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Glen Rutherford is the current CEO of GWD Toyota, overseeing its four locations in Queenstown, Invercargill, Gore and Alexandra.
Glen has been with GWD since 1995, starting his career at Clarks of Southland Toyota as an apprentice technician, gaining the highest of Toyota’s technical qualifications as a Diagnostic Master Technician and being Lexus qualified and a hybrid specialist.
He says he joined as a “fresh-faced green-as” apprentice straight from the family farm in Te Ānau.
In 1998, Clarks of Southland Toyota merged with GWD Russell, now known as the GWD Motor Group, and Glen worked through his apprenticeship to become a qualified ‘A grade mechanic’, now called a technician. That same year he was named the apprentice of the year for Southland.
“I still look back at those early days and doing an apprenticeship under some hard-case buggers, with a lot of laughs and pranks”
Glen progressed in achieving his Toyota training over the years, completing Diagnostic Master Technician qualifications while working in Invercargill, also training to Hybrid Elite levels and gaining an automotive management MITO qualification.
In 2006 he won Toyota’s prestigious Technician of the Year award, and his first trip to Japan. In 2013 Glen applied for the Branch Manager role at a new Toyota dealership in Queenstown. At the time, based in Invercargill, he’d never thought of moving to Queenstown.
However, with some encouragement from his partner Charmaine, he says they did it and he’s never looked back! “The new dealership in Queenstown was a massive challenge, from recruiting the right staff to growing the business every day. The whole thing has been a huge learning curve.
“After four years in business, we found out very quickly that we’d underestimated Queenstown’s growth and we should have built a larger dealership”
In 2017 an opportunity arose due to the retirement of the long-standing CEO of the GWD Motor Group, Bob Crawford, and Glen took the opportunity to apply for the role, based out of Queenstown, overseeing the 136 staff scattered over its four locations.
Glen admits that it’s not always plain sailing and there are struggles along the way. He says, though, that, “it’s the way you step up and get past them that counts.”
His highlights include overseas trips as part of Toyota’s sales incentives offered to dealers, and building camaraderie with other dealer CEOs. In addition, he says that achieving goals and dreams has been a highlight of his career to date.
“It’s a hard role, and it has its challenges at times. The key to success is working with your team and applying the three Es, Encouragement, Empowerment and Enthusiasm… motivate your team and have a laugh along the way,” he says.
“It’s not only the dream job, but the dream location too.
“Queenstown and Southland are amazing places. My hobbies are fishing, hunting, boating, guitars, music, family, classic cars and heaps more. Queenstown has a great vibe that creates positive energy. You absorb that energy and push it into your team, while having fun doing it. Enthusiasm is contagious... living in Queenstown we have everything on our doorstep and it has been a fantastic place to bring up our daughter Sienna.
“The journey of 23 years with Toyota and going from a day one apprentice to the CEO has been a big one. I could never see myself working in another industry.”