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App Helps Drivers with Disabilities Fuel Up

Man holding smart phone with colorful application icons

As gas prices continue to rise, most people take for granted the simple act of going to the gas station and quickly filling up. But for those in the disabled community, getting gas is more than just a quick trip. It requires plenty of planning. “Driving is freedom. You don’t realize the freedom until you don’t have it anymore,” said Jesse Graham of Bristow, Virginia.

A 12-year U.S. Air Force Veteran, Graham chose to join the military after Sept. 11, 2001. But when he was 30, a snowboarding accident left him a quadriplegic and in a wheelchair. Nevertheless, he was determined not to lose his sense of independence and free will – even with his disability. “Being able to travel on my own, do my own thing,” he said. But traveling takes fuel; for Graham, getting gas takes planning, coordination, and extra effort. “I mean, if you can’t get gas, you can’t get around,” he said. He often calls ahead to have someone help him pump the gas, but the help isn’t always available. “Either they won’t come out, or they can’t come out,” he said. That leaves him no other option but to go through the process of getting out of his car to pump the gas – sometimes with dangerous results. “I’ve had people run over the ramp in my van. I’ve had people almost hit me while I was rolling out of my van. I’ve had people block my ramp,” he said.

Gas stations are required to provide assistance at the pump, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, but only if more than one employee is working. “Right now, there’s no uniform way of, you know, getting that person to come out,” said Lee Page with Paralyzed Veterans of America. He said that in the years he’s been monitoring the issue of accessibility at the pump, it has not significantly improved. “Yeah, I think it’s a huge problem,” Page said. Some gas pumps have a call button to get an attendant to help, but the buttons are not required.

However, a new smartphone app called fuelService is gaining attention in the D.C. region as a possible solution at the pump. Kelley Simoneaux, who uses a wheelchair, says it’s been a game changer for her.

“I have three kids,” she said. “I’m always going somewhere, you know, having to run around kids, and so it would always be this whole process of, like, how I fit, when do I need gas? How am I going to fit it in?” The app pairs gas stations available to help pump gas for those users who need assistance. She demonstrated how it works. “Now that I’m here, I just ask for assistance. It asks me which pump I’m at so it can specifically identify who it is that they’re trying to help,” said Simoneaux. “It will let me know their ETA. Sometimes it’s two minutes, three, four. And I just know when to expect them to come out and pump my gas.”

Josh Basile of Potomac, Maryland, has been driving the fuelService app – which started in the U.K. – here in the U.S. “It’s just making the whole process easier for both the stations and drivers with disabilities. There are more than 1,000 gas stations up and down the east coast using the app. Over 400 in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia area. So much within the disability community is about awareness. So, letting the community know, letting the world know that this exists.”

More than 8 million people like Graham in this country are living with a mobility issue. “I know I’m a small percentage of the population, so I don’t expect the world to conform to me.” He’s heard of the app but hasn’t tried it yet. “I think anything that helps and makes things more accessible is always a good idea,” Graham said. He’d like to also see bigger lanes at gas stations for those in wheelchairs and easy-to-reach intercoms to communicate with those inside. And, for him, more patience from everyone.

Click here to read the full article.

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Women's Initiatives

Penske 2022 Women In The Driver’s Seat: Natasha Urdea

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Every Thursday for the next few months, we will feature a new female leader from around the globe, highlighting their career achievements, biggest influences, and the advice they would give to other young women considering a career in the automotive industry.


MEET THIS WEEK’S LEADER: NATASHA URDEA, SERVICE MANAGER, VOLKSWAGON SOUTH COAST

“IF YOU WANT SOMETHING IN LIFE YOU NEED TO WORK FOR IT. DON’T EXPECT SOMEONE TO HAND IT TO YOU.” 

First Automotive Job: Appointment Coordinator

PAG Tenure: 1 year

What attracted you to the automotive industry? I stumbled upon the industry. I was working for a temp agency, and I was assigned as a receptionist at a Volvo dealership.

Most satisfying part of your job: Being able to teach my employees.

Proudest professional achievement: My promotion to Service Manager.

