Steinbach Dodge Chrysler, one of Manitoba’s oldest Chrysler dealers, is under new ownership. As of Dec. 1, the 80-year-old Steinbach fixture has become the newest member of the Birchwood Auto Group.
The new acquisition brings the total number of brands under the Birchwood banner in Manitoba to 19 (at 14 locations) and continues a Birchwood Auto Group effort to grow the business outside of Winnipeg (where most of the Birchwood stores are located).
The renamed Steinbach Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram had been in the same family ever since A.D. Penner founded the business in 1937. Penner was joined in business in 1961 by his son-in-law, Jim Neustaedter, who became president of the company in 1971. For the past few years, Penner’s grandson, Paul Neustaedter, has been the dealer principal.
Steve Chipman, the president of the Birchwood Auto Group, says he and his team had been in negotiations with Neustaedter for about a year.
“My understanding is that Paul wanted to pursue some community initiatives and charitable work,” Chipman said. “Paul and I are aligned in terms of our family values and involvement in community.
“Steinbach Chrysler staff (which numbers 32 full-time employees) have given us a warm reception. They are a good group of people. We are not planning any changes.”
Robert Dueck is staying on as general manager.
The deal also includes Steinbach Chrysler’s sister store, Fiat of Steinbach.
Birchwood management shuffled
There has been another round of management changes recently at Birchwood Auto Group stores.
First, Christian Goleski and Derek Witty have switched positions. Goleski, formerly the general manager at the Nissan Infiniti store, is now at Birchwood Kia West, while Derek Witty, formerly GM at the Kia store, is now heading up the Nissan Infiniti location.
“There is a really good team at Birchwood Nissan Infiniti,” Witty said. “The product is terrific. We are the top-selling Nissan store in Winnipeg. And our customer satisfaction levels are through the roof.”
Also new to Birchwood Nissan Infiniti’s management team is Frank Veert, most recently the general sales manager at Jaguar Land Rover Volvo Winnipeg.
Succeeding Veert at Jaguar Land Rover Volvo Winnipeg is Kayla Ledohowski-Becker, whose return to the store where she started her career seven years ago is a homecoming.
“I am dealing with many of the same staff and customers,” she said. “It feels like I never left.”
New to the Birchwood management team is Myles Posthumus, recently appointed as general sales manager at Birchwood Honda Centre. His original sales experience was with Honda products and, he says, it is great to be back selling Honda products.
Changes coming to MINI Winnipeg
Over at Birchwood BMW’s sister store, MINI Winnipeg, all the 2017 models have been sold and the 2018s are in.
New for 2018, says MINI Winnipeg product genius Tony Pedreira, are some signature badging on the three-door and five-door Clubman and a new package that includes navigation system, back-up camera, power windows and door locks and heated seats. A roof rail is a new option for the Clubman.
Pedreira reports that a MINI hybrid will be available in 2018. A hybrid MINI Roadster is already on the roads in Europe and is doing well, he reports.
And, he says, there will be some cosmetic changes to the dealership within the next few months. Gone will be the neon colours inside, to be replaced by a more subdued black and white colour scheme with wood accents.
As well, the red fibreglass Countryman that is climbing the wall outside is coming down.
DEALER OF THE WEEK
Sales Rep: Warren Davies
Dealership: Murray Hyundai
No. of Years: 18 months
Favourite Model: Hyundai Tucson
Why: “The Tucson is a really versatile, user-friendly SUV ,” Davies says. “It has a stylish, contemporary design and appeals to all age groups.”