At the service of the group for more than 20 years, he represents the 4th generation of the family to take the reins of the automobile sales giant: Mathieu Spinelli has been appointed Executive Vice-President within the family business. Chaired by Mathieu’s father, Pierre, The Spinelli group operates nine Asian car dealerships in Montreal and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2022.
After having accumulated more than 20 years of experience in the service of the company, what is the professional path that led you to obtain the position of Executive Vice-President?
I started as a technical advisor for three years. I established contact with customers in the service department. During my studies in administration and international relations, I did a bit of everything as a washer and I also moved the cars in the yards. Subsequently, I was service manager for our dealership at Mazda for a few years. I have also been in sales with clients. Finally, before my recent appointment, I was Vice President of Customer Experience for seven years.
How did you react to your appointment as the chief operating officer of the company?
At first, I thought it was a great sign of confidence on the part of the president. Yes, Pierre is indeed my father, but I dare to hope that if the job fell to me it was because I deserved it in a certain way. I don’t believe the position was given to me de facto. I am certainly very honored and there is a lot of work on the horizon.
Now that you are in a more meaningful way, do you see a different vision for the business?
First and foremost, I want to ensure the continuity of values and our culture in the company. That is to say, the employee must remain at the heart of our considerations. It is truly a family business with family values and I hope that our employees are well looked after. Then, in my opinion, we already offer an excellent customer experience, but I want it to be taken to another level.
The auto sales industry saw a decline of about 20% in 2020 due to the pandemic. How did this period go for you?
It was particularly difficult in terms of all the temporary layoffs and especially the less temporary ones. Then, like everyone else, we had to learn to live with the new measures, especially with customers and in the workshops. But after the drop, there were significant impacts at the inventory level. The manufacturers were closed for a while, so when they opened, we even ran out of new and used vehicles. So the pandemic has taught us to become more adept at all of these points and to adapt to the changes caused by this new reality.
Manufacturers are facing a shortage of electronic microchips right now. How do you see the future of the automotive market with these supply problems?
Indeed, we are seeing these problems now in the market. We experienced a similar situation in 2004 during the tsunami that hit Asia. For now, the company is not affected by supply issues on the microchip side. However, for us what has changed the most through this crisis is the aspect of online customer service. The automotive industry has always been resistant to change. Even if this is a turn that we had already started to undertake, the pandemic has really accelerated our adaptation to this level.
Outside of the automotive world, what are you on your mind?
Of course, I love working and I love the business, but I spend the rest of my time with my family. I have a wife and two wonderful little daughters aged six and eight so they take up a lot of our time. We try to do as many family activities as possible.