Who was the biggest influence in your career? My mom has been my biggest influence. She was a stay-at-home mom for seventeen years and went back to school to get her masters and is now a CFO. My mom taught me that if I want anything in life I will have to work hard. No one is going to hand me anything for free.

Looking back on the last decade, how have you seen the automotive industry landscape change and evolve to engage more women? I see more women today compared to when I started in the industry. And more women are now accepted.

What hobbies do you enjoy? Skydiving, hiking, and going to the beach.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years? I hope to continue working for PAG.

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in the automotive industry? It is a wonderful and exciting industry. No one day is ever the same.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? If you want something in life you need to work for it. Don’t expect someone to hand it to you.

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Women's Initiatives

Penske 2022 Women In The Driver’s Seat: Alessia Masetti

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Every Thursday for the next few months, we will feature a new female leader from around the globe, highlighting their career achievements, biggest influences, and the advice they would give to other young women considering a career in the automotive industry.


MEET THIS WEEK’S LEADER: ALESSIA MASETTI, FLEET AND FINANCE AND INSURANCE MANAGER, MERCEDES-BENZ, BOLOGNA, ITALY

IF YOU WANT IT AND STUDY HARD, YOU CAN ACHIEVE EVERYTHING AND LEARN A NEW PROFESSION. YOU MUST NEVER GIVE UP, ALWAYS BE PASSIONATE, AND NEVER STOP BEING CURIUOS.”

First Automotive Job: Business Support

PAG Tenure: 4 years

What attracted you to the automotive industry? It happened by chance. I was interested in changing my career and trying new challenges. Once I entered the automotive industry, I realized that it involved much more than selling cars.

Most satisfying part of your job: To see satisfied customers and to gain their loyalty. I also have great satisfaction in seeing the collaborations between the sales consultants, watching them grow professionally and achieve objectives together by working as a team.

Proudest professional achievement: I am proud to see where I am today, working in my current role, especially considering that I studied at a scientific high school; I have a degree in biology and some previous experience in commercial and administrative fields.

Who was the biggest influence in your career? Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has supported me in my professional and personal growth. The company and dealer managers I have had over the years have helped me with growing my confidence and providing support.

Looking back on the last decade, how have you seen the automotive industry landscape change and evolve to engage more women? I think several prejudices have collapsed regarding the role of the women in the automotive industry. The precision, attention, and care that women deliver is now appreciated in this industry and respected by customers.

What hobbies do you enjoy? Sports are a big part of my life. I am passionate about CrossFit, which I do during the week and on weekends, along with relaxing and going out with friends for dinner.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years? I hope to still be with Mercedes-Benz and to be able to support in its growth. I also want to contribute to developing an F&I department.

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in the automotive industry? Times have changed. With the right dedication, professionalism, and commitment, you can get what you want from a career in the automotive industry.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? If you want it and study hard, you can achieve everything and learn a new profession. You must never give up, always be passionate, and never stop being curious.

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Women's Initiatives

Penske 2022 Women in the Driver’s Seat: Yvette Rivera

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Every Thursday for the next few months, we will feature a new female leader from around the globe, highlighting their career achievements, biggest influences, and the advice they would give to other young women considering a career in the automotive industry.


Meet This Week’s Leader: Yvette Rivera, East Region Payroll Controller

“Work hard, learn everything you can about the job/industry you want to pursue a career in. Never say ‘It’s not my job’. Do it, learn It. The more you know, the more valuable you become.

First Automotive Job: Data Entry Clerk in the Accounting Office

PAG Tenure: 42 years

What attracted you to the automotive industry? I started in a temporary, summer position after graduating high school which turned into a full-time position.

Most satisfying part of your job: At the end of the day, knowing that I have always given my best to complete all my responsibilities. Ensuring all employees are paid in a timely and accurate manner, being able to mentor my team and assisting management with finding new ways to perform our jobs more efficiently and implementing new processes.

Proudest professional achievement: Helping others to excel in their careers.

