Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winnipeg sales staff the gold standard

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Craig Pucely, John Puchniak and Mike Richardson once again are setting the gold standard for Murray Chevrolet's sales staff.

At the dealership's annual employee recognition luncheon on Thursday, the sales threesome were among numerous Murray staff who were recognized for their outstanding efforts and longevity among the dealership's employees. All three were repeat GM Sales Marketing Guild qualifiers at the gold level. They were joined last year by fellow sales rep Keith Place.

Richardson and Puchniak -- along with Murray Chev sales rep Rick Therrien and neighbouring Murray Hyundai sales reps Andrew Gowan and Al Luff -- finished in the top 10 in total sales among the Murray Auto Group's more than 100 sales reps working in 22 dealerships across Canada.

At the silver level again were Jamie Erb and Teddy Edwards with Therrien and Darrell Nordstrom moving up from bronze in their first full year with the dealership. Ray Reimer and Craig Kirkland qualified for bronze.

Timm Slaney once again earned a gold placing in GM's Fleet Managers Club.

As for Murray Chev service consultants, Murray Chev president Dan Murray was proud to announce almost all of the dealership's service consultants qualified for General Motors Service Consultants Guild membership. Kelly Scott, Ryan Smith and Rennie Verscheure earned gold rankings while Peter Butternowsky, Amanda Ritchot and Rob Watson came up with a silver ranking. Chris Rostek and Dennis Mitchell qualified at the bronze level.

Earning Grand Master ranking in GM's Technician's Guild were Greg Kilmnik, Wilf Neufeld, Jeff O'Keefe, John Peters, Dennis Pohl, Ken Stevenson, Les Shimizu, Bryan Verhoski and Dan Warman. Tom Mason qualified for the master category while Jarrett Hardman and Elmer Wiens qualified in the "skilled" category with tests scores of 80 per cent or better.

Murray ended the program with the announcements that service consultant Bob Degagne is retiring after 15 years. He also noted the passing of Herb Padwick, former Murray Chev general sales manager who left in 2002 to become dealer principal at the dealership in Estevan. Padwick left the industry three years ago due to ill health. He passed away on May 14. A memorial service was held in Regina last Monday.

***

Amanda Saunders, co-owner of Epic Dealer Solutions Ltd. with her husband, Joel, was the top prize winner at this year's Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards dinner on May 17 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. The annual event is organized by the Women Business Owners of Manitoba. Saunders was presented with the Overall Excellence Award.

"It was nerve-wracking. But very exciting," said the honoree. "I was nominated by RBC. The best thing about this award is that it is positive recognition for the auto industry. There are a lot of really good guys in the industry."

Saunders describes Epic Dealer Solutions as "an invisible company." She and her staff quietly arrange the financing for most of the used car dealerships in Manitoba. "While we deal mainly with used car dealers, we are beginning to get some business from the franchise dealers as well," she says.

The 29-year-old Saunders got her feet wet in the auto industry working for Auto Finance Corporation out of Adesa Winnipeg, Manitoba's premier vehicle auction house. "I saw a demand for a reliable financial brokerage for smaller independent auto dealers," Saunders says.

Today, Epic Dealer Solutions has two other employees and is on the verge of opening a Saskatchewan branch in Saskatoon. "Our business has grown entirely by word of mouth," Saunders says. "We have had a lot of support in the industry. We are the only ones who do what we do."

Saunders notes that Epic brings together dealers and lenders. "It was difficult getting our first lending institution on board but, after that, the doors opened for us. Half of our lenders are based in communities in rural Manitoba."

She expresses her appreciation for the strong support that Epic Dealer Solutions has received from Adesa, the Manitoba Used Car Dealers Association and AFC.

Saunders had earlier been named the winner in the young entrepreneur category.

***

Congratulations to Vickar Chev on the dealership's 50th anniversary. Vickar Chev is celebrating with a month-long sale throughout June. "This is a customer appreciation event," says general manager Sam Vickar. "This is one of the biggest sales we have ever had."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 1, 2012 E2

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