Shant Bashian has been a Volkswagen guy, thru and thru, for nearly his entire adult life. And sure he’ll help you get the best deal possible on one, but perhaps more importantly, he’ll detail from his own experience what makes every VW special. He’ll point out the very little things that make the biggest difference when it comes to what’s referred to as the ‘fit and finish’ of a vehicle.
In this iDriveSoCal Podcast, we profile Ontario VW’s newest team member. Formerly of both Puente Hills and Pasadena Volkswagen; Shant shares his love or the VW brand and why he chose Ontario VW as his new home.
Recorded August 21, 2018 in Ontario, CA
Top SoCal Volkswagen Team Adds To Its Ranks
Shant: I’ve had three Touaregs, two Jettas, one Passat, two CCs. And, just recently in September, I surprised my wife by replacing our Touareg with a 2018 Atlas.
Volkswagen has always been softer rubber materials on the dash, the doors, the buttons of the windows, the way they feel, the material. It makes all the difference. These are the little things that VW looks at, but it brings out the quality.
When you drive a Volkswagen, and you drive a different brand vehicle, you definitely immediately feel the difference.
“I’ve had three Touaregs, two Jettas, one Passat, two CCs. And, just recently in September, I surprised my wife by replacing our Touareg with a 2018 Atlas.”
Tom: Welcome to iDriveSoCal the podcast, all about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States, southern California. Tom Smith here, out in the Los Angeles suburb of Ontario, California at our good friends, Ontario Volkswagen. And, joining me for this iDriveSoCal podcast is the newest team member of Ontario Volkswagen, Sales Manager Shant Bashian.
Shant: Yes, sir.
Tom: Welcome to Ontario Volkswagen, and thank you for joining me for the iDriveSoCal podcast.
Shant: Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure.
Tom: Ontario Volkswagen’s a fantastic partner of iDriveSoCal, and Shant is a fantastic VW guy, has been a long time here in southern California. Previously at a couple of other Volkswagen stores, Volkswagen Pasadena, as well as Volkswagen Puente Hills. So I know the team here is very excited to have you, and again, welcome.S
Volkswagen Team: 101
Shant: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
Tom: So why don’t… What we wanna do with this podcast is really let people know, this is a profile of you, right, dealer people. Car buying, quite honestly … You’ve been a buyer, right?
Tom: Before being in the business.
Shant: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I’ve walked into dealers.
Tom Smith: Yeah, and so you know having worn that hat, it can be a scary proposition, it can be anxiety-filled.
Ontario Volkswagen, as well as everybody that we work with at iDriveSoCal, we’re all about kind of pulling down those walls, pulling down those barriers and creating that level of comfort.
Let’s talk a little bit about your background in the automotive business. I know that your first entry into the automotive business was actually on the service side, which is pretty interesting.
When The VW Team Grew
Shant: You can say throughout the midway in my career because I went through 13 years in sales, then I tried service for several months. So I wanted to experience the service side, and I’m glad I did, I learned a lot back there.
Tom: You know, I think, this is my personal perception, but also as a consumer, I buy a car… And I work with dealers, so I’m a little bit different. But, I buy a car, and all consumers, they buy, and they do a lot of research. They work with a salesperson for a handful of hours, but then they work with the service advisor for years.
“I wanted to experience the service side, and I’m glad I did, I learned a lot back there.”
So let’s talk a little bit about what brought you, your steps before coming to Ontario Volkswagen. I know you wanna let all of your former customers from the other stores that you are now here.
Shant: I think it is important that they do know I’m here, because having a relationship with someone business-wise at a dealership, it’s helpful. It really is, because there’s a level of trust, and you get to know someone for a while, and you can count on them.
So if you need another vehicle, if your kids need a vehicle, if God forsakes you make have totaled the vehicle for whatever reason, the car buying experience can be overwhelming. But, when you know someone, they’ve treated you fairly, and you keep going back to that same person, that’s really who I am.
Why Team Ontario Volkswagen
That’s why I’ve stuck with Volkswagen, 16 years now. Four years at Pasadena Volkswagen, I’ve been at Puente Hills eight years, and that was a long commitment. But, I have a lot of good followers, I’ve made a lot of friends, I’m made friends, people I’ve gone mountain biking with that have bought cars from me, gone to many sushi dinners with that have bought cars from me.
“…when you know someone, they’ve treated you fairly, and you keep going back to that same person, that’s really who I am.”
And just, we’ll text each other out of the blue and say, “Hey, how are you? How are the kids? Did you go to church Sunday? Did you go off-road and camping?”
It becomes a relationship. So I do want people to know that I am in Ontario because you can lose touch with some people. People get new cell phones, email addresses, things happen in life.
So I’m at Ontario Volkswagen, I started here just earlier in August. I’m very happy to be here, it’s a great team, and we’re gonna do well over here.
“It becomes a relationship. So I do want people to know that I am in Ontario because you can lose touch with some people. People get new cell phones, email addresses, things happen in life.”
Tom: So you are not only a long-term Volkswagen professional but also a Volkswagen driver yourself?
Shant: I am. I’ve had, I’ll tell you exactly, my first car was a 2003 Volkswagen Passat. My father helped me co-sign for that vehicle. I drove the car for about a year, and then I leased myself a 2005 Volkswagen Touareg, which I had been eyeballing.
Volkswagen Team Drives What It Sells
And plus, I come from a backcountry world, and I love four-wheel driving and camping, and Volkswagen had told me that’s the best off-road car on the planet.
So I had to put that name to the test. So I’ve had three Touaregs, two Jettas, one Passat, two CCs. And, just recently in September, I surprised my wife by replacing our Touareg with a 2018 Atlas, to help transport our four-year-old and our six-year-old to school and back. Plus, it was time for her to get a new car anyway.