Who was the biggest influence in your career? The two most important have been my mom, who instilled a great work ethic in myself and my sisters, and Lee Bobowicz, my first manager and one of very few female managers at the time. She took me under her wing, trained me and provided me with opportunities to work in every area of the business.

Looking back on the last decade, how have you seen the automotive industry landscape change and evolve to engage more women? When I started working in the industry, it was a different world. Women mainly held the accounting (clerical) positions while men held other departments and management positions. Today, women hold many key management positions in the corporate offices and dealerships.

How do you spend your free time? I spend most of my free time with my grandchildren and I devote a lot of time to assisting my husband who is the senior pastor of a church.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years? I see myself dedicating more time to develop and mentor my team to prepare the next generation of leaders in our department.

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in the automotive industry? My advice would be to ‘Go for it!’  It’s a fast-paced, ever changing and, at times, challenging but extremely rewarding career.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? Work hard, learn everything you can about the job/industry you want to pursue a career in. Never say ‘it’s not my job’, do it, learn it.  The more you know, the more valuable you become.

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Women's Initiatives

Penske 2022 Women in the Driver’s Seat: Tena Jordan

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Every Thursday for the next few months, we will feature a new female leader from around the globe, highlighting their career achievements, biggest influences, and the advice they would give to other young women considering a career in the automotive industry.


Meet This Week’s Leader: Tena Jordan, Corporate Payroll Manager 

“Never Give Up, Just Because You May Have Been Told ‘No’, There Will Be Many More ‘Yes’ Responses That You Will Receive.”

First Automotive Job: Human Resources Assistant

What attracted you to the automotive industry? I wasn’t necessarily looking to enter the automotive industry but wanted to work within the field of Human Resources. I was offered an awesome opportunity with a Fortune 500 company that allowed me to begin my career in Human Resources in June of 1997.

Most satisfying part of your job: The most satisfying part of my job is supporting our customers who are the employees of Penske Automotive Group. I also, enjoy collaborating with PAG team members throughout the company and within the other Penske Divisions on human resources, benefit and payroll related projects.

Proudest professional achievement: One of my proudest professional achievements is completing the 2021 Shift Activate Leadership program. This opportunity allowed me to learn directly from top leaders within the PAG organization. Leaders that have earned the title of “Penske Automotive Group Dealerships Named Best to Work For.” In addition, to being granted the opportunity to make a difference within the payroll departments across Penske Automotive Group by communicating, mentoring new team members, and by sharing valuable knowledge with internal and external team members. With this approach, I’ve been able incorporate team related goals that increase accuracy and process efficiencies. In addition to sharing how to approach and overcome obstacles by producing positive results.

Who was the biggest influence in your career? My grandfather and my uncle Henry both have had the biggest influence on my life and throughout my career. My uncle Henry has always been my biggest mentor continuously coaching me along the way. My grandfather by always encouraging me to work hard no matter what type of job position that I’ve worked in. Both have instilled strong morals and values to always focus on doing the right thing, to do my best, to never lose sight of my goals or who I am and to never forget the lessons that I’ve learned throughout my life. And most importantly of all, to always remain humble and to care for others no matter what position I hold in life.

Looking back on the last decade, how have you seen the automotive industry landscape change and evolve to engage more women? I’ve seen more women being welcomed into management roles where their voice is not only being heard but being listened to. My assertion is that women will continue to embrace the automotive industry if advancement opportunities are made within reach, negative perceptions about the work environment are removed and there is a work/life balance.

What hobbies do you enjoy? I enjoy all motor sports, especially racing (which is my favorite), riding my motorcycle, gardening and bonding with family and friends.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years? I hope to still be working for PAG, continuously and passionately embracing the core values of what makes PAG one of the best companies to work for, not only today, but in the future.

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in the automotive industry? First and foremost, identify a goal path and create a date driven agenda to track your progress. Most importantly of all, continue to learn, be willing to adapt to change and be prepared for small setbacks as those will come along the way. Take additional steps to move forward, never losing sight of where you’re going. Understand that we are often our biggest competitor, therefore, keep competing and always strive to be the best at what you do. You are your greatest investment.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? Just because you may have been told no, never give up. There will be many more yes responses that you will receive along your journey.

