When he is not running Barberino Nissan in Wal-lingford, Conn., Managing Partner John Mocadlo visits local high schools and junior high schools to tell students that -- in so many words -- being in the car business is cool.
Or at least it isn't as bad as they probably think it is.
Mocadlo, 35, wants to assure young people that working at a dealership can be a rewarding career -- dollarwise and otherwise.
"I want to challenge that social stigma out there, that without college, you can't make it in life," Mocadlo says. "I tell kids, when you're 18 years old, and you have drive and discipline, give the auto industry a shot. You can make a lot of money and make something out of your life -- often even more than people who do have a college degree."
He has attracted a few young people to his dealership this way over the last few years. Sometimes, like a motivational speaker whose words take a long time to sink in, he hears back from students years later, after they have tried out other careers.
One of Mocadlo's more successful schoolhouse pitches won over his own cousin, a teenager in the classroom named Ryan Terrenzi.
Young Terrenzi knew cousin John worked for a car dealership. But Terrenzi already had made up his mind to go to college and study biology.
One biology degree and no job later, Terrenzi asked Mocadlo for a job at the dealership.
"A lot of young people look down on the idea of being a car salesman," says Terrenzi, now 28. "I guess I wouldn't even be here if I'd gotten a job in biology like I planned. But I'm glad I fell into it. It's different than I thought."
This year, Terrenzi is the top Nissan salesperson in Connecticut, according to Nissan North America. He chalks up his success to "being myself. Young people today spend a lot more time texting and emailing than some of the older car salespeople are comfortable doing."
Mocadlo says dealers need to continue selling young people on the idea of working in automotive.
"It's gotten a lot harder in the last few years to interest young people," the manager says. "The newer work force, those people 18 to 23, sometimes have a sense of entitlement that they shouldn't have to work hard and come in on Saturdays sometimes and make sacrifices to make gains in life.
"They don't think they'd like what we're doing here," he admits. "And yet we still need them."