Have you ever noticed that it’s not the vehicles that affect your purchase experience, but the person who sells it to you? For most of us, buying a vehicle is a bit stressful. We have wants and needs, but also a budget we have to consider. A pushy sales rep can add to that stress and even cause you to leave with something you couldn’t really afford or no vehicle at all. But that all changed for me when I met Sam Ellis, a sales consultant for Toyota of Olympia. Instantly, I saw how buying my next vehicle could be fun.

Sam shares Toyota of Olympia’s motto – that car buying should be fun – and he strives to make it so for every person that walks into their showroom. “It’s all about the people,” he explains. “Cars sell themselves. What’s important is the person who is selling you the car. They make the difference in the deal. I am not going to push you or pressure you.”

Toyota of Olympia Sam Ellis
Sam with a couple of his Toyota family members showing that they have just as much fun on the job as they hope you do when you visit. Photo credit: Toyota of Olympia

And he doesn’t need to. Toyota’s many models offer something for everyone and really do sell themselves, Sam says. Couple that with Sam’s 30-years of knowledge about the brand and his genuine concern for your needs, wants and budget, and you are sure to have a fun time selecting your next vehicle.

What makes Sam so different? To start, he is a Tumwater native. In fact, he still owns his parents’ house where he grew up. This means he not only knows his product, but he knows his customers.

It all started when Sam was a sophomore at Tumwater High School. “I was basically the gopher, doing anything they needed,” he says. “I started out just washing cars, or whatever the owners needed me to do, including pulling blackberries off their other stores.” He adds the job did have it perks, such as getting to drive the new cars when they needed their tanks filled or to be washed.

Sam adds that he and his father also used to work on cars together. “That’s probably why I was interested in working at Toyota at first,” Sam shares.

Thirty years later, Sam is still at his first job. Why? He says he loves the atmosphere. “I like working with people and there is a really good team atmosphere here. There always has been,” he explains. “Everyone here takes care of each other and has each other’s back.”

Toyota of Olympia Sam Ellis
When it’s time for a break, Sam loves an iced Americano from the new Tumwater location’s cafe. Photo credit: Toyota of Olympia

During that time, Sam has had a variety of positions within the company, including tow truck driver, lot attendant, working in the parts department and finally as service manager where he spent the majority of his career.

Although Sam has moved to sales, he laughs that he will never be fully out of the service department. In fact, as we are talking, someone from service comes in and says a customer will only talk to Sam. “This happens to me all the time,” he says with a smile. “I can’t really leave service.”

It’s easy to see why. Sam is honest and genuine – he isn’t going to tell you your vehicle needs repairs when it doesn’t, or try to sell you a vehicle above your budget. After all, you don’t cheat your friends, and Sam considers his customers friends – family even. “They are my Toyota family,” he says. “I made a lot of really good friends. Friends I go to dinner with. It’s very different than a lot of people who work in service. I was taught to treat people like that and good things will happen.”

Sam Ellis’s Favorite Things

  • Favorite Toyota model: FJ Crusier
  • Favorite local drive: Downtown by the waterfront
  • Favorite car-themed movie: “You Only Live Twice” featuring a rare Toyota 2000GT
  • Favorite car snack: Life Savers

Something good definitely came to Sam – he met his wife while working at Toyota. “A longtime customer of mine asked me one day if I was single,” Sam says. “And, I was. He set me up with his sister. Our first date was the Race for the Cure because both of our mothers had had breast cancer.” After a few dates Sam says they fell in love.

Sam shares that his parents taught be example. “I remember one Thanksgiving at the old dealership, a family’s RV was broken down in the Toyota lot,” he says. “I told my parents they were stuck camping there. My parents took them Thanksgiving dinner. I love to ‘wow’ people like that – to do something out of the ordinary that they would not expect.”

So go visit Sam. You are sure to receive a warm welcome and be treated fairly. Plus, he promises to make car buying fun again. When you do visit, be sure to ask him about his other loves, chocolate labrador Kona and cocker spaniel Sully.


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