shares in the dealership, but Irwin Portman bought him out. Negrijn and Lamirande bought the dealership from Portman in 2003.
“We like to put the customer at ease, whether it is in service or in sales,” Negrijn said. “It shouldn’t be a pressured environment is our philosophy.”
At the moment they are re-doing the showroom. Though they did a refresh of the building in 2003, there was pressure from the supplier to update the look of the showroom.
“It is very expensive to do and has taken a lot of thought,” Negrijn said.
Negrijn is the dealer principal. He and Lamirande share the responsibility of overseeing the entire dealership as well as interacting with the supplier. At the moment they have 22 employees.
“It is important to have good people working with you, not for you,” he said. “That’s what’s important to me.”
In the years that Negrijn has been working in car sales, he has seen the industry change drastically. With the introduction of the Vehicle Sales Authority the stereotypical ’seedy car salesman’ was weened out.
“I’ve let people go that have been less than truthful with a customer,” Negrijn said. “I won’t tolerate it.”
As well as taking good care of customers and staff, Strathcona Toyota is a big supporter of the Campbell River SPCA. They have a vehicle at the Saratoga Speedway with the Paws for a Cause logo on it.
Paws for a Cause is an annual walk to raise money for the SPCA.
Negrijn is a dog lover, and supporting the SPCA is one of the many ways that Strathcona Toyota gives back to the community.
“I don’t think the SPCA gets enough support,” he said.