Assistant to the President, Van Bortel Group
By Krista Bellardo | Photo by Brandon Vick
In what many would consider a male-dominated industry, Ruth Perrin has made a name for herself in the automotive business. Working alongside Kitty Van Bortel, the mogul behind the Van Bortel dealerships, Perrin has learned what it takes to be successful not only in business, but in the community in which one serves. And more often than not—she’s found that hard work and a genuine passion are utmost essentials.
The Van Bortel group has had enormous success at each of its dealerships, including the Used Car Center that was the start of it all. Van Bortel Subaru has become one of the top selling Subaru dealerships in the country, while the Ford dealership is one of the most successful in the multi-state area.
“We really care,” said Perrin. “It starts at the top with Kitty and then all of the managers, too. Everyone has bought in on the fact that the customer of the utmost importance.”
After graduating high school in Rome, N.Y., Perrin went on to study business administration, marketing and finance at the State University of New York at Oswego. She has a diversified background, working in the automotive industry for just a few years before spending 6 years in the communications field. It wasn’t until 18 years ago that she started working as a business and finance manager at Van Bortel. In 1998, just two years after she started working for Van Bortel, she was awarded Employee of the Month.
As the business expanded and the Ford dealership was started, Perrin took on her current role as assistant to the president, a position that allows her to do a multitude of things. She does customer care and service, marketing programs, event planning and assists President Kitty Van Bortel in other special projects.
“The best parts of my job are being able to help the customers and being able to help our employees,” said Perrin. “I’m a good liaison between the departments, the employees and the customers.”
At the Van Bortel dealerships, this customer relationship is what Perrin says Kitty has built her business around. Whether they’re buying a new car, getting their car serviced or just coming in for information on a particular model, Van Bortel dealerships focus all transactions on creating an experience where customers feel welcome and comfortable.
Like many successful women, Perrin works to find the perfect balance between her professional and personal roles. As a wife and mother, she still finds time to walk her golden retriever every day, read as often as possible and explore nature whenever she can.
“Balance is a very important word,” said Perrin. “You still have to have a home life. You still need to have fun and take care of yourself, eat healthy and get exercise in addition to your work and helping others.”
In the community, Perrin is a Friend of the Honeoye Falls-Mendon Rotary Club. She also participates in many Chamber of Commerce activities. For Perrin, getting to help the people of the local community who are in real need of a helping hand is the most rewarding part.
“My job in all of those things is that I’m just a worker,” said Perrin. “I love to help whenever I can.”
In 2006, Perrin was honored with the Paul Harris Award from her fellow Rotarians, an award that recognizes helping people in the community, being an outstanding citizen and looking out for others.
For women looking to follow in Perrin’s footsteps, she noted that one of the biggest things she has learned from working so closely with Kitty is that your reputation is one of your most important assets. Working to maintain and uphold that reputation every day is the key.
“Success is hard work and a measure of how much you have helped others, whether it’s your customers, your employees or the whole community,” said Perrin.