Over the past two years, five family-owned, standalone Winnipeg auto dealerships -- almost half of such enterprises in the city -- have been acquired by larger auto groups.
But that's not the path Parkside Ford Lincoln is taking, The long-standing North Main dealership across from Kildonan Park is in the midst of a major upgrade, a reflection of president Cam MacIver's commitment to the community and confidence in the future.
"We moved into the trailers on February 7," MacIver said. "First came the deconstruction. Now we're into the reconstruction phase.
"Our new building, we believe, will provide our customers with an enhanced buying experience. The building will have all the up-to-date Ford fonts and colours. We will have separate Ford and Lincoln showrooms with separate entrances."
One unique-to-Winnipeg feature of the reconfigured dealership will be a full-service restaurant in the northwest corner of the building. (The only other dealership with an in-store restaurant here is Birchwood Keystone Ford, which has a Salisbury House outlet in the store.)
"We're thinking outside the box and thinking about our neighbourhood," MacIver said. "We think that having a restaurant serving good-quality food will offer a different kind of experience for customers who come into our store. Someone coming in for an oil change or a quick repair can have breakfast or just a coffee in the restaurant.
The MacIver family has played a prominent role in Winnipeg's auto industry for many decades. Cam's late father, Bruce, became the dealer principal in 1967.
The local competition got tougher in 1986 after Birchwood Auto Group opened its own Ford store on north McPhillips Street, MacIver noted. In 2005, Birchwood agreed to sell the north-end store to MacIver, who had it demolished.
"The Chipman family was gracious enough to allow me to purchase the McPhillips store," MacIver said. "For the past 10 years our profits have been growing, and now we have the wherewithal for this project."
Construction is expected to be completed by June, 2015. MacIver is hopeful that the major work will done by mid-winter so that his staff won't have to spend an entire second winter in the trailers.
MacIver said he's also considering doing something with his used-car lot just to the north of the new-car dealership.
But two things that won't change, he added, are Parkside's family-oriented customer service and, of course, the free bottles of mustard given to everyone who comes into the dealership --a feature which has long been associated with "Mustard Man" Cam MacIver, "who cuts the mustard every time."