MacIver brothers building new store, eyeing technology

BY  By Myron Love. Feb 19 04:00 am

Andrew and Doug MacIver have a storied pedigree in the auto industry. Their grandfather, Jack MacIver, was the founder of Midway Chrysler in downtown Winnipeg, and was a veteran of more than 60 years in auto sales.

Their father, Doug MacIver Sr., was successful in his own right as an auto dealer in Toronto before returning to Winnipeg in 2006 to take charge of his father’s store. When Chrysler Canada pulled the plug on Midway as part of a national reduction in the number of Chrysler stores in operation, Doug Sr. turned to used car sales.

In 2009, he founded Ride Time in partnership with his sons, Andrew and Doug Jr. The family’s first location was on Pembina Highway just east of Stafford Street. Within a short time, the MacIvers opened a second location on Regent Avenue. In 2012 they were in the process of opening a third location at 87 Oak Point Hwy., when Doug Sr. suddenly died.

“We decided after dad passed away to go through with the opening of the new location and close our Regent store,” Andrew says. “Without dad, we didn’t have enough manpower to run the three stores.” Now, Doug Jr. and Andrew are taking the next step. They are in the process of building a new 15,000 square-foot facility at the Oak Point Highway location, to be completed in late April.

The new store, Doug Jr. notes, will have room for close to 150 models (the MacIvers sell late model vehicles). The facility will have eight service bays and four detail bays. The entire property will be lit with energy efficient LED lighting and heating in the shop will come from in-floor heating technology.

The most important piece in the new building though, Andrew points out, is the state-of-the-art photography studio including the most modern rotating cameras. “With the new cameras, we will be able to speed up getting our pictures online,” Andrew says. “We are also developing a new website. Our goal is to cut by up to 65 per cent the amount of time it takes from taking delivery of a vehicle and getting it online. With our technology, we will be able to display the car from all angles.”

Andrew points out that most car buyers now shop online — but they are still more likely to buy from a dealer whose name they recognize.

The MacIver Brothers have shown themselves to be highly creative advertisers. Ride Time was the subject of a six-episode TV series on the Business News Network. The brothers also star in television commercials that are played as mini-dramas. In the most recent one, they show off their new facility — not yet built — to a skeptical customer, pointing out the different features that will be part of the new building.

Doug Jr. reports sales have been growing steadily from month to month.

“We are selling close to 100 vehicles a month. What we are seeing is that where we used to be the second or third choice for a customer looking for a new car, we are now often the first choice,” he says.

“While Winnipeg will always be the hub of our operation, we are now selling cars across Canada and into the United States, and we are getting inquiries from Europe, the Middle East and the far East. We still have a few things to work out though before we can sell overseas, but we see overseas sales as a potential area for us.”

Remembering Harry Vickar

Harry Vickar, who died Jan. 9, was one of the last of his generation of auto dealers. Vickar began his career in auto sales with his brothers in Melfort, Sask., in 1963. In 1974, the brothers sold their dealership in Melfort and moved to Winnipeg where Ed, the oldest brother, founded Community Chevrolet. Harry initially worked for Ed. In 1980, he and first cousin Ike Vickar went into partnership in two new auto stores. Harry was the dealer principal at Nairn Nissan (now Vickar Nissan) while Ike operated Pembina Dodge Chrysler (now Pembina Chrysler Dodge Jeep). Harry Vickar sold Nairn Nissan in 1999.

We extend our sympathy to Harry’s family. Donations can be made in his memory to the Winnipeg Humane Society or an animal shelter of choice.

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