There has been further consolidation among northern Manitoba auto dealers. On April 1, the Haukass family, the Chrysler dealer (Twin Motors) in The Pas, acquired McKay Chevrolet Buick GMC in Thompson, renaming the store Twin Motors. The Haukass Family also operates dealerships in Flin Flon and Dauphin.
On May 1, Dale Bigelow, the dealer principal at Northland Ford Sales Ltd., in The Pas, added to his growing auto group (including Northland Ford Sales in Flin Flon) with the acquisition of the Murray Auto Group’s GM store in town, Murray Motors.
“We just felt that it was better for the community to have local ownership for the store,” says Doug Murray, the Brandon-based CEO of the Murray Auto Group.
“We always felt a little like outsiders. This should also result in better economies of scale.”
The Murray Group had acquired the long established Carroll Motors in 2000.
Dale Bigelow had worked for Carroll Motors in a variety of roles for 16 years before being awarded the Ford franchise in 1993.
“They were looking to sell and we felt it would be a good fit for us,” Bigelow says. “It has been an easy transition.”
The GM store measures 18,000 square feet and has 30 employees. Bigelow reports he is not planning on making any changes to the renamed Great North Chevrolet Buick GMC. Frank Lang, he notes, remains the general manager.
Bigelow notes the GM store was most recently upgraded in 2012 to conform to the new GM Image standard.
“The building is in great shape,” he says. “Nothing needs to be done to it.”
The Manitoba-based Murray Auto Group — one of Canada’s largest dealership groups — earlier this year opened a new Chrysler store in Virden. Virden Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram opened for business on Feb. 1.
The new 14,000-square-foot store has a staff of about 35 led by general manager Chris Irvine, a long-time resident of Virden who was previously managing partner at Brandon Chrysler Dodge, which is also part of the Murray group. Irvine will be managing both Chrysler stores.
The new store has an inventory of more than 200 new cars as well as used models. Virden’s previous Chrysler store closed almost seven years ago.
New management at Crown Mazda
Crown Mazda has a new management team in place — general manager Cameron Scammell and sales manager Jordan Day. Scammell originally joined the Crown Mazda team at the beginning of April as the sales manager. He brings with him 10 years of experience in auto sales — the past four in management.
“I was looking for a change and there are good opportunities for advancement within the Dilawri Auto Group (of which Crown Mazda is a component),” he said in an earlier interview. That opportunity came very quickly with an unexpected opening at the top. He was appointed general manager at the beginning of May.
Day came on board as sales manager in mid-May. He has served with the Dilawri Auto Group for close to three years, the past two as finance manager at another Dilawri store. (He has a background in accounting and finance.)
“I wanted to become a sales manager,” he says.
Scammell and Day both say they are really excited about the Mazda product line.
“Our models compare well with some of the competition’s luxury models in terms of performance and reliability,” Scammell says.
“We have a fresh, young sales team that is focused on providing customers with top quality service.”
McNaught joins family business
In the end, Meghan McNaught couldn’t resist the siren call of the family business.
“I loved teaching (at a Montessori School),” says the youngest child of Gord McNaught Sr. “But I always felt that I wanted to try auto sales. I have two brothers and a sister in the business and I wanted to give it a try.”
Naturally, as a McNaught, Meghan grew up in the business. She worked at McNaught Cadillac Buick GMC while going to school. She is also a graduate of Georgian College’s well-known automotive business management program.
“I enjoyed college,” she says. “Most of my fellow students had families in the auto industry. But when I graduated in 2009, the fate of General Motors was up in the air.”
Meghan McNaught finally took the plunge into auto sales last fall. After a few months of training, she officially joined the sales team in March.
“It has been going very well,” she says of her new sales career.