Any other comments you would like to add? I would like to thank Mr. Penske for making Penske Automotive Group the company that it is today, I humbly thank him for all he has done for us at PAG. I would also like to thank the entire leadership team for mentoring me individually and from afar, believing in me and for granting me the opportunity to make a difference.

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General

Supporting our Service Members

Black woman soldier using laptop at home

We Are Committed to Supporting Our Service Members

Penske Automotive Group has committed to raising awareness and advocating for our veterans, whether through our partnerships or hiring practices.  We have always believed that veterans have what it takes to be outstanding team members.  They have a strong, goal-oriented work ethic, the ability to collaborate with a team and – in many cases – expertise with sophisticated equipment.

PAG is proud to employ team members that had previously served in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, Army Reserves, or National Guard. We look forward to continuing to provide our retired service members with opportunities to join and excel within our organization.

Spotlight: Fort Bliss Service Member Training Program

One of our initiatives towards supporting our veterans is the Fort Bliss Service Member Training Program.  This 12-week program is designed to transition service members to civilian life by learning the skills needed to become technicians at one of our Premier Truck Group locations. As a result, program graduates convert their skills from military application to commercial diesel technicians.  Service members that complete the program become system certified, which opens the door to a new career path, and allows them to establish the skills and confidence for long-term success within the trucking industry. The program is now approaching 50 graduates since 2021, many of which are currently employed with Premier Truck Group.

Click here to learn more about the Fort Bliss Service Member Program.

Stay tuned for stories about our future efforts, updates on our partnership with Paralyzed Veterans of America, and more information on how you can also help support our service members.

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Women's Initiatives

Penske 2022 Women in the Driver’s Seat: Sarah-Jane Beal

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Every Thursday for the next few months, we will feature a new female leader from around the globe, highlighting their career achievements, biggest influences, and the advice they would give to other young women considering a career in the automotive industry.


Meet This Week’s Leader: Sarah-Jane Beal, Head of Business, Sytner Group, Mercedes-Benz Division 

“Walk Before You Run.”

First Automotive Job: Product Specialist

PAG Tenure: 23 years

What attracted you to the automotive industry? From an early age, I realized that I had a passion for cars. As a teenager, I was drawn towards prestigious brands and high-performance models. It was a gift from my parents for my 18th birthday that truly inspired me to pursue my career in the industry. They arranged a driving experience in a Ferrari 512 Testarossa, and it was truly incredible. It was shortly after this experience that I secured my first role as a product specialist.

Most satisfying part of your job: One of the most satisfying parts of my role is developing the team. I am passionate about providing all colleagues with the opportunity to achieve their aspirations through a collaborative process of supporting their personal and professional growth. The breadth and depth of the role is vast and while it presents its challenges, I continue to get an enormous sense of satisfaction from exceeding targets, delivering results, and providing an outstanding customer experience every time.

Proudest professional achievement: I was recently recognized as ‘Head of Business of the Year’ in the 2-3 million categories at our 2022 Annual Management Conference. This was a remarkable achievement, and I am exceptionally proud of my team and the phenomenal results that we delivered in 2021. While still navigating through the uncertainty of the pandemic, we generated more profit than the accumulated period of 2015 to 2020 combined. Our team remained in a leading position for colleague engagement with a score of 9.0 and colleague retention remained very strong with turnover at 11%. It was an incredible year all round!

Who was the biggest influence in your career? The support that I have received from my Stepdad has been instrumental in shaping my attitude and drive to succeed. At every stage of my career, he has encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone, allowing me to push myself and make the most of every opportunity that was presented. As I have progressed into leadership roles, I have been extremely fortunate in the support that I have received from several incredible mentors within the business. Their continuous support has allowed me to flourish professionally, and they have been hugely influential on how I have progressed in my career.

Looking back on the last decade, how have you seen the automotive industry landscape change and evolve to engage more women? Attitudes and behaviors within the industry have changed significantly over the last decade and it truly feels as though we are making progress to create far more inclusive cultures and equal opportunities. As a business, we have a defined and focused strategy on driving inclusion in the workplace and this begins with education and awareness.

