Looking back on her rise from pinstriper to business manager at Mohawk Honda, Lindsay Samela realized that working in the auto business is what she wanted to do all along.
“I’ve never been the type of person to know what they wanted to do, but this just fit,” the 25-year-old Glenville resident said.
At age 16, Samela got a summer job applying pinstripes to cars at Mohawk Honda. The following year, she learned to do oil changes.
The work came easily to her, but she said there was a lot to learn.
“Pinstriping I was good at. It’s hard to do, but I was good at it,” the Scotia-Glenville High School graduate recalled. “And then the oil change thing … I couldn’t drive a standard and they got upset because they needed me to obviously do all of the cars that came in, and some of them were manual transmission cars, so the service manager said, ‘Go teach her right now.’ I learned in downtown Schenectady how to drive a standard so I could pull in the cars and put them on the lift.”
Going the extra mile to get a job done right is one of Samela’s specialties, according to Nick Bonarrigo, general manager of Mohawk Honda.
“She has just been unbelievable as an employee, a leader on the floor. She provides the most impeccable customer service, is very knowledgeable,” he said.
Samela graduated from the University at Albany with a degree in communications in May 2010, but still unsure of her career path, moved to California to live with her aunt.
“I worked at this really upscale gym that was part of the Marriott and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the culture. It wasn’t me,” she said.
In August 2010, she came back to the East Coast and returned to Mohawk Honda, this time as a sales associate.
“I picked up on that really quickly. I love it. I love meeting new people every day. It’s a really cool job and I’m selling a good product,” she said.
Samela was named to Honda’s Gold Level Council of Sales Leadership in 2012, joining just four others at the dealership with that title. To earn that status, she had to complete training, attain a certain sales volume level and achieve an exemplary level of customer service.
“She’s selling 26 to 27 cars a month, she has great customer service scores and she’s a great team player,” Bonarrigo said.
Two weeks ago, Samela was promoted to business manager at Mohawk Honda. In her new position, she helps customers secure financing and sells vehicle protection plans.
She attributes her progress, in part, to her fellow employees.
“I’ve always said that I don’t know if I would have been as successful as I think I’ve been here without the people,” she said. “I don’t know if I would have lasted as long. It’s my family. They really are. I enjoy coming to work.”
Samela said she is happy with where her career path has led and she’s already anticipating her next achievement.
“My eyes are set very far ahead,” she said. “I want to continue here but I always want to continue to advance and move up in my life.”