From collision repair to local auto empire

by Myron Love  . Jun 30 2017
Tuscany Trucks Black Ops F-150 model outside Steeltown Ford in Selkirk. Steeltown is Manitoba's exclusive Tuscany truck dealer.

Tuscany Trucks Black Ops F-150 model outside Steeltown Ford in Selkirk. Steeltown is Manitoba's exclusive Tuscany truck dealer.

The Donvito name in Winnipeg is most closely associated with collision repair but, under the leadership of Paul Donvito, son of Donvito Collision and Glass founder Joe Donvito, the company has, in recent years, been expanding into other areas such as U-drive rentals and new and pre-owned auto sales.

“We started selling pre-owned vehicles three years ago,” says Paul Donvito, who joined his father in business 15 years ago while still in high school. “We needed a way to sell our U-Drive rentals after we took them out of service. We figured we would sell them directly to the public.”

Just over a year ago, Donvito took pre-owned auto sales to a new level when he entered into a partnership with veteran auto dealer Chris Dyck. The partners’ first joint venture was We Sell Cars, a pre-owned store on Pembina Highway housed in the former Gerry Gordon Mazda location.

“We go back 15 years,” says Dyck, who started in pre-owned sales and, in 2010, purchased Winnipeg Kia. “I sold Paul his first car and we have been friends ever since.”

We Sell Cars has a staff of 18 (including six sales reps) and carries an inventory of about 100 late-model vehicles with access to several hundred more.

“We’ve recorded steady growth,” Dyck reports. “Our sales are growing stronger every month.”

The location also houses a Donvito Collision centre and a U-drive outlet. Paul Donvito reports that the Donvito Family now operates four collision centres in Winnipeg, 12 car rental locations throughout Manitoba (and two more in Calgary — with locations in Toronto and Montreal to follow) and recently opened an OK Tire Service outlet on Arlington.

In mid-February, Donvito and Dyck acquired Winnipeg Hyundai (see April 7 Free Press story). They are on the lookout for further investment opportunities.

Steeltown Ford: Manitoba’s Tuscany dealer

Steeltown Ford in Selkirk has been appointed Manitoba’s only Tuscany F150 and F250 dealer.

“You have to sell a certain minimum number of trucks to qualify to sell Tuscany models,” Steeltown Ford sales rep Shawn Trudeau says.

Tuscany is Ford Motor Company’s largest and longest-running specialty vehicle manufacturer. Tuscany Trucks include the F-150 Shelby (Shelby is best known for Ford’s Mustang), the flagship FTX, the Black Ops and the all-new Tonka. The 150 models are powered by a five-litre, V-8 FFV engine with six-speed automatic transmission. The supercharged version puts out 700 horsepower, Trudeau notes.

The F250 is equipped with a 6.7-litre four-valve Power Stroke diesel V-8 engine with six-speed automatic transmission.

Trudeau notes the models are in limited supply. Steeltown Ford has four models in stock. New models can be custom-ordered. The base price for the Tuscany F150 is $119,000.

Birchwood Ford give back

On June 15, Birchwood Ford brought Ford Motor Company of Canada’s innovative Drive One 4 UR School program to École Provencher in St. Boniface. For every person who test-drove a Ford vehicle at the school on June 15, Birchwood Ford and Ford of Canada donated $20 toward major playground improvements, including an outdoor classroom, new play equipment and increased greenspace. The event raised $2,800 after 140 people took test drives.

“The overall event was amazing and well organized by the team at École Provencher,” says Birchwood Ford general sales manager Reagan Slezak. “We were more than impressed with the entire event and how they pulled the entire community together in their efforts.”

In the 2015-16 school year, École Provencher changed from a kindergarten-Grade 6 school, to kindergarten-Grade 3. The building is also home to two daycares and a nursery-school program.

“Right now, we have a lot of asphalt and structures that are geared towards older elementary kids,” says Lyette Carrière, principal of École Provencher. “The parent advisory council is working to make the outdoor space safer for the little ones.”

The event included the Ford Escape, F-150, Fusion and Mustang. At the same time, the school hosted a community barbecue complete with magicians, inflatable bouncy castles and face painting.

Ford of Canada and its dealerships have been supporting local communities with the Drive 4UR program since 2010, generating more than $8 million in donations for schools and charities across Canada.

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Dealer of the week

Sales Rep: Craig Deslandes

Dealership: Birchwood Kia on Regent

No. of Years: One month (two years in auto sales)

Favourite Model: Kia Sedona

Why: “I like all the features the Sedona has to offer, as well as the comfort and the ride,” Deslandes says. “I also appreciate the new technology.”

Myron Love / Winnipeg Free PressChris Dyck (left) and Paul Donvito outside their new We Sell Cars store.

Myron Love / Winnipeg Free Press

Chris Dyck (left) and Paul Donvito outside their new We Sell Cars store.