Lifelong Onida resident Melinda (Heath) Garcia was active in the community growing up as a Girl Scout and through involvement in golf and cheerleading when she was in high school. She joined the workforce after graduation, and after following a path with a few turns and twists, she took a chance on a position with Lamb Motor.
“I saw they were hiring, and while it wasn’t something I ever saw myself doing, I gave it a shot,” said Melinda. “I enjoy meeting different people from all walks of life. I get to help people buy their first car, or their first new car. I like helping them pick what fits their lifestyle.”
Growing up, Melinda says in her 10th Court neighborhood, the kids played outdoors a lot. “In the summer, we went on lots of bike rides or were roller blading,” said Melinda. She says that she went to the pool a lot, and also played softball. “I also worked at The Corner growing up,” since at that time, her parents owned the business.
Although she didn’t pursue an advanced degree, Melinda says if she had, it would have been in the medical field, perhaps as an X-ray tech. She moved to Huron and worked 18 months at the Center for Independence, residential housing for adults with developmental disabilities.
When she returned home, she began working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre. Melinda says that no longer having to commute was another factor in her decision to apply to work at Lamb Motor.
As she has established her own home, Melinda has become a Do-It-Yourself practitioner. “I do all the fix-up work myself,” said Melinda. “I use skills I’ve acquired over time. I have strong attention for detail, and I get a lot of ideas on the internet or from Pinterest. I like to do those things.”
Along with her boyfriend Aaron Trabing, who is the Environmental Health and Safety Manager at the Ringneck Energy ethanol plant, Melinda recently acquired the historic Maud (Cole) and C.R. Garner home in the 200 block of 6th Street, sometimes referred to as the ‘castle.’ After building the home in about 1906, the Garners lived in it for over 50 years.
“We want to furnish the home with antiques,” said Melinda. “We plan to go antiquing this summer.”
Prior to making the historic home purchase at the end of last year, Melinda had purchased the home two doors east of the courthouse in the 700 block of Ash Avenue. “I purchased the old Tucker house with the intent to remodel it and live in it myself,” said Melinda. “Then Aaron and I purchased the Garner house. I decided to continue remodeling and rent the Tucker house. I have renters moving in July.”
Although she resides in a historic home, at work, Melinda looks to the future. “The auto industry is always changing,” said Melinda. “There are new vehicle models, and electric and hybrid vehicles.” Lamb Motor is working now to get the dealership signed up to sell electric vehicles, “mainly to offer the service because we live in such a rural area.”
Melinda’s typical day starts with sales meetings, inventory work, and updating the website with pictures, selling vehicles, ordering vehicles, and arranging for financing and doing title work.
“It surprises me how much we learn about people’s lives being their sales person,” said Melinda. “We get to see people through lots of phases of their life, such as getting a bigger vehicle with the arrival of a child or needing four-wheel drive because they’ve made a job change. We get to go through life changes with our customers.”
Melinda says she enjoys the financing aspect of her job, and that “moving the lot” after a snow event is her least favorite task.
“Sometimes we’re like confidants,” said Melinda. “We talk to all sorts of people from all walks of life.”
Melinda makes her home with her two sons, 8th grader Damian Garcia and 1st grader Adrian Garcia and her boyfriend Aaron Trabing who has a son Parker and daughter Brook who live in Wyoming. In their free time, the family enjoys “any outdoors activity. We are excited for the spring weather to get out and make our new yard our own and plant a garden. We enjoy traveling to Wyoming to visit family, yard work, and bowling.”