Shant: Yeah, I’ve had some VWs in my life.
I had the Jetta, 2005 Volkswagen Jetta, I sold that, 180,000 miles on the odometer, and the only thing I’ve ever done to that car was probably replaced brake pads, rotors, tires. I think the trunk latch went out one time, for 180,000 miles, I’m good. No problem.
And the Touareg I got rid of at 135,000 miles, the same engine as the Atlas has, 3.6. I love that vehicle. But, I needed that third row.
Tom: So did your passion for Volkswagen bring you to the brand professionally?
Shant: Not even close.
“My professional Volkswagen experience made me a Volkswagen driver, believer, and I stuck with the brand.”
Tom: Or, did your professional Volkswagen experience bring you to Volkswagen?
Shant: My professional Volkswagen experience made me a Volkswagen driver, believer, and I stuck with the brand.
You know, I did sell Honda for one year. Volkswagen, we sell, you can say anywhere from 60 to 100 new cars, depending on the location.
When you look at volume-wise, the entire world knows if you go to Japanese like Toyota and Honda, they sell 400, 500 cars plus.
Becoming A Volkswagen Believer
Shant: So I wanted to experience that, and I did. I worked for Penske Honda for one year in 2008.
But, selling Hondas was not as exciting for me as selling Volkswagens, because when I would demonstrate a Volkswagen product, I would point out all the little things, all the differences that make a Volkswagen a Volkswagen. And, I had to come back, I just had to come back.
Tom: I just did a podcast with Jimmy Willhide, who’s one of the Service Directors here at Ontario Volkswagen. I believe he has eight Volkswagens currently.
Tom: We were talking about Volkswagen, you and I were talking about this as well off-mic, just kind of the value overall, but specifically the fit and finish of a Volkswagen product. To me, they just pay attention to detail at a level that is significantly higher than the price would suggest.
Shant: I call that, not just me, but it’s quality over quantity. Volkswagen has always been softer rubber materials on the dash, the doors, the buttons of the windows, the way they feel, the material. It makes all the difference.
“…it’s quality over quantity. Volkswagen has always been softer rubber materials on the dash, the doors, the buttons of the windows, the way they feel, the material. It makes all the difference.”
Volkswagen Fit and Finish
The gap in between the doors, you have 3.5-millimeter gaps all the way across top to bottom, all the panels match. These are the little things that VW looks at, but it brings out the quality. So we don’t look at selling 18 million cars in one year, we look at how that car’s going to look, the design.
Now, when I say we, I really feel like I’m part of Volkswagen, but I’m definitely not the designer, of course, I just sell them. But, I just speak of we, because I feel like I belong to VW for some reason.
When you drive a Volkswagen, and you drive a different brand vehicle, if it’s a non-German brand, you definitely immediately feel the difference. Just driving on the freeway in Southern California, go on the 60 Freeway. This is a local podcast, right?
Shant: 60 Freeway, Interstate 10. How many semi-trucks in the morning? In the right lane alone, within a mile, you probably have 35 semi-trucks. Try driving past those semi-trucks at 70 miles an hour in a Volkswagen.
By the way, people, don’t speed, the limit is 65, versus a non-German product, you pass that semi-truck doing 65, you’ll feel your vehicle being kind of pushed to the side a little bit by that wind resistance.
“…the aerodynamics, the weight of the vehicle, the weight of the material, it all comes into play, and that’s what they design. It’s quality.”
And Volkswagen doesn’t have that, because the aerodynamics, the weight of the vehicle, the weight of the material, it all comes into play, and that’s what they design. It’s quality.
Volkswagen Team and Family
Tom: Shant, you already mentioned the family life to a certain degree, but when you’re not here at Ontario Volkswagen and helping current and future customers, what are you doing? Obviously, spending time with your family.
Shant: I’m swimming with my kids, I’m wrestling with my kids, letting them beat me up. I am cooking, I love cooking. My wife and I both cook, but when I have time off, I like to cook for her, and I prepare all kinds of meals for her, different flavors and spices.
Shant: And she loves it, or I believe she does. I do a lot of that, again, I’m a big-time outdoorsman. Hiking for me, take my kid’s hiking, let them get used to the outdoors life, especially nowadays with all the electronics. It feels like everyone’s on their phones and iPads and whatnot.
Tom: A lot.
Shant: We leave everything at home. I give them two hiking sticks, even the four-year-old when he was three, “Let’s go,” take them out, let them walk through the woods. “Let’s climb the tree.” People don’t climb trees anymore. So I still do that kind of stuff. Mountain biking, camping, four-wheel driving, a lot of outdoors stuff and activities.
Tom: Anything else you’d like to add before we kind of wrap this up?
Ontario Volkswagen – SoCal’s VW Destination
Shant: Come on out to Ontario Volkswagen. I gotta tell you, I love this auto mall.
Test drives around here, there’s really no traffic. It’s a very spacious auto mall. If you need to shop from one vehicle to another, you literally just drive just right next to the other store.
Shant: So it makes things a lot easier for people too, to come out here.
Tom: Excellent. You mentioned email address and phone numbers. Do you wanna drop your email address-
Shant I do.
Tom: …and phone number here?
Bashian’s Personal Contact Info
Tom: Well, Shant, thank you so much for joining me. Thank you and the Ontario Volkswagen team for being a great partner of iDriveSoCal, and I look forward to working with you a lot on various pieces, podcasts that we create to really educate and inform, and help people make the best buying decisions that they can.
Shant: Thanks, everyone for joining, and thanks for having me.
Tom: All right. Thanks. For iDriveSoCal, I’m Tom Smith, thank you for listening.