By Myron Love
WINNIPEG, MAN. – The Manitoba Motor Dealers’ Association’s (MMDA) annual Gala Banquet on Friday, June 11, at the Canad Inns Polo Park turned into a “love fest” as the members feted Shirley Canty, who was attending her last banquet. As reported a couple of months ago in Canadian AutoWorld, Canty is retiring on July 21 - 29 years to the day since she joined the MMDA front office as executive assistant.
She has served as executive director for the past 19 years.
“Shirley has been one of the best in the business and is very well-respected across Canada,” said John Carey (Focus Hyundai), the outgoing MMDA president. “She is a big part of the reason I joined the MMDA board.
Canty brought to the job enthusiasm and a sense of honour, superior organizational ability and a strong sense of fiscal responsibility, he added.
In a video of her career at MMDA, Ike Vickar, (the retired founder and former president of Pembina Chrysler Dodge) who was part of the selection committee that hired her, noted that she was the first woman ever hired for the position of Executive Director of MMDA.
In her parting remarks, Canty recognized and praised all those who she has worked with over the years in the MMDA, the Canadian Auto Dealers Association (and long time CADA President Rick Gauthier who was in the audience), MPI, the media, and most of all her family.
“I always appreciated the support I received for even some of my off-kilter ideas,” she said. “And they usually worked out.”
She encouraged her membership to give her successor, Geoff Sine, the same level of support that she has enjoyed and cautioned against expecting Sine to be a clone of “the dearly departed” Shirley Canty.
The other order of business was the formal installation of Neil Metcalfe as the new MMDA president. Metcalfe is the dealer principal of Metcalfe