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Birchwood Infiniti Nissan two-time award winner

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For the second year in a row, Birchwood Infiniti Nissan has earned Nissan Canada's Award of Excellence.

Birchwood Infiniti Nissan general manager Christian Goleski said the Birchwood store was one of just 20 Nissan dealers across Canada (out of a total 180 stores) and just one of three in Western Canada to receive the prestigious award.

The citation is based on sales volumes and customer-satisfaction ratings.

"It was quite an accomplishment for our team to earn this award," Goleski said. "And we are having a really good year this year. This is our first full year in our newly expanded building. We're freshly renovated and it's full steam ahead."

Frontier Toyota sales rep is group's top seller

When Margaret Morton walked into Frontier Toyota 13 years ago to apply for a job, she thought the opening was for a receptionist. It turned out to be for a sales rep.

"I had never considered a sales career," she recalled. "But my brothers encouraged me to give it a try."

Morton has never looked back, and has consistently been one of the Regent Avenue dealership's top-selling sales reps.

But it's one thing to be top salesperson in a family-owned business, and quite another to outsell more than 200 other sales reps in a multi-store auto group. Yet, that's exactly what Morton accomplished last year after the Pattison Auto Group acquiring Frontier Toyota and Frontier Subaru from the Thompson family in January, 2012.

Pattison operates 20 dealerships on the West Coast in addition to its two Winnipeg stores. Earlier this year, the auto group named Morton its New Vehicle Sales Person of the Year.

Morton said she sold 175 vehicles last year -- "I sell 15 cars a month -- mainly new vehicles -- on average." And she gives her former boss, Marcel Thompson (who passed away early in 2012), a lot of the credit for her success.

"I had the utmost respect for Marcel," she said. "He treated me very well. He taught me everything I know. The key is to treat properly, with respect. I try to be honest and straightforward with my customers. I treat them right."

Shayna Kemel is also making her mark in sales at Frontier Toyota. In early March, she earned her first Pinnacle Award from Toyota Canada based on her customer-satisfaction ratings for last year.

CSI scores are based on surveys that customers fill out. Kemel, who has been in auto sales for 10 years, the last four with Frontier Toyota, said her score was 98.3 per cent.

Kemel was the only sales rep in Winnipeg to have earned a Toyota Pinnacle Award for her efforts last year, but Calvin Funk of Funk's Toyota in Steinbach earned his second one. He last earned the honour in 2009. He's been selling vehicles at Funk's Toyota for 16 years.

Other non-sales Toyota dealership employees also earned Pinnacle Awards for 2012.

Funk's Toyota service adviser Chuck Dueck, who has been with the the Steinbach dealer for 22 years, and Woodhaven Lexus Toyota service rep Kyle Wiwchar, in just his first full year in the industry, both earned their first citations.

"I was green as green could be when I started work here in September, 2011," Wiwchar said. "I've worked hard getting to know our vehicles and doing all I can for our customers. I was happy to be recognized."

McPhillips Toyota has three Pinnacle Award winners in Giselle Campbell and Kelly Carter in the business office and Oscar Jimenez, the store's leasing manager. It was Jimenez' third award in his four years at the dealership, and the fourth for the store's business office in the past four years..

O'Connell new general sales manager at Autotown Kia

Autotown Kia's new general sales manager is a familiar figure in Winnipeg auto sales. Warren O'Connell, who assumed the position in mid-January, has worked in the industry here for 20 years, the past eight in management.

O'Connell left his last position in Winnipeg in the fall for a short-term contract with a dealer group in Alberta. "I was helping them organize some new programs," he said, adding his family stayed in Winnipeg while he was out west.

He said he's happy to join the Autotown Kia team. "Kia is one of the fastest-growing brands in Canada," he noted, "and Autotown Kia also has one of Winnipeg's largest selections of used cars."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 19, 2013 E10

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