Carlo Herrera starts his day at work the same way: with a loud, whole-hearted “Woo!”
Herrera — New Car Sales Manager at Garber Highland in Highland, Indiana— likes to get the team pumped up.
“I always come into meetings and say, ‘Let’s go!’” Carlo laughed. “Every morning when I walk in, I do two slaps on the back and a ‘Wooo!’ To keep everyone going, I have to keep myself going. I come in and give as much energy as possible.”
Carlo’s enthusiasm is reflective of the encouragement he receives from his colleagues at Garber.
“I wouldn’t do the ‘Woo!’ in a different environment than Garber,” he said. “Being able to come in and get that, ‘Hey, good job, you are doing phenomenal, what are we doing next month?’ …that encouragement is everything and it makes me want to do as much as I can and get everyone fired up.”
At Garber, Carlo channels every part of his past – the pieces that make him who he is — to get the job done, whether it’s pumping people up or helping sell a vehicle. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
You might not think the automotive industry and the Marine Corps have a lot in common. Their purposes are completely different.
But Carlo has seen the similarities. He’s experienced both worlds. After graduating high school in 2006, Carlo enlisted in the Marine Corps. He served in Iraq for nine months, then served six and a half years in the Reserves until 2012.
When Carlo came home from Iraq in 2008, he worked as a sales manager for an appliance company. A friend made a suggestion that changed Carlo’s life.
“One day, a good friend of mine was like, ‘Hey, instead of selling washers and dryers, why don’t you sell cars?’ and I said, ‘Why not?’” Carlo said. “I got into the car business in 2012, and I never turned back.”
Carlo spent nearly 10 years working in various roles at different dealerships, including: sales person, finance/sales manager, finance director, and general sales manager.
Then the world was hit with the global pandemic…and Carlo experienced a deep loss.
“In September 2020, I lost my father to Covid,” he said.
Carlo felt the hole in his life as he tried to step forward.
“When that happened, I felt a void and I was in between life stages of what to do next,” he explained.
Amidst the heartache, a silver lining appeared.
“The same month I lost my dad to Covid, a good friend of mine — Jordy, our finance services manager here at Garber — told me about an opening at Garber,” Carlo said. “Jordy reached out and said, ‘We have an opening for a New Car Sales Manager; we’d love to sit down and talk with you.’ They knew I had been a general sales manager for two to three years and had experience.
After three interviews with Craig Blacklidge, General Manager at Garber Chevrolet Highland, Carlo got hired.
“Getting this job after losing my dad…it definitely filled a void and gave me something to look forward to,” he said.
The Garber culture felt familiar to Carlo. Immediately, Carlo noticed similarities between the Marine Corps world that he knew so well and Garber.
“One of the biggest things that makes Garber stand out is the value card that Craig gave me as soon as I started working here last year,” Herrera said. “It was something that I could fall in line with because I agree with our values, and a few of them are also pillars for the Marine Corps as well. When Craig showed me that value card with Honesty, Empathy, Respect, Work Ethic, Integrity and Pride, I was like, ‘Awesome, I finally get to work for a company that cares about others rather than a group that is just all about themselves. I’m 200% less stressed now that I work for Garber.’”
Carlo said he would recommend Garber as an employer. The environment and culture can especially resonate well with veterans, he said.
“The car business is a lot like the military because it is what we love to be a part of: the control of chaos,” Carlo explained. “There are customers and deals and excitement and a lot of things going on all at once, and for people that are part of the military, we love that. We need that. We hate being idle; we hate just being stuck behind a desk somewhere typing for the last eight hours. Joining Garber and being a part of the automotive industry keeps you busy and keeps you from getting lost within yourself. From what I’ve witnessed, the car business loves Marines, and Marines love the car business.”
Carlo especially appreciated the team work mentality that Garber echoed throughout the work environment.
“In the Marines, one of our biggest things is when we hit a hard time, we drop our head and push through,” he said. “Garber pushes through as a team. Everyone at this dealership embraced me, pulled me in and said, ‘Hey we are a team, we are a family.’ It made life a lot easier because they brought me in and said, ‘Hey, you are a part of our team.’ I was able to do what I do best and talk to customers. The finance managers included me, the sales managers included me, Craig included me. Even though my one-year anniversary with Garber is this October, I feel like I have worked at Garber my entire career because they welcomed me with open arms.”
At Garber, Carlo doesn’t have to hide any part of who he is. In fact, he is encouraged to highlight every part of his personality.
It took Carlo by surprise at first.
“I have tattoos all over my body: two full sleeves, side, chest, I’m working on a leg sleeve,” he explained. “The first day that I started with Craig, I was wearing a suit and tie, and Craig said, ‘Hey, we wear shorts and polos here.’ I said, ‘Sweet, but I probably won’t be able to do that.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah right, you’re going to show every single one of your tattoos. Wear your polo, wear your shorts, talk to your customers and do what you do best. I’m 110% supportive.’ In this day and age, tattoos are more acceptable, but you can still have companies or owners that are going to say, ‘That’s not what we want; you need to look professional.’ But Craig said to me, ‘Your tattoos…that’s you. That’s who you are. Show them.’”
Carlo’s tattoos aren’t the only thing that he is encouraged to embrace and show the world.
“I’m 100% Mexican Hispanic, and Craig is all about me promoting being able to speak Spanish, bring it into the dealership more, be a part of our Hispanic clientele,” Carlo said. “Garber allows me to be me and push on all of the aspects that make me who I am: military, Hispanic, tattoos. I have never had to hide who I am here.”
First job? My first-ever job was working for Krazy Kaplans, a firework store here in northwest Indiana. I started working for Greg Kaplan when I was a freshman in high school. I worked for him in the summer and it was the craziest, best/worst job you could have because you worked so many hours. That was my first introduction to sales: selling fireworks to people. I was getting paid $6/hour.
First car? My first car was a 2005 Chevy Malibu. I had just gotten home from a wrestling tournament. My dad goes to open the garage and says, “I’ve got a surprise for you.” He opened the garage and there was the car. I was ecstatic. He gave me the keys and said, “OK, it’s $150 a month and you’re paying me.” So I got a brand new car and a brand new car payment.
Three things you can’t live without? My daughter. Her name is Penelope and she’s 6 years old; she is my whole world. She saved my life. The second thing is my family — we are a very, very close family. Every Sunday, my cousins and aunts and uncles all get together. My third thing would be Bang energy drinks to start my day. Without my energy drink, I feel lost.
Something people would be surprised to know about you? I’m pretty much an open book. A lot of people wouldn’t think that I grew up in a rough neighborhood, but I love country music. People are like, “How are you a country boy?” But I love country music. I love my Silverado. I love my American flag.
Favorite food? I love food. I am a very big sweets guy, and if you ever want me to do anything for you, I can easily be bribed with cake or doughnuts.