Stephen Vickar (left) with Vickar Ford's new general manager, Nick Guffei.
Cam MacIver and his staff have given away their final bottle of mustard.
On Jan. 1, after several months of negotiations, MacIver turned over the keys for the roughly 65-year-old Ford dealership on the corner of Main Street and Templeton Avenue (across from Kildonan Park) to the Vickar Family.
“We think there is a lot of opportunity for growth at (the renamed) Vickar Ford,” says new dealer principal Stephen Vickar.
“This is a brand new building (MacIver oversaw a major expansion and upgrade just a couple of years ago). The sales team is top notch. This store is the only medium duty Ford truck dealer in Winnipeg. We have a full line body shop and the service department has a proven track record.”
The building on the corner of Templeton and Main goes back to the 1940s when it was originally a lumber store. Then, later, Gelhorn Motors moved in. Cam MacIver’s late father, Bruce, and his Parkside Ford store took over in 1967.
The Vickar Family has also been in the auto business for more than 50 years with a proven record of success. The Vickar Auto Group also includes the flagship store Vickar Chevrolet, Vickar Nissan, Vickar Mitsubishi, Waverley Mitsubishi and Vickar (Isuzu) Trucks.
“We are bringing the Vickar touch to Vickar Ford,” Vickar says.
“Within two years of acquiring our Nissan store from the previous owner, we turned the store into the top-selling Nissan dealer in the province. We are looking to grow Vickar Ford sales the same way with a greater focus on customer satisfaction. We plan to add more service technicians and support staff to the present team of 80 employees.
“We are also going to be opening up the showroom a little more. This is a beautiful building.”
The only major personnel change that Vickar has made was the installation of Nick Guffei as Vickar Ford’s new general manager. Guffei was most recently the general manager at Vickar Nissan. He has been working with the Vickar Family for the past seven years.
There is one other major change at the store in addition to the disappearance of the mustard bottles. Vickar Ford will not be selling Lincoln models after the models currently in stock sell out.
The dealership will continue to provide warranty and service work for Lincoln customers though.
“We are really excited to be part of the Ford Family,” Stephen Vickar says. “Ford has a lot of great new products coming out soon, including new electric and hybrid models, a new SUV and a new version of the F-150 next year.”
Management changes at Vickar Nissan
Nick Guffei’s move to Vickar Ford has necessitated some management changes at Vickar Nissan. Adriano Dibiase was promoted from sales manager to general manager while sales rep Fawaz Azhar is the new sales manager.
Azhar had been a top selling sales rep at Vickar Nissan for the past five years. Last year, he reports, he sold 301 vehicles, earning him a ranking of fifth place among Nissan Canada sales reps.
“My previous experience before auto sales was in management,” Azhar says. “I have seen the ups and downs in this industry. I am looking forward to helping our newer sales reps to establish their careers.”
Dibiase has been with the Vickar Group for 14 years, with the past seven spent as the sales manager at the Nissan store.
“It’s fantastic,” he says of his new role. “It is very interesting learning a new aspect of this business.”
Chiappetta brothers continue to make mark
Brothers Pier and Frank Chiappetta are both auto industry veterans who are back in the news. Frank joined the team at Crown Mazda as general sales manager on Oct. 1.
He has been in auto sales since 1991, starting with Eastwood Chrysler Dodge Jeep, which was owned by cousin Mike Chiappetta.
“The Dilawri Group contacted me and offered me this position working with (general manager) Gerald Boiteau,” Frank Chiappetta says. “This is a great store and the Dilawri Group is a great company to work for.”
In September, Pier Chiappetta was appointed general manager at the Dilawri Group’s Winnipeg Honda store. He has been working at Winnpeg Honda for almost two years and in the industry for 26 years. Like his brother, he got his start at Eastwood Chrysler Dodge Jeep.
“It’s great working for the top-selling Honda store (new cars) on the Prairies,” he says.
Birchwood Auto Group crosses the 1,900 threshold again
The Birchwood Auto Group’s ninth annual year end sale once again easily blew pasted its target of 1,500. While the final tally for year end 2016 didn’t quite reach the 2015 record total of 1,951 new and used vehicles sold, the sales event did once again surpass 1,900 new and used vehicles sold. Congratulations to the Birchwood Auto Group’s sales teams at its 10 new car stores and three Birchwood Credit Solutions locations.
Frank Chiappetta (left) and Gerald Boiteau work together at Crown Mazda.
Myron Love / Winnipeg Free Press