Published on Friday, 06 May 2011
I am the new President of the Toronto Automobile Dealers' Association (TADA).
I am honoured to assume the Presidency of the TADA, an association that has served its members since 1908. I'm looking forward to serving our association, and to building on its many strengths and traditions.
The TADA has been very active in recent years, developing new member services (Renewit, Aeroplan) to better serve our customers, and serving local communities (Ronald McDonald House, Trillium Gift of Life Network) through our charitable foundation.
Another tradition began nine years ago, when the Star offered the TADA an opportunity to discuss dealership and consumer issues in Toronto Star Wheels. I'd like to thank Joel Cohen and the previous presidents of TADA, who have done a superb job sharing their thoughts and opinions about the industry.
My career in the retail automotive business dates back to 1972, when I began working in the collision centre at Courtesy Chevrolet Oldsmobile in Toronto. I've always loved cars, and I knew I wanted a career in this industry.
In 1976, I moved to Mississauga (population 75,000 then) and worked for a body shop, which I purchased a year later. That's when I opened Woodchester Collision, while still in my early 20s, which is still going strong today.
Within three years, I built a new, stand-alone facility to handle our steadily increasing volumes. In the early days, we performed mostly warranty work for new car dealers, and we soon expanded to include all types of collision repairs.
In 1990, Nissan Canada approached my brother, Nick, and I about acquiring a Nissan franchise in the Erin Mills Auto Mall. We agreed to represent Nissan, and soon afterward, we acquired an Infiniti franchise as well — one of the first Infiniti franchises in Canada.
Today, we operate two Nissan and Infiniti dealerships, and a Kia franchise. This keeps Nick and I (along with our partners and staff members at Woodchester Auto Group) quite busy.
On the subject of staffing, one of the biggest challenges in operating a new car dealership is finding the right people. I've always maintained that the success of any dealership is 98 per cent dependent on its people.
Staffing is more critical today, because of the high degree of specialization required for most dealership positions. For example, vehicles require advanced technical expertise to properly diagnose and repair, more so than vehicles built a generation ago.
Dealers invest heavily to ensure that customer automotive needs are well looked after, in a cost-efficient, professional and timely manner.
One of the themes I'll explore in this column will be career opportunities in the retail auto sector. Over the next decade, as baby boomers retire, we will need to fill the ranks with qualified individuals.
I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts and opinions with readers over the next 12 months.