McLaughlin GM, Neepawa's longtime General Motors dealer, has a new look and a new location. The dealership opened at its new location -- at 154 Main Street W. on Highway 16 just west of town -- on May 7.
At 10,000 square feet, the new facility is 4,000-square-feet larger than the old building in downtown Neepawa.
"We have a three-car showroom with two pub-style tables with bar stools where staff and customers can sit down together," says dealer principal Ryan McLaughlin. "We also offer customers -- in our showroom -- a lounge with a coffee machine, juice bar, fresh fruit, WiFi, a television and a fireplace."
He adds the reception, parts and service counters are set up in a triangular arrangement for customer convenience.
In the service area, there are six bays plus a wash and reconditioning area. Between each service bay, McLaughlin points out, there is enough space to be able to pull in a vehicle for a diagnostic while other vehicles are up on the hoists.
The dealership also has a new tire centre.
The GM dealership has been in operation in Neepawa for over 80 years. McLaughlin and his partners acquired the dealership from Rick Murray (whose grandfather started the business) in May, 2008.
Ryan McLaughlin himself has been in the auto industry for 25 years and has been a dealer principal for the past 12 years. (Winnipeg readers may remember him from the former McPhilips Ford Lincoln Mercury.)
McLaughlin notes that McLaughlin GM has one of western Manitoba's largest selections of new GMC, Chevy and Buick models. The dealership has also been ranked as one of Canada's 50 best managed companies.
Another long-standing dealership -- Eastern Chrysler Dodge Jeep on north Main Street -- is leading the way in complying with Chrysler's new Image program. Eastern began renovations to the front of the building in mid-April and is scheduled to be sporting the new look by the end of June.
(Waverley Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Gauthier Chrysler Dodge Jeep are also in the process of renovating the fronts of their buildings to Chrysler Image standards.)
The Chrysler Image upgrade at Eastern is the most recent in an ongoing series of renovations that began last year. General manager Roger Dorge points out the redesigned customer lounge with coffee bar and flat-screen plasma TV and the new look parts and service area and new Express Lane where you can come in without an appointment and get your oil changed in 30 minutes.
Dorge is new to the general manager's position. He had been the dealership's controller for the past five years. By assuming the GM role, he reduces the workload for Marietta Rewucki, Eastern's president, who had also been functioning as general manager.
Dorge is a "lifer" in the auto industry. His father operated Dorge Pontiac Buick in Morris in the 1970s and 1980s. He himself has been active in the business in Winnipeg for the past 23 years including stints with several of the top GM and Chrysler dealerships in the city.
"I intend to continue doing things the Rewucki Way," he says, "but I will be bringing my own personality into the mix."
He notes that Chrysler Canada has been enjoying an outstanding year. "Chrysler has been the best-selling brand in Canada for the last four months in a row," he says.
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Three years ago, Birchwood Chev sales star Michael Palay lost his wife, Elana, to cancer at the young age of 40. A few months later, he also lost his father to cancer. Since then, he has been on a mission to raise money to help find a cure for the disease. He contributes $50 from every sale he makes to the cause and Saturday (June 9), he is running in his third CancerCare Manitoba Challenge for Life Run -- a 20K marathon beginning at Assiniboine Park.
He says his goal this year is to raise $15,000. Donations can be made through his website (michaelpalay.com) or by phoning the dealership (837-5811 ext 3153).
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An apology to Amanda Saunders, owner of Epic Dealer Solutions Ltd, who was the top prize winner at this year's Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards dinner on May 17. I erroneously reported that her husband, Joel, co-owns the company. He does not. Amanda is the sole owner of the business.