A Brotherhood at Wilsonville

by Dan Nied
May/June 2016
A Brotherhood at Wilsonville
An Unbreakable Bond
As lead technician at Wilsonville Toyota’s Service Department, Darren Clark (top left) leads a team that includes fellow veterans Ben Strausser (bottom left) and Jeff Pendleton. “It’s a brotherhood,” says Clark.
As Darren Clark talks on the phone, his young daughter joins along in the background.

“She’s learning,” Clark says. “We’re having daddy/daughter day at home.”

Life is good for Clark. He’s a lead technician in the service department at Wilsonville Toyota in Oregon, and, when he gets a day off, daddy/daughter day is always a big success.

And every day is a blessing. Clark is a veteran who served five tours of duty, including the Iraq War as part of the U.S. Naval Construction Forces, or a Navy Seabee, as they’re known.

“We were stationed on the Kuwait border,” Clark says. “When the Marines went forward in Iraq, we would go into Iraq, get them out and fix the vehicles. It was scary at times. We were in a small convoy, and most of the times the vehicles were in the middle of nowhere.”

When Clark finished his military service, he decided to go to school to become a mechanic. As a T-TEN graduate at Umpqua Community College, he started at Wilsonville Toyota in 2007.

As a team lead, Clark manages five other technicians, two who also happen to be veterans: retired Air Force Munitions Expert Jeff Pendleton and Marine Harrier Mechanic Ben Strausser. The three have a tight relationship because of their service.

“It’s an instant bond and an instant friend to keep you calm,” Clark says. “It’s a brotherhood, even if you haven’t served together. It’s a special bond we seem to have.”

And it seems that military experience can create model employees.

“In the military, basically, you’re ingrained with the work ethic,” Clark says. “You learn it really quickly while you’re in boot camp. They teach you to bond. Everything is about the team. You’re not going to make it without a team.

“That goes for the military and the dealership.”
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