If you ask Robert Inglis if he can fix vehicles, he’ll give you a modest answer.
“I guess I’m mechanically minded,” he said.
But that’s an understatement. He is a master of his craft…and he has the credentials to prove it.
With 40 years of industry experience under his belt, Robert is a master service technician and shop foreman at Garber-owned Nissan of Bradenton in Bradenton, Florida.
“I deal with the customers, service writers, and technicians, and I try to assist with people’s concerns and resolve technical problems,” he explained.
He’s a leader and a mentor: one who has watched the industry shift and change. He also witnesses on a daily basis how Garber adapts right along with the times.
It’s all part of the gig, Robert said, and he’s happy to be a part of it.
Crossing the Border
When Robert was a teenager, his life looked a lot different than it does now.
For one, he lived in Canada. For another, he didn’t see himself in the automotive industry.
One thing did stay the same though: his ability to fix things.
“I’ve always really enjoyed repairing things,” he said. “Even in my teens, I would take stuff apart and fix small engines. I bought a motorcycle one time; it was in 100 pieces, and I was able to put it all together and I got it running. I have that ability to fix and put things back together.”
Thanks to a program in high school, Robert took his skills and found his calling,
“I didn’t see myself in the auto industry, but I was a part of a 4-year automotive program in high school,” he explained. “It had woodworking, machine shop, and sheet metal. I was fortunate to dabble in all the trades.”
He decided to focus on automotive because, well…that’s where the jobs were.
“When I was graduating, I was leaning towards being a machinist, but in 1979, there were no manufacturing jobs,” he said. “The economy wasn’t good. Because I was fixing my friends and neighbors’ cars, I changed direction and went the automotive route.”
Starting in 1980, Robert served his apprenticeship under a master tech for close to five years, which was a requirement to become a tech in Canada. He received his Canadian automotive technician license. He landed a job working for a Nissan franchise store.
In 1991, it was love – not a job – that brought him to the United States.
“I was in a relationship with a girl who had family in the States and we got married, and we ended up going to the States,” he explained. “I applied to immigrate and I was accepted in December of 1990 and we moved here in January of 1991. I continued my automotive career as a Nissan technician.”
He worked for another dealership location before deciding to work at a dealership closer to his home in Bradenton. He and his wife had two young daughters, so he wanted to be closer to his family.
It’s the same building Robert still works at today.
“I’ve worked at this same building for 24 years on June 29,” he said. “I worked 19 years and 11 months under the previous ownership.”
Then in May 2018, Garber acquired the location…and Robert’s career got another kickstart.
Embracing the Change
When Garber acquired the dealership where Robert worked, he wasn’t worried.
“Life is filled with change, and I embraced the change because it seemed like it was time for a change,” he said. “I thought new ownership would take the store to a new level, and it has.”
Robert said the changes were immediate once Garber came into the picture.
“I absolutely noticed a change when Garber took over,” Robert said. “Billy Buechel [General Manager] is very hands-on, and I just felt right away that it was going to be a good fit for me. Garber wants everybody to get along and work hard and exceed.”
Thanks to Garber, equal treatment and enthusiasm were injected into the company culture. It made all the difference.
“Garber boosted the team spirit, the morale,” Robert explained. “The whole philosophy of the dealership is so much nicer. It’s a real team atmosphere. I don’t feel the front of the store is favored, or certain departments are favored. The whole dealership is treated equally.”
With Garber came more support – especially from the IT department at Garber Management Group in Michigan.
“Garber is definitely helpful,” Robert said. “Any time we have a problem with diagnostic equipment or printers or shop equipment, the IT department is able to help me and keep things working properly.”
At the end of the day, what Robert appreciates the most is the camaraderie.
“The group of guys I work with are all interested in being here,” he said. “That’s so huge…to have positive people around you that want to be there and work. That’s a huge asset to what I do.”
The Next Generation
In his 40 years in the automotive industry, Robert has witnessed the evolution of automobiles.
“Things have changed dramatically,” he said. “The older cars…there were more nuts and bolts type of repairs. Today’s cars, you are reprogramming engine computers and configuring different modules as the technology changes and advances. You have lasers, sonars, cameras…they all have to be calibrated. The trade has changed dramatically in all car lines.”
So how does he keep up with the times?
“You stay involved with the online training and when the opportunity arises to go to the tech center, you go and get more training,” he said. “You do the best you can to not become a dinosaur.
He said fresh minds who are new to the industry can help, too.
“I would be very supportive of anyone coming into the automotive trade,” he said. “We need youth. We need people to come in and want to work with technology and mechanics.”
Fixers like Robert – those who have a skill or passion in this trade – have the opportunity to grow at Garber in multiple ways.
“If you are fortunate enough to start your automotive career with Garber, it is pretty well spelled out in front of you,” he said. “If you would like to take your career to the next level down the road, such as going into management or transferring to another store for a geographic change, it is available to you. Garber opens doors for you.”
First concert? I definitely saw ZZ Top back in the day when I still lived in Canada.
First car? ’68 Ford Mustang. I bought it when I was 14. It was maroon.
Favorite meal? I’m a big fan of slow roasted prime rib.
Three words to describe personality? Fair, honest, supportive. I try to be a good person; I have had the good fortune of raising two daughters. My wife and I put them through college and they live in this community. My oldest is married and I’m a grandfather. I am very family-oriented. I just do my thing. It definitely is working for me.
Bucket list item? I would like to do a lot more traveling within the United States and see more of North America