When Jim Tarrabain decided to forego mink ranching in 1974, he purchased a Gulf station in Lac La Biche. Today, on that same site, his three daughters, Tammy, Anni, and Soad, operate Tarrabain Motors- a Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealership, including an automotive service shop and parts centre, a Shell gas station and convenience store, and a carwash. For these women, it hasn’t always been easy in this male-dominated industry. Still, when we think about recent efforts to encourage more women to become involved in business, we need not look any further than Lac La Biche to find an outstanding example of women as successful entrepreneurs.
Success through respect and honesty
Tammy Tarrabain says that the family owes much of their success to the people who work for them, especially those who have been with the company for over 20 years. She says, “We make every effort to treat both employees and customers with respect, honesty and the way you would want to be treated,” something that their parents instilled in each of the siblings.
While technology has changed quite a few things related to the automotive industry, Tarrabain remains committed to providing a “human touch” to everything they do. Tammy points out that today’s new vehicle buyer often has everything selected online before even stepping into the showroom. “Clients do their homework. A walk-around and a test-drive are not as important as they were at one time”.
Like most businesses, Tarrabain Dodge Chrysler was affected by the pandemic. New protocols like vehicle sanitation procedures were put in place to ensure that staff and clients were safe while maintaining the best possible customer service. Tammy emphasizes that open communication with clients and staff was critical during this time and will continue to be in the future to meet new challenges.
Connecting with the community
Tarrabain Motors supports various endeavours that bring positive, measurable change to the community and their service area, such as in-kind and financial donations, employee volunteer days and involvement in non-profit partnerships – especially those that empower youth.
Over the past two years, Tarrabain Motors has been an active member of the Lac La Biche Region Chamber of Commerce. Tammy points out that the Chamber allows her to network with other businesses from the area and provides multiple opportunities to stay engaged with issues and opportunities important to a business. “Mutual business support, like shop local campaigns, are important to everyone’s success and the longevity of all businesses in Lac La Biche.”