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Monday Morning ‘MUG’ing: A lifetime in the automotive business

This week’s Monday Morning ‘MUG’ing takes a look at Wayne Toyota, a family-owned and operated car dealership.

THUNDER BAY -- Michael Marostica got an early start in the car business. His father, Wayne Marostica, started Wayne Toyota in 1978, and Michael washed cars and mowed the lawns throughout his teens.

“When I went to Lakehead University, I tried to see what else was out in the business world, but by the time I got through year two, I decided I wanted to stay in the car industry. The opportunity was just too hard to give up,” Michael remembers.

He worked in various departments to learn all aspects of the dealership and when his father retired in 2008, Michael took on the role of dealer principal.

Wayne Marostica has always been on 787 Central Avenue and it went through renovations in the 80s and in 2012 as the dealership expanded. From 10 or 12 employees in 1978, they have grown to 48 employees. “We’ve grown quite a lot in the past 12 years,” Michael says. 

The COVID-19 pandemic caught Michael by surprise. “It took the business world and flipped it upside down. A lot of things we had to figure out,” he says. Their service department was deemed essential and kept operating, but the sales department had to limit themselves to online sales. “We shrank to half [the number of employees] and we’re now back to about 90 per cent,” he says.

Wayne Toyota services a large geographical area, from Fort Frances in the west to Marathon in the east, as well as communities in the north. When Michael took over the business, the best-selling vehicles were Corolla and RAV4, but since then, the demand for sedans has gone down, while SUVs remain bestsellers. The past 10 years have also seen a huge increase in pickup trucks, and Tacomas and Tundras are popular in northwest Ontario.

Michael says his passion for superior customer service and his team of employees have contributed to the success of the dealership. Many of the employees have been there since his father’s time. “A couple of technicians have been here for 30 years, and my office manager for 25,” Michael says. “We had a technician retire recently, and he was here from day one.”

“Employee longevity is a good thing,” he says. “This is a great place to be a part of.”

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