Winnipeg Free Press

Giving back to the community

by Myron LoveAuto Details . Dec 14 2018
LexusThe new Lexus UX is expected to arrive in Winnipeg in late December or early January.


The new Lexus UX is expected to arrive in Winnipeg in late December or early January.

The Vickar Automotive Group presented a cheque for $23,150 to the Canadian Cancer Society on Dec. 4 in support of the Canadian Cancer Society Drive Pink initiative in October as part of the fight against breast cancer.

The funds were raised from donations from the sale of each vehicle in October at all of the group’s dealerships, which include Vickar Community Chevrolet, Vickar Ford, Vickar Nissan, Vickar Mitsubishi, Waverley Mitsubishi and Vickar Pre-Owned Super Centre.

Winnipeg Hyundai unveils newly updated home

After eight months under wraps, so to speak, the new-look Winnipeg Hyundai is open for business.

The once dowdy looking facility on Portage Avenue now has a glamorous exterior — in line with Hyundai Canada’s new global image — along with a new, bronze signature central entrance (the entrances used to be on the sides).

Inside, you are greeted by a friendly receptionist at a central desk facing the door.

“Our place is nicer and brighter now,” general manager Ralph Wasserberg says. “We have LED lighting inside and a good, clean look.”

Winnipeg Hyundai president Chris Dyck points to the lower ceiling, interactive iPad beside every car in the showroom, as well as to the larger customer lounge with a big-screen TV.

“Our expansion was completed by mid-November and we are ready to roll,” Dyck says.

“We also have a new quick lube service,” he adds.

“We are expecting 2019 to be a banner year for sales.”

Birchwood Lexus introduces new ES, UX models for 2019

The day started out blustery on Nov. 28 and got much worse as the day wore on. The inclement weather, however, failed to deter close to 200 people from attending a coming-out party at Birchwood Lexus for the new 2019 Lexus ES luxury sedan and the all-new subcompact hybrid SUV UX.

“It turned out to be a really good evening,” Birchwood Lexus general sales manager Darryl Tuck says. “Everyone was very impressed with the new styling and fit and finish of our new models.”

He reports the UX on display was a one-off that was just in Winnipeg for the day.

“We are expecting to begin receiving some UX models late this month or early in January,” he reports. “We have some 2019 ES models in stock. We are also taking pre-orders.”

In addition to the new models, Tuck notes, Birchwood Lexus also has new sales staff. Devin Walker and Aaron Ledohowski are the new sales managers. Ledohowski joined the Birchwood Group five years ago and has been part of the Birchwood Lexus team for about a year.

Walker assumed his new role Nov. 1. Tuck notes that Walker has returned to the Birchwood Group after a year’s absence.

Tuck also notes four new sales consultants have been added in recent weeks. They include O’Neil Reece, Wesna Ghafuri, Regan Waugh (from England) and Jiahui Li. They bring Birchwood Lexus’s sales complement to seven, including veteran sales consultants Tom Strange, Ross Enokson and Young Zhou.

Murray Chevrolet reopens second-floor restaurant

Last February, the staff at Murray Chevrolet bid a fond farewell to Kenny Anurak, who had been a fixture at the dealership seemingly forever. The man behind Mack’s Café on the second floor of the dealership had decided to retire and return to his native Laos to be with his second wife (his first wife, Mack, after whom Mack’s Café is named, passed away).

Now, after a nine-month time out for renovations and an expansion of the kitchen, the renamed Mack’s Lunch Box has reopened under the management of Kenny’s daughter, Katherine. The official ribbon-cutting took place last Friday.

“We have a broader menu with healthier options,” Katherine Anurak says.

The restaurant is open to the public.

Murray Chevrolet at the Waverley Auto Mall also has two sales managers in Hussein Al-Naji and William Luchuk, both of whom have previously worked for luxury European import dealers, and a new parts manager in Sheldon Balcaen.

Balcaen was recently promoted after working in the parts department for the past three years.

Industry veteran new Hyundai Auto Canada district sales manager

Tim Penner is the new district sales manager for Manitoba and Saskatchewan for Hyundai Auto Canada Corporation. Penner has been in auto sales and management positions in Winnipeg for the past 20 years.

“I am happy to be part of Hyundai’s western zone team and part of a growing and exciting brand,” he says.

He was appointed to the newly created position at the beginning of November.

New GM at Alfa Romeo/Maserati of Winnipeg

Alfa Romeo and Maserati of Winnipeg’s newly-appointed general manager (as of Nov. 1) comes with an inspiring back story. Sam Melquist has overcome long odds to get to the point he is now at.

When he was still a teenager, Melquist’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. The single mother of five was given just six months to live and promptly lost her job. Fortunately, she was able to recover completely and turn her life around.

Nonetheless, Melquist, who is also a motivational speaker, knows what it is like to be poor and underestimated as a result. He had to go to work at 13, while still going to school, to help support the family. He spent his teenage years working part time at Canadian Tire. In his early adult years, he worked as a professional wrestler.

And his entry into auto sales was somewhat unconventional. In 2002, Jim Gauthier Chevrolet tried something new. The North Winnipeg dealership put out an ad for sales reps — no experience required. Gauthier Chevrolet offered to train the successful applicants in sales before putting them on the sales floor.

“I applied, along with about 200 other applicants,” Melquist recalls.

“I made the short list and sold my first car on my first day on the sales floor. Throughout my sales career, I was always among the top-selling sales reps.”

He has been in management positions, for the most part, since 2007, initially with Mcdougall Auto/Car World.

Melquist is also a director of Canada Wide Auto Loans and is the head coach of the Shamrocks Lacrosse team.

“I coach hockey, too,” he says. “I strongly believe in giving back to the community. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support that I received from my community when I and my family were in need.”

Melquist’s opportunity at Alfa Romeo-Maserati of Winnipeg came about as a result of Brendan Morris, his predecessor, assuming his new position as general manager for the Morris Group of Companies two dealerships in Kenora — Kenora Chevrolet Buick GMC (formerly Kantola Motors), which the Morris Group acquired in 2016, and Kenora Honda which became part of the Morris Group earlier this year.

Supplied The Vickar Automotive Group presents a cheque to the Canadian Cancer Society for $23,150.


The Vickar Automotive Group presents a cheque to the Canadian Cancer Society for $23,150.