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Platinum Auto a stellar novice effort

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<p>Myron Love / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Platinum Auto Sales has an informal atmosphere customers love: you can even play pool while you wait for your car.</p>

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There are a lot of used car dealers in Winnipeg, but few can offer the range of services that Platinum Auto Sales can provide. The relatively new store at 3081 Portage Ave., formerly the home of Car World and, before that, Holiday Kia, provides sales and in-house financing, service and body work — and those customers who bring in their vehicles for service and want to wait can admire the vintage models and/or enjoy a game of pool at the pool table in the show room.

Platinum Auto Sales also sells motorcycles, snowmobiles and ATVs, dealer principal John Chrol notes.

"We sell a wide range of vehicles, foreign and domestic, late model and older, whatever we can bring in," Chrol says.

He reports that since the dealership opened for business near the end of May, sales have been steadily increasing. "December was our best month yet," Chrol says.

Although not yet 30, Chrol is a seasoned auto industry veteran. He has been buying and selling cars since he was 16 and he opened his first body shop in Charleswood at the tender age of 19. Four years ago, he relocated his body shop to the rear of 3081 Portage.

"With the front part sitting empty (after the departure of Car World), I saw an opportunity to start a new dealership here," Chrol says.

Platinum Auto carries an average of 35 models at any one time. The dealership also has four service bays and a 16,000-square-foot body shop.

"Our aim is to give every one of our customers the best possible buying experience," Chrol says.

He mentions the likelihood of an official grand opening with barbecue in late June or early July.

Chrol is aided by Dan Posner, the dealership’s general sales manager and finance manager. Posner has been working in auto sales and finance for the past 12 years. Most recently, he operated his own auto finance business.

"I love the informal atmosphere here," Posner says. "I also have a real passion for training. I enjoy being able to share my experience in the industry with our staff here and help them flourish."

Posner reports that along with in-house financing, Platinum Auto Sales has recently started dealing with national lenders. "We help our clients get approved for loans," he says.

New manager at Land Rover Volvo

Frank Veer continues to climb the ladder of success in auto sales. After about six months as sales manager at Birchwood GM, the Birchwood Auto Group’s flagship store, he was promoted last July to general sales manager at Jaguar Land Rover Volvo Winnpeg.

Veert’s entry into auto sales was facilitated by a fortuitous meeting on Sept. 6, 2012 with the late Bob Chipman, founder of the Birchwood Auto Group. At the urging of his father, John Veert, a longtime auto sales rep who also works for the Birchwood Group, the then-Asper School of Business student attended the University of Manitoba’s annual Bachelor of Commerce Business luncheon.

"I ended up sitting at a table with Mr. Chipman," Frank recalls. "When we went around introducing ourselves, Mr. Chipman recognized my name. My grandfather — who was also named Frank Veert — had worked for him for 40 years."

Frank Veert soon found himself working for the Birchwood Group in a number of positions of ever-increasing responsibility, while still attending university. After graduation last year and some time off for travel, Veert was appointed a sales manager.

"Mr. Chipman always stressed that my university studies were the top priority," Frank Veert says. "The Birchwood Group was able to accommodate my school schedule.

"I love it at Jaguar Land Rover Volvo Winnipeg," Veert says. "We have a great team and a great product lineup."

Veert reports that all three brands are selling very well. "Our sales last year grew by 56 per cent year over year, the best growth by far among new car dealers in Winnipeg," he says. "And all three will be launching new models this year.

"Our sales are growing at such a pace that we may soon have to consider expanding our dealership."

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