Myron Love / Winnipeg Free Press
Andy Rewucki, left, recently sold Selkirk Chrysler to Jeff Novakoski, right, and Lawrence Isfeld.
For more than 70 years, the Rewucki family name has been associated with the Chrysler brand in Manitoba. No longer.
As of May 16, Andy Rewucki’s Selkirk Chrysler is under new ownership. The new owners are Jeff Novakoski and Lawrence Isfeld, who also operate McPhillips Nissan in north Winnipeg.
The Rewucki family opened their original Chrysler store — Eastern Chrysler Dodge Jeep — in 1946 in Beausejour in southeastern Manitoba. The dealer principals were Andy Rewucki’s father, Joe, his grandfather, Andrew, and his uncle John Gusnoski. The family relocated the store to Winnipeg in 1957.
While Andy’s sister, Marietta, took over the operation of Eastern Chrysler in the late 1990s, Joe continued to come to work every day almost to the day he died in 2012. In 2013, the family sold the Winnipeg store to Auto Canada.
Andy Rewucki opened the second Rewucki-owned Chrysler dealership — independent of Eastern Chrysler — in Selkirk in 1996.
At the time, the auto dealer was the only business in that area on the west side of Selkirk. Now, Selkirk Chrysler includes the town’s Ford and GM stores among its neighbours.
“After more than 40 years in the auto business, my dad was ready to retire” says Andrew Rewucki Jr., who is staying on as sales manager.
“I am looking forward to working with Jeff (Novakoski) and promoting further growth.”
The new ownership has many years of experience in auto sales. Isfeld has been in the business for more than 50 years. He opened Gimli Ford in the 1960s. He was the founder of Derrick Dodge — which he sold just last year — in Edmonton. And he operates a couple of dealerships in B.C. where he now lives.
Novakoski started out as an auto broker in the mid-1990s. He and Isfeld met through the auto auction houses and went into partnership in 2008 when they opened Autowest on McPhillips. In 2013, they acquired a Nissan franchise for north Winnipeg and converted Autowest into McPhillips Nissan.
“With Nissan, we have been very successful,” Novakoski says. “Our store has been named the top Dealer Rater Nissan store in Winnipeg for two years in a row. We have also led Manitoba Nissan dealers in Titan, Frontier and Sentra sales for the last two years.
“We are looking forward to bringing the same level of success to Selkirk Chrysler.”
Novakoski credits McPhillips Nissan’s success to workplace stability — he reports there have been very few staff changes in the last four years — and treating people the way he would like to be treated.
(A major contributor to McPhillips Nissan’s strong sales results, Novakoski notes, has been star sales rep Tony Gonzaga, who sold 230 vehicles last year, the second highest number for Nissan sales reps in Western Canada.)
Novakoski reports he and Isfeld are not planning any staffing changes at Selkirk Chrysler.
“Over the next few years,” he says, “we will be expanding the store. We are looking forward to increasing both sales and service.”
He notes that the new ownership has already started creating change with an upgrade to the drive thru which involves making it compatible with the new Chrysler Image program.
“We will be tackling the showroom next and then the service area,” he says.
New Frontier Subaru GM
As is usual when a dealership gets a new general manager, the new guy brings along with him some of the guys who worked for him at his last port of call. Thus Kirk Cancilla, Frontier Subaru’s new general manager (as of February), is putting his stamp on the dealership sales team.
Three months ago, he brought aboard Jack Zheng as the dealership’s new sales manager. At the beginning of May, Cancilla added Patrick Van Straten and Ryndal Lantano to his team of sales reps. All three previously served with Cancilla at his last store. Also new on the sales floor is Ricky Zhang and veteran sales rep Bruce Broughton. The holdover sales reps are Antonio Tralic, David Huynh and Yuhito Adachi.
Behind the scenes, Brad Coates joined the staff in mid-March in the finance office. Coates has been working in the auto industry in sales and at the management level for 17 years.
This is his first time as a finance manager.
“It was time for a change,” he says. “And this was a good opportunity.”
Sales Rep: Patrick Van Straten
Dealership: Frontier Subaru
No. of Years: One month
Favourite Model: SUBARU WRX STI
Why: “I like the WRX STI’s drive and handling ,” Van Straten says. “It’s a fun car to drive.”