McPhillips Nissan, Winnipeg's newest Nissan dealer, has just grown a lot bigger. The dealership, across from the Garden City Shopping centre, has completed a major expansion that doubled the size of the building.
The expansion includes a second floor for the head office and accounting functions as well as a new service drive-thru.
"We are conforming to the Nissan imaging requirements," said dealer principal Jeff Novakoski. "We now have the largest Nissan showroom in Winnipeg. We have a new customer lounge with a coffee bar and entertainment system, an information centre where you can build your own model online, and 18 service bays.
"And we are selling our fair share of product."
McPhillips Nissan is located in the former home of the defunct Garden Gate Pontiac Buick GMC. The store was most recently Auto West, a used-car operation founded by former Manitoban Lawrence Isfeld in 2004. Novakoski and his partners, Dale Isfeld and Darrel Endresen, bought the business from Isfeld (who is not related to Dale Isfeld) in early 2011. Novakoski had been the sales manager at AutoWest for two years prior to becoming managing partner.
Auto West had been one of Winnipeg's largest used-car dealers, carrying between 200 and 240 late-model vehicles. The dealership had been selling a varied selection of makes and models manufactured between 2002 and 2011.
For Nissan Canada, with existing stores in east, west and south Winnipeg, the new store completes the circle. "Nissan was impressed by our outstanding sales and service record over the past two years," Novakoski said. McPhillips Nissan carries up to 140 new Nissan models as well as about 100 used vehicles of differing brands.
"We want to thank Winnipeg for the great support," Novakoski said. "We have a lot of loyal customer and we want to continue to offer them the kinds of choices they are used to."
With the expansion, Novakoski and his team have bulked up their sales staff, starting with veteran sales managers Dan Jaman and John Medeiros. Medeiros joined the store's Nissan's management team at the end of July after 25 years in management with the former Haber Suzuki on Regent.
"I considered my options," said Medeiros, who started work in the auto business as a sales rep for Nairn Nissan). "I felt that McPhillips Nissan would be a good fit for me. I grew up in this area. The population in northwest Winnipeg is growing rapidly. This is a beautiful store with a great product."
Dan Jaman has been in the business for the past 15 years, having sold both domestic and import models. Two years ago, he took a break from being in management
"I live in Anola," he said. "For the past two years, I was working at Melnyk Motors in Beausejour. I was the only sales rep. I was selling 10 to 15 cars a month."
It was his long-time friendship with Jeff Novakoski that led Jaman to return to management in September.
"Jeff and I got to know each other when we worked together as sales managers at another dealership," Jaman said. "We had been talking for a few months about my joining the staff here.
"It's great being back in management," he says. "I prefer working at an independently-owned dealership, and this is the right end of town for me."
Novakoski and his management team have put together a diversified sales staff. Bob Buchanan is the veteran sales rep. He has been in auto sales for 25 years, all at the same location. He started with Garden Gate and stayed on when Auto West moved in.
Among McPhillips Nissan's new sales reps are Gemma Gonzalez, Olaf Ryzanowski, Nav Bains, Bobby Singh, Remy Anwar, Kingsley Penry and Val Anyanwu (formerly a professional soccer player in Nigeria).
"We think we have put together a good sales team," Jaman said.
New look for Craig Dunn Motor City
Back in the '90s, Craig Dunn Motor City in Portage La Prairie was one of the first Canadian General Motors dealers to introduce what was then known as GM's new look.
"After 15 years, it was time once again to refresh our dealership and upgrade the GM Image," said dealer principal Craig Dunn.
That task was completed a couple of months back. The old tower has been replaced and the entrance is now the blue Chevy look.
"We remodeled the interior as well as the exterior," Dunn said. "Our store now has a more contemporary look. It looks fresh and inviting.
"We have had a very positive response. Our customers really like the new look."
Addition to Winnipeg Hyundai staff
Paul Fedorowich, a veteran of 13 years in auto sales, joined the Winnipeg Hyundai sales team at the beginning of December.
"I had tried a new venture with social media,but it didn't work out," Fedorowhich said. "I wanted to get back into Hyundai sales. I had worked with Dave Alsip (Winnipeg Hyundai's new sales manager) for five years at another dealership, so I came here. It was a good move. Hyundai products are hot sellers."