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Oldest Mazda Canada dealership celebrates 40 years

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<p>Photos by Myron Love / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Gerry Gordon (from left), Canada&rsquo;s longest serving Mazda dealer with David Klan, Mazda Canada senior director of sales, marketing and regional operations, and Mazda Canada president Masaharu (Massey) Kondo. </p>

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More than 200 loyal customers, as well as top Mazda executives from across Canada, came out on May 11 to celebrate Gerry Gordon Mazda’s 40th anniversary.

Revellers were treated to Rae and Jerry’s Steak House food, wine, two cakes and live music provided by Glen Williams and his Rockalypso band — including former Gerry Gordon Mazda sales representative Doug Wilson on guitar.

Guests included Mazda Canada executives Masaharu (Massey) Kondo, president; David Klan, senior director of sales, marketing and regional operations; Mike Collinson, senior director of customer experience; Scot Rasmussen, western regional manager; Michael Labinowicz, dealer business manager and Gorge Benda, field technical manager.

Gerry Gordon Mazda is Canada’s oldest Mazda dealer.

"We have 165 dealer partners from coast to coast," said David Klan. "Only 12 go back to Mazda Canada early years (Mazda Canada was founded in 1968) and only one — Gerry Gordon Mazda — still has the original dealer principal. Over the years, Gerry has displayed a strong commitment to his customers and to Mazda. Over 40 years, this dealership has delivered 12,000 new vehicles and registered more than 50,000 customer service moments."

Following congratulatory remarks by Mazda Canada president Kondo, Rod Gordon (Gerry’s son and the dealership’s general manager) recalled how Gerry Gordon, a race car driver and son of a car guy in Northern Ireland, came to Winnipeg in 1967 with $50 in his pocket to start a new life. Gordon first acquired a garage, Coventry Motors, that specialized in repairing British imports. In 1977, he came to an agreement with Mazda Canada to open a Mazda dealership in the city.

"That was the best decision I ever made," Gordon said. "Our continued success through the years has been a testament to our relationship with Mazda, the quality of the product and the people of Winnipeg who have been our loyal customers over the years."

He also praised his team of Mazda Canada advisers and his own dedicated staff — and his wife and partner, Patty.

"We are looking forward to many more years working together with Mazda Canada as part of the Mazda Canada team."

Gerry Gordon has been at its present location at the Waverley Auto Mall in south Winnipeg for about four years. At 18,000 square feet, this location is three times the size of the original store. The showroom has space for eight vehicles as compared to five before and 12 service bays where the old building had eight. The new store stocks about 300 new vehicles.

Changes at St. James

 

Gerald Boiteau is the new dealer principal at St. James Volkswagen/Audi Winnipeg. The former managing partner at Auto Haus Volkswagen/Porsche assumed the role at the Volkswagen/Audi store effective May 10.

Boiteau replaces Mark Warsaba, who had been the dealer principal at the dealership at 670 Century St. since 2013, shortly after Auto Canada acquired the family-run store from partners Russ Saladin, Rick Heatherington and Melanie Doell.

Warsaba was recently promoted to Auto Canada’s head office in Edmonton, where as senior vice-president and chief operations officer (reporting directly to president and CEO Steven Landry), he will be responsible for overseeing the operations of Auto Canada’s 57 dealerships across Canada — as well as the integration and subsequent performance of new dealerships the auto group may acquire.

"This is a great opportunity to take what I learned managing St. James Volkswagen and Audi Winnipeg and apply those lessons to the entire Auto Canada group," Warsaba says. "We have a phenomenal team at St. James Volkswagen/Audi Winnipeg. And every one of our customers is a class act. It was a pleasure getting to know them."

Boiteau couldn’t be happier in his new role. "I feel like I’ve come back home," Boiteau says. "Volkswagen dealers across Canada have phoned to welcome me back to the team. And several of my former Volkswagen customers have already contacted me about buying new models here."

Boiteau praises his predecessor for the great work he did building up a strong sales team at the Century Street dealerships and boosting sales. The new head honcho is anticipating adding his own tried and true customer-friendly and staff-friendly touches to the operation. He has already begun his traditional weekly staff barbecues.

"It’s important to invest in your staff," he says, "to show that you respect them and appreciate their efforts. I do the cooking at the barbecues."

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Dealer of the week

Sales Rep: Joe Da Silva

Dealership: Birchwood Infiniti

No. of Years: Four

Favourite Model: Infiniti Q50

Why: “The Q50 is what I am driving,” Da Silva says. “I like the interactive technology. It’s a smooth ride and a very easy car to drive.”

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