What hobbies do you enjoy? I enjoy swimming, walking, and socializing with friends over dinner.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years? Continuing to drive the performance of the business at Mercedes-Benz of Bath with an aspiration to progress into a larger dealership within the Mercedes-Benz Division. I have so much more to contribute and I’m looking forward to continuing my growth and development as Head of Business.

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in the automotive industry? The industry presents an exceptionally exciting career opportunity for all individuals who have the passion and drive to succeed in a competitive and fast paced environment. This has historically been biased; however, we must continue to challenge the misconceptions and encourage more women to choose the automotive industry as a career of choice.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? Although difficult to accept at the time, at an early stage in my career, I received advice from a well-respected manager who encouraged me to ‘walk before I could run’. While this is a a common saying, this still resonates with me today. It has been tremendously valuable in my career and is now prevalent in many aspects of how I operate as a senior leader in the business.

 

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Women's Initiatives

Penske 2022 Women in the Driver’s Seat: Margaret Taylor

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Every Thursday for the next few months, we will feature a new female leader from around the globe, highlighting their career achievements, biggest influences, and the advice they would give to other young women considering a career in the automotive industry.


Meet This Week’s Leader: Margaret Taylor, Parts Manager and Continuous Improvement Coordinator, Premier Truck of Oshawa

“Have patience, be willing to embrace change and always have a sense of humor.  Even the toughest of chaotic days can be relieved with a little sense of  humor.”

 

First Automotive Job: Service Department Clerk

PAG Tenure: 15 years

What attracted you to the automotive industry? The Heavy Truck Industry found me! I was in college, many years ago and indecisive about what career path I was going to take. I secured a job at my local Freightliner dealership when I noticed they were building a larger facility. I applied for a position and the rest is history.  When I tell this story, I often say that dealership life breeds in your blood and it becomes a part of who you are and what you want to accomplish in life. I consider myself extremely fortunate that my career found me and has allowed me to flourish and grow for many years.

Most satisfying part of your job: The fulfillment I get from seeing people around me succeed and problem solve. I also get great joy from being a part of a terrific team who are like family to me.

Proudest professional achievement: My proudest professional achievement is graduating from the NADA/ATD Academy in 2018. It was an honor to be chosen by Penske Truck Group to attend the academy.

Who was the biggest influence in your career? The people I have chosen to surround myself with. Whether it be senior managers or entry level personnel, I have taken every opportunity to gain experience from them all.

Looking back on the last decade, how have you seen the automotive industry landscape change and evolve to engage more women? Looking back over a decade, I have seen the industry mature and expand to include women at all levels within the industry. I remember the days of being the only female that attended association meetings. It’s great to see how the playing field has become more sophisticated and diverse.

What hobbies do you enjoy? I enjoy kayaking, many different forms of camping and being outdoors exploring nature and relaxing by a toasty warm campfire.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years? In the next five years, I see myself still leading an amazing team of young professionals and mentoring them to achieve career greatness within the PTG organization. I have a profound wish that, when I retire from PTG, I will have inspired other women entering the industry or currently employed within the industry to stand tall, evolve and eliminate any misconceptions about the heavy truck industry being a male only entity.

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in the automotive industry? Take advantage of every learning opportunity that the organization and manufacturers have available. The more you learn, the more capabilities you have when relating to your customers and make educated decisions that will empower you to continue in furthering your journey.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? To have patience, be willing to embrace change and always have a sense of humor. Even the toughest of the chaotic days can be relieved with a little sense of humor.

Any other comments you would like to add? I have spent a great deal of time with local school boards and school board guidance counselors, discussing the importance of careers at truck and automotive dealerships. I’ve also coordinated group tours of our facility for teachers to understand the career opportunities that are available to their high school students after graduation. Our facility supports a yearly initiative ‘Take Your Student to Work Day’ and I run a day program that invites high school students into our facility to learn about apprenticeships, sales and administration positions that are wonderful career opportunities.

 

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