Birchwood BMW wins national award of excellence

BY Myron Love. May 06 04:00 am

Birchwood BMW is the winner of BMW Canada’s Excellence in Overall Service Satisfaction Award for Western Canada. Birchwood had the highest year-over-year growth in vehicle sales and also ranked as the No. 1 volume BMW and BMW M Performance automobile dealer (non-metro) in Western Canada last year.

“We credit our record-breaking growth to our focus on delivering an outstanding customer experience,” said Craig Becker, Birchwood BMW general manager. “The BMW brand is about innovation and creating emotion, enthusiasm, fascination and thrills for the driver. We set out to bring that same emotion, thrill and enthusiasm to the Birchwood BMW experience. It goes beyond the day you buy the car. We aim to deliver an outstanding experience each time you bring the vehicle in for service, detailing or repair.

“We beat every other dealership in Western Canada to finish first in sales growth and overall service satisfaction,” he added, “we’re really proud of that.”

In 2016, the dealership has carried on from where it left off last year, once again finishing the first quarter with the top spot for year-over-year sales growth in Western Canada. According to Becker April was a banner mont. “Birchwood BMW sold 50 vehicles, a record both for the BMW brand in Winnipeg and all luxury brands in the city.”

The Birchwood Automotive Group has grown to become the largest network of automotive retailers in Manitoba. Started in 1964 and headquartered in Winnipeg, the company has more than 1,000 team members and operates 17 franchised dealerships, four Credit Solutions branches and two collision centres.

Lasting legacy

Last Friday, after almost 40 years in auto sales, Steve Dennis drove off into retirement. The longtime dealer principal (in partnership with Jim Gauthier) of Waverley Chrysler Dodge Jeep (at the Waverley Auto Mall) has chosen to leave at one of the high points of his career.

“Our store was the top-selling Chrysler dealer on the Prairies last year and finished ninth in Canada,” he says.

Dennis got his start selling motorcycles for the legendary Joe Sawtus at House of Horsepower on Main Street when he was a university student. After graduation, he was hired by Ford of Canada as a warranty clerk in the Winnipeg office. He later moved to retail sales and held a number of management positions with Ford dealers, first in Regina (Percival Mercury) and then in Winnipeg with Bob Kozminsky at Keystone Ford. For a time in the 1990s he was the dealer principal at Valley Chev Olds in Neepawa. He returned to Winnipeg in 2000 to manage Cam Clark Ford (now River City Ford). In 2005, Jim Gauthier approached him to go into partnership in the former Eastwood Chrysler store Gauthier had recently acquired.

“Having Jim ask me to join him in partnership at Waverley Chrysler was one of the highlights of my career,” says Dennis, who is also a past president of the Manitoba Motor Dealers Association (1992-93). “We have had a lot of success at Waverley Chrysler,” Dennis says. “Most of our staff have been with us for a long time and we have a lot of award winners, especially in our service department.”

He adds Chrysler has made his job easier over the past five or six years with an outstanding product lineup and aggressive marketing.

Dennis says he is looking forward to doing some travelling with his wife in retirement and enjoying summers at the lake. “This is a true retirement,” he says, “although I will still drop in at the dealership from time to time. I expect there will be customers who will still call to see me.”

Dennis’s successor as dealer principal is Mike Shrimpton, whose career in auto sales began 15 years ago. He joined the staff at Gauthier Chrysler Dodge Ram as used-car sales manager in 2010 after a couple of years out of the auto industry working as a territory manager for Versatile Tractors. Shrimpton was recruited to the Gauthier Group by Gauthier Chrysler general manager Kevin Schumacher, a longtime friend. He eventually became general sales manager at the east Winnipeg Chrysler store.

“Waverley Chrysler is a great store,” Shrimpton says. “I am very excited about this new opportuntity.”


Toews donates family boat


Chicago Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews may play for a rival NHL team but he hasn’t forgotten his hometown. A few months back, Toews and his family, who hail from Winnipeg, donated a 1935 Cossey replica boat, a runabout, says Adesa Winnipeg public sales representative Darrell Barth, to Variety, the Children’s Charity of Manitoba.

On April 26, the boat, which is made of Honduran mahogany, with leather upholstery, went up for auction at Adesa. Barth reports the boat sold for $33,500 — all of which goes toward Variety’s sold-out Come One-Come All Gala in May.

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