Motor Dealers’ Association of Alberta (MDA) Announces the 2019 Alberta Dealer of Excellence Winners:
Wayne Gallant & Andrew Robinson Named Alberta Dealers of Excellence
The MDA extends congratulations from dealers across the province to our 2019 Alberta Dealer of Excellence award winners, Wayne Gallant, Northside Lethbridge Dodge in Lethbridge, and Andrew Robinson, Precision Hyundai in Calgary.
Both Gallant and Robinson have spent their entire careers in the automotive industry, are graduates of Georgian College’s Automotive Marketing program and learned the ropes in other dealerships before taking the helm of their now award-winning businesses. Most importantly, they share a firm belief that it is their ability to build strong and loyal teams who focus on providing exceptional customer experiences that is the essential ingredient to their success.
Gallant was general manager of a large dealership in Calgary when an opportunity to return to his hometown and realize his dream of owning a dealership materialized. In 2007, Gallant purchased and rebranded the dealership as Northside Lethbridge Dodge and has since grown the operation from 18 to 74 employees and one of the highest volume dealerships in southern Alberta. Listing “commitment, imagination and tenacity” as keys to a successful automotive career, Gallant is quick to credit his team for the dealership’s tremendous results. “I attribute our growth and wonderful energy to the many remarkable people who give their time and skill to continuously improving all aspects of our dealership.”
Andrew Robinson’s father, John, founded Precision Hyundai in 1983—the first Hyundai dealership in Western Canada. His plan was to go to work for his father after graduating from college. His father had other ideas. “He told me that I needed to find out for myself if I’m cut out for the car business and to find a job on my own,” recalls Robinson. He accepted the challenge and built a successful career selling new and used vehicles over the next six years before joining his father at Precision Hyundai in 1999. He started out in used vehicle sales and progressed through management roles until becoming a partner in the dealership in 2008. Over the years, Precision Hyundai experienced tremendous growth, moved to a larger facility at Calgary’s auto mall and underwent a complete modernization. What didn’t change was the dealership’s exceptional customer service track record, resulting in many manufacturer top dealer awards and earning Hyundai’s “Signature Certified Dealer” status since the program was introduced in 2014.
The MDA awards the Dealer of Excellence annually to one metro dealer from Calgary or Edmonton and one non-metro dealer from the rest of the province. The award criteria are business acumen, community involvement and association/industry involvement. The award candidates are nominated by their peers and the applications are examined by a panel of past award recipients who select the winners. “Winning the MDA Dealer of Excellence award is a dream for me,” says Gallant. Robinson concurs, adding, “Knowing that the nomination and selection came from my industry peers makes this recognition all the more meaningful.”
“Wayne and Andrew have achieved success by demonstrating exceptional commitment to their customers, staff, industry and communities in which they do business. They are fine examples of the many excellent auto dealers we are fortunate to have as members,” says Denis Ducharme, MDA president.
2019 Alberta Dealer of Excellence (Non-Metro):
Northside Lethbridge Dodge
From his first job as a “soapy” washing cars and mowing lawns at a dealership in his hometown of Lethbridge, Wayne Gallant spent his entire career in the automotive industry. Educated in both the technical (automotive service) and business aspects of dealerships (earning an automotive business diploma from Georgian College), Gallant progressed through various roles to the top position of general manager of Varsity Chrysler in Calgary. Varsity’s founder and Gallant’s mentor, Gordon Moors advised: “There is no person that stands in the way of your success but you.” When the opportunity to purchase Mountview Dodge in Lethbridge presented itself in 2007, Gallant heeded Moor’s advice and embraced the challenge of turning his dream of owning his own dealership into a reality.
Gallant rebranded the dealership as Northside Lethbridge Dodge and since 2007 grew the operation from 18 to 74 employees, becoming one of the highest volume dealerships in southern Alberta. In 2016, the dealership received the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Spirit Award in recognition of its efforts to promote the community through time, talent and volunteer engagement. In 2017, the dealership won the chamber’s Excellence in Customer Service Award, which was especially meaningful to Gallant as the nomination and votes were cast by the public. This positive public opinion is reflected in Lethbridge Dodge’s over 900 online customer reviews (Google, Facebook, DealerRater), with an average 4.7 out of 5-star rating.
Listing “commitment, imagination and tenacity” as keys to a successful automotive career, Gallant is quick to credit his team for the dealership’s tremendous results. “I attribute our growth and wonderful energy to the many remarkable people who give their time and skill to continuously improving all aspects of our dealership. I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who share a common pride in what we do,” he says. A great source of pride for Gallant is that one of those people is his son, Russell, who originally took a two-week holiday from his job in Calgary to come “help Dad out” soon after the dealership was purchased and never left, eventually taking on his current role as general manager.
Investing in the staff’s education, empowering them to exceed customer expectations and resolve problems and supporting causes and organizations important to them have cultivated a high-performing and loyal team, says Gallant. “Our employees are focused on our customers and the success of Lethbridge Dodge. Our team-based atmosphere has minimized turnover and contributed to the longevity of our staff,” he says, adding that employee tenure is double the industry average, quadruple in the case of sales positions.
Gallant’s commitment to education and his community extends well beyond his own staff. Since he became the owner in 2007, Northside Lethbridge Dodge has donated over $1 million to various charities, sport groups and non-profit organizations. “Giving back where we live and work is important so we can help the community that has been so supportive of our team,” Gallant explains. In 2017, to support the pursuit of education and honour Gallant’s late mother-in-law, Northside Lethbridge Dodge established the Rita Simons Memorial Scholarship with a $100,000 commitment. The program awards eight $2500 scholarships annually to Lethbridge College students—five in the trades and automotive systems programs and three to students enrolled in any program who are First Nations, Metis, or Inuit, mature students, or single-custodial parents.
Having served on the board of the Lethbridge Motor Dealers Association since he purchased the dealership, Gallant believes he has benefited greatly from his involvement. “This is a wonderful forum to collaborate with other leaders in our industry.We each have individual perspectives and experience, that, when combined, result in positive and innovative development within our industry and communities,” he explains. Gallant has also served as board chair of WD Co-Auto Ltd., a dealer-owned cooperative buying group.
Winning the MDA Dealer of Excellence award is “a dream for me,” says Gallant, and serves as an opportunity to reflect on the journey to success. “I hope that I am a positive role-model for others and that the story of my career path allows others to recognize that for me, success means being true to yourself and also looking out for others.”
2019 Alberta Dealer of Excellence (Metro):
Precision Hyundai, Calgary
Growing up with a father who had founded Hyundai’s first franchise in western Canada in 1983, a career in the auto industry was a natural, obvious path for Andrew Robinson. His plan was to go work at the dealership after graduating from the automotive business program at Georgian College. His father, John, had other ideas. “He told me that I needed to find out for myself if I’m cut out for the car business and to find a job on my own,” recalls Robinson. “I accepted the challenge.”
Although he had enjoyed working as a service advisor during his college work placement, he decided to pursue a career in sales. Despite having zero experience, he landed a sales position at a Suzuki dealership where he says, “Over the next two years, I learned how to sell cars from some of the best people in the car business.” Drawn by the opportunity to sell used vehicles, which had become a passion for him, Robinson took a position at a large domestic dealership. “This role was very impactful,” he says. “I was able to see how the car business works from the lens of the used car department - an ability that I would fall back on many years later.”
With six years of sales experience and a successful track record under his belt, Robinson’s father approached him about joining Precision Hyundai. Once again, it was an “earn your way” situation. In 1999, Robinson started selling used vehicles for the dealership, was promoted to used vehicle manager in 2000, general manager in 2003 and in 2008, Andrew and John Robinson became partners in the dealership. With Andrew still serving as general manager, the partnership flourishes to this day.
In 2006, Robinson graduated from the National Automobile Dealer Association’s dealer academy in Arlington, Virginia, building on his previous formal education. “This experience was above all the most important to my career as it gave me knowledge and confidence to run the dealership as a general manager,” Robinson says.
Over the years, Precision Hyundai experienced tremendous growth, moving from its original McLeod Trail location to a larger facility in Calgary’s auto mall in 2006 and undergoing a complete modernization in 2017. “I enjoy working with the team the most. It’s been very rewarding to see how individuals can grow together all with a common goal of improving and becoming more successful,” says Robinson, who’s philosophy is, “not one department or individual, myself included, is bigger than the organization.” Having an empowered, goal-driven team is what has enabled Precision to achieve its exceptional customer service results. The dealership has consistently outperformed zone and national customer service ratings and has earned Hyundai’s “Signature Certified Dealer” status since the program was introduced in 2014, reflecting their ability to exceed customer expectations across their entire retail operations.
One of the benefits of Precision Hyundai’s financial success has been its ability to give back to the community. The dealership has donated to many causes including Kids Cancer Care Foundation, Camp Kiwanis, Calgary Food Bank, Autism Calgary and the Tom Baker Cancer Clinic, to name a few.
Robinson also believes its important to give back to the industry. He has served as Chair of MDA and president of the Calgary Motor Dealers Association. Although both roles involved a significant commitment over several years, Robinson says the experiences were very rewarding both personally and professionally. “In addition to the personal relationships I developed with other dealers, I gained a better understanding of industry-affecting legislation as well as insights into the market and industry that have helped shape strategies within our own business.”
Robinson was very honoured and excited by the news he’d been named the 2019 MDA Dealer of Excellence. “Knowing that the nomination and selection came from my industry peers makes this recognition all the more meaningful,” he says.