The ‘Willie’ Way


Willie Gonzales, early in his career

Fridays at Beaver Toyota in Santa Fe always has a special energy.  Today was much more so because of a birthday for one staff and a new job for another.   Beaver has plenty of cake around to celebrate both milestones.   But someone is missing.  That someone has been with Beaver Toyota (and Sauter before ) for over twenty years.

Willie was so reliable that today when he didn’t show up for work or answer his phone, one of our managers went to check on him.

Willie Gonzales,  Beaver Toyota Santa Fe Parts Advisor, died today.  


Everyone Loves Willie

What comes to mind when a colleague dies?  For me, it was that I didn’t have a recent photo of him without his pony tail. Willie cut his hair right about the same time we were short a camera.    I never found out why.  I  liked the ponytail.  I told him he just needed a pierced ear to go with it.   He smiled.

Willie did whatever he could to help… the dealership, the customer, colleagues.   I can’t help but think ‘the Beaver Way’  was inspired by Willie.

He was always quiet around me.  That’s great except when trying to collect information about every staff person.  Getting Willie’s required a lot of prodding from everyone.   What I did get is posted on his dealer rater page.    I’m sure he never told his customers it was there, because he doesn’t have a review.


“No Photos Please” Willie Gonzales.

I don’t have many photos of Willie.  He hid when I came around with the camera.  He’d hold his hand up in front of his face or suddenly become very busy.

So I was very surprised when he showed up to take the Ice Bucket Challenge.



Willie accepts the Ice Bucket Challenge



There he was,  ready to let us pour a bucket of ice water on him to raise money for ALS.

Encouraged, I thought I might actually get some more information on him, perhaps even an  interview.   Not a chance!

Willie helps the techs

“He was GREAT at his job and often the hero of a technician.”

Most of Willie’s time was behind the scenes helping our technicians.

General Manager Buddy Espinosa says

“He was GREAT at his job and often the hero of a technician.”

When Willie wasn’t helping technicians, he was on the phone with customers..

As word spread that Willie died, an unusual calmness fell on Beaver Staff.  I don’t think he knew how much he was appreciated.

Here’s your chance to spread the word.  Add a favorite Willie story in the comments of this blog.

Customers,  please post something about Willie on his  dealer rater page.  Willie deserves at least one review. Willie’s profile on Dealer Rater is staying.

Willie’s not gone.  His spirit is still here, wowing us all.


Willie Gonzales (Left) with Alfred Hernandez , both of Beaver Toyota Santa Fe Parts


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