Symons Retires from Symons’ Auto Sales

In Business, Local

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
As of August 1, Wayne Symon’s Auto Sales will be no more.

Only a handful of cars are left unsold as Symons winds down toward retirement on July 31 with a sense of new horizons ahead.

He doesn’t call it retiring – in a recent interview, he expressed a preference for the term retooling.

“I’ve sold the property,” Symons said.

“I’m still going to be able to do some wholesaling – I’ll be keeping my license – but I’m not just going to sit down and put my feet up and do nothing.”

His 66th birthday comes in December, and he finds himself in the enviable position of being in better health now than he was 20 years ago. This is largely due to his 2019 bariatric bypass surgery that took off 140 lb. With his wife Wendy mostly retired as well, the time seemed right to try something new.

“We bought a new trailer in Hastings, and we want to do a little bit of travelling, we want to do a little bit of fishing, we want to do a little bit of golfing, we want to do a little bit of sightseeing.”

Symons said his plans could be compared to a glass of water poured onto the sidewalk outside his dealership. It might go one way, it might go another.

He’s happy with that for now, though a couple of things are definite. October will find the Symonses in Nashville, with an Alaska cruise awaiting them next July.

“Other than that, we will go wherever life takes us.”

Symons has enjoyed the work so much that he wants to keep his license – “so I can still feel like, when friends and family phone up and need something, I can help. And I can still do estate sales for lawyers, which I’ve always done.”

And he’ll miss what he calls the people part.

“We have made a ton of friends. We have a great customer base. There’s a lot of people who have depended on us that we have looked after over the years,” he said.

“I feel like I am abandoning some of them, but they will find somebody else, I hope, that will look after them. But I will miss the people – the social part of the business, people walking in.”

The one thing he won’t miss is the paperwork. And this has been the case since he got into the business working for Ron Webb at Victoria Ford (now Fraser Ford) on June 5, 1980.

He moved on in 1996 to Peterborough Chrysler, owned by JJ Stewart of Norwood (who proved to be something of a mentor to him).

And when the time came in 2004, he bought Wyman Motors, which had been at 536 Division St. for some 36 years.

And over all those years, he reflects, he rarely saw the top of his desk under all that paper.

Which brings him to another topic dear to his heart – the threats facing the mom-and-pop dealerships from the administration requirements that have just gotten beyond the ability of a small business to handle without hiring additional staff.

“Only one person is going to pay for that at the end of the day, and that’s the consumer,” he said.

It was different back in the day for a young man born and raised in Baltimore, and he shared some of the history of the dealership that has stood so long at 536 Division St.

It was known by some as the old Sunoco gas station, but it opened as a Supertest gas station in 1957 and even had the area’s first drive-through brush car wash. It later became a Rambler dealership.

To the best of his knowledge, the purchaser of this property will not continue in automotive sales and service, but the location can’t be beat for almost any kind of business. According to studies done eight or nine years ago when Division Street was widened, 16,000 cars a day drive past him.

People have asked why his son Dale doesn’t take over, but Dale has plans of his own. He will carry on with the key business he set up on the premises, on a full-time and mobile basis.

When he began six or seven years ago, his dad confesses, “I asked, ‘how can you spend all that money on equipment and sell a few keys?’ Now he’s the only mobile key service around.”

Symons shares a few stories from his son’s work, like the time a hunter lost his keys in the forest and he had to drive fairly deep into the woods to reach the man’s vehicle. And when an ice fisherman on the Bay of Quinte dropped his keys into the water, Dale saved the day.

He also has a lot of dealer clients. And given that it’s a service that nobody else offers, Symons is confident of his son’s success.

Along with the dealership, the couple have sold their home with the thought of getting back to the country where they lived when they were younger. They made a wish list (a big garage for him, a bungalow for her, plenty of land for both), and found the perfect five-acre property near Colborne.

It means a lot to Symons that he will have that huge garage so that, when the mood hits, he can take a car in there and just tinker. And if he gets to missing people too much, there are always such options as volunteering or maybe even forming a musical combo with his brother.

Symons is delighted to contemplate the degree of freedom that will allow him to turn to his wife and say, “You know, we could probably be in PEI in 12 or 14 hours.”

“The only day that matters is the one you are in,” he said.

“Tomorrow doesn’t matter, and you can’t change yesterday.”

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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