Jack Van't Spyker
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Trying to pin down Jack Van't Spyker for just 10 minutes is no mean feat. He's the owner of Trillium Ford Lincoln, one of the largest automobile dealerships in South Simcoe, is an active member of the Rotary Club and finds time to do charitable work overseas. He's busy, but wouldn't have it any other way.

Fortunately, he slowed down long enough to chat with us about his business, the community he loves, charitable work, and the perspective that comes from working in impoverished nations.

Trillium Ford Lincoln has grown from a small garage in downtown Alliston to a large dealership at the corner of Highway 89 and County Road 10. That's quite a success story. Tell us a bit about the evolution of the business.
I emigrated from Holland in 1969 and settled in Alliston. I was already a trained mechanic, and after a few years working in that field opened a garage, Jack's Service Center, in 1973, in 1974 I continued with automotive services with a partner, Sam Miedema. We obtained a Ford and Mercury franchise in 1975 and in 1993 we moved the business to its current location. Presently we are in the process of renovating and adding 5,000 square feet to the show room and service write-up area.

What's the secret to your success?
That's easy. The secret to success in any business is customer service, a good product, well-trained employees, and most importantly, the support of your community.

Is that why you joined the Rotary Club, to give back to the community?
 Exactly. I was invited to join 16 years ago and was happy to join because Rotary is a strong local community service group and that matches with my beliefs – the community has always supported me and my business, so I wanted to give back to the community in some way. I've been involved in a variety of activities over the years, including helping to organize the Potato Festival Parade and the polo event, the proceeds of which go to the Alliston hospital.

And of course you were involved in the renovations of the octagonal drive shed at the Banting Homestead.
I was the co-chair, with Hart Holmstrom, of the Alliston Lions Club, of a committee with the mandate to restore the drive shed as part of the total restoration of the Banting Homestead. The work was done two years ago, between April and September. That was an important project because Sir Frederick Banting's legacy is important not just for the community, but all of Canada and the world.

Your charitable efforts aren't confined to the local area, are they? Your work with the Rotary Club has seen you go overseas to do work abroad several times as well. Where did you go and what did you do?
The Rotary Club also has a strong overseas reach. We do fundraising for projects with schools and medical clinics in poor countries all over the world. We currently have a container on its way to Tanzania with medical supplies for two clinics that are intended to reduce the transfer of HIV from mother to child at birth.
I've gone overseas several times, to Burkino Faso, Tanzania, three times, and the Dominican Republic. I helped to build schools -- lending a hand painting, pushing a wheelbarrel filled with sand and gravel, construction, and sitting in management meetings.

Finally, being in these less-fortunate nations must give you a unique perspective on your own community.
It does. Going overseas gives you great insight in to other cultures, but it also gives you a great appreciation for your own country and community. Alliston is a prosperous, growing community, a very pretty town in beautiful surroundings with plenty of access to food and water. The places in the world that I've been to can't say that. It makes you appreciate home but also makes you lend a helping hand where it is needed.  

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