For the sixth time in the past seven years, the Consumer Choice Award winner in the Used Car Dealer category is Dan Gagnon and Gord Pedersen's Auto Gallery of Canada.
"This is very exciting for us," Pedersen said. "We're as pleased as can be about winning again. It's a testament to the loyalty of our growing client base.
The Consumer Choice Award, Pedersen noted, is an award based on customer surveys, and "that can make it more difficult to win.
"I tried the questionnaire myself last year. The survey is very professionally done. The questions aren't leading in any way."
The Consumer Choice Award winners in each major city in Canada and the United States are chosen by the general public. The awards cover a wide range of categories of interest to the public and are intended to identify those businesses that consumers feel have reached a level of excellence.
Pedersen said Auto Gallery is the top pre-owned auto dealership in Winnipeg in terms of repeat business and referrals. "Two-thirds of our sales are to repeat customers or purchasers who have been referred to us by previous customers," he said.
Gagnon and Pedersen, Auto Gallery's founding partners, were both long-time auto sales reps when they joined forces in 2002 to open their own business. The company specializes in newer used models, generally with some warranty left.
"We also offer our own extended, full-coverage warranty up to seven years," Pedersen added.
To handle the ever-increasing customer demand, Gagnon and Pedersen last fall opened a second store across the street from their original location at 3777 Portage, just east of the Perimeter. The new store was formerly Bill McMurray Auto Centre and the home of Winnipeg Hyundai before that. (Winnipeg Hyundai relocated to the former Woodhaven Lexus Toyota store -- now at the Pointe West Auto_park -- a block farther west.)
"At our new location, we have a larger service department and can do some minor customizing," Pedersen said. "We're also carrying more luxury models. While Dan is purchasing more vehicles, he has very stringent criteria. Our models have to have low mileage and be in pristine condition."
Pedersen gives all the credit for Auto Gallery's success to the dealership's long-time staff members.
"Our staff works hard every day to make sure that our customers are happy with our service and their purchases. We've had very little turnover in staff."
The Consumer Choice Awards presentation will be presented on June 26, at the Gates on Roblin.
Winnipeg Honda sales rep tops in Canada
For the second year in a row, Winnipeg Honda's Dylan Foui was the top-selling Honda sales rep in Canada. (Honda Canada has 1,750 sales reps on its books.)
Foui received the plaque recognizing his achievements at a presentation in Banff a couple of months back. Foui sold more than 700 new and used vehicles last year, up by more than 50 from the year before.
"I look out for what are the best interests for my customers," he said ."I try to make sure they get good deals."
Foui, who has been at Winnipeg Honda since 2004, is assisted in his sales efforts by a team that also includes Jeremy Sturby (who received the Dilawri Auto Group's WOW Award for his outstanding results last year) and Graham Loughrin.
"Both Graham and Jeremy do an outstanding job," Foui said.
Gerald Boiteau named new General Manager at Winnipeg Hyundai
For the past 20 years, Gerald Boiteau has been closely identified with European luxury vehicles in Winnipeg.
Now, Winnipeg Hyundai president Chris Daman is betting that Boiteau can transfer his marketing and promotional acumen to Hyundai products and send already sky-rocketing Hyundai sales into overdrive.
Named Winnipeg Hyundai's new general sales manager, Boiteau started at the west Portage store in mid-May.
"It was time for a change," he said. "My experience in the industry has always been with a single-owner store and that is what Winnipeg Hyundai is. I'm looking forward to continuing my career here."
Boiteau said he's amazed at the quality of Hyundai's product line.
"I had been selling a luxury brand. I was surprised at how much luxury Hyundai offers. You can get a fully loaded Hyundai with every luxury option - heated steering wheel, full sunroof, back-up camera and navigation system, for example -- for under $40,000.
"And the five-year warranty is outstanding."
Selling cars is a people business, and the brand itself isn't as important as the rapport that sales reps build with their clients, he said.
"I may have switched brands, but many of my customers are sticking with me."
Boiteau said he's looking forward to helping Daman and his team to even greater success. "I can add a certain energy," he added.
New General Manager at Winnipeg Suzuki
Over at Winnipeg Suzuki. Ron McDonald was appointed general sales manager early in the year. McDonald, who has worked in auto sales for 12 years, was brought to the dealership by vice-president Pier Chiapetta, with whom he had worked at his last posting.
"Pier made me an offer I couldn't refuse," McDonald said, adding he's very enthusiastic about Suzuki's 2013 product line. There have been no major design changes this year, but prices are all lower.
Porsche Centre Winnipeg gets new general manager
Michael Desgroseilliers is the new general manager at Porsche Centre Winnipeg.
Desgroseilliers began his career at Auto Haus Volkswagen/Porsche 11 years ago. He returned to the dealership last August after some years in sales and management with other dealerships.
"It's fantastic being general manager at Porsche Centre Winnipeg," he said. "We have a terrific product line and great people here in a brand-new building."
Sales rep moves
Gavino Lima, a seven-year veteran of the industry, is Winnipeg Suzuki's new finance manager, while former pharmaceutical sales rep Jillian Penner has recently joined the dealership's sales staff.
Jim Gauthier Chev has welcomed Brandon Ray to its sales team. Ray is a nine-year industry veteran. His previous experience had been selling Asian models.
"It was time for a change, and this is closer to home," Ray said. "Sales have been good for me here so far."
Mike Delorme has brought his seven years of experience selling Chrysler and Dodge products to Eastern Chrysler Dodge Jeep's sales team.
"I like the fact that Eastern Chrysler is still a family-run business," Delorme said. "They conduct business here the way I like to conduct my business. Management is very supportive. There is little pressure. It's enjoyable working here."
Shane Mealy has been a Ford sales rep, both here and in Calgary, throughout his six years in auto sales. He joined the staff at Mid-Town Ford in early May.
"Mid-Town is a bigger and busier store than where I was before," Mealy said. "I thought there were be better opportunity for more sales. So far, it is going very well for me here."