Toyota Canada’s ‘gatekeeper’ at the Port of Vancouver runs a tight ship

Every Toyota vehicle built in Japan for Canada arrives through the Port of Vancouver. And every one of them goes through Prabh Sanghera, as do vehicles built in North America heading to the Western provinces.

Officially, she’s the consultant for port operations of vehicle logistics, but as Toyota’s only representative there, she calls herself “the gatekeeper.”

“I work for Toyota Canada, but all overseas products go through WWS, a third-party operator that runs the port, and I have an office in that,” she said. “I’m responsible for a lot of pieces in the puzzle.”

When a ship is on its way, she negotiates with WWS for its arrival and offloading. Delays affect vehicle deliveries and the ship’s return to Japan for another load.

Sanghera oversees vehicles through customs and then onto trucks and trains. She also oversees installation of items such as roof racks.

“My day starts with emails, if I need to rush anything to support the dealer network, where I need to prioritize. I manage the product flow through the processing centre. I bring in people from WWS, the railways, the carriers to get the job done.

“Multiple automakers come through the centre, so I make sure [WWS] is maintaining Toyota’s service level. The vessels go to Canada and the U.S., and the U.S. has a bigger voice, so I make sure Canada is taken care of in the scheduling.”

Sanghera, 41, has a degree in engineering and joined Toyota as an engineer at its Cambridge, Ont., factory. She took on her current job in 2011 after moving to Vancouver.

“Everything’s a pressure point with the tight inventory right now, and even a day’s change in a rail schedule will have an impact. It’s up to me to get the vehicle to the dealer as soon as possible. It’s a balancing act to finetune it and get everything done.”

Sanghera is also chair of Women Influencing and Impacting Toyota, a business initiative empowering female employees.



The Genesis customer journey is entirely online, from the first visit to the final documents. Fine-tuning that process is Brodie Creighton, sales operations supervisor at Genesis Motors Canada’s head office in Markham, Ont.

“I’m always looking at ways of improving the customer experience,” he said. “There are aspects we have to look at where other automakers don’t [on their websites], such as fees, deposits and regulations, because the bill of sale comes through the website.

I have to keep it up to date, and there’s always customer demand to make the website as transparent as possible.”

Creighton also manages customer retention and sales data. And when someone purchases a vehicle, he and his two-person team provide it.

“We have two main locations where we keep vehicles, one in [British Columbia] and one in Ontario,” he said. “If we have it in inventory, it will go out from there.”

If there isn’t a vehicle in inventory, he checks what’s en route from South Korea. If a vehicle intended for inventory matches the order, he lines it up for delivery. That happens often because he analyzes years of sales data and orders the configurations customers are most likely to want. Otherwise, he places a factory order.

Creighton, 33, earned a degree in automotive business. He initially worked as a sales analyst for Honda and in 2018 took a similar job at Genesis. Within a year, he became a sales specialist and then added distribution supervisor to his role.

“I was involved with the website from the beginning and became manager of it as well.

“I enjoy looking for potential problems and coming up with solutions to them. It’s always better if I find the issue rather than the customer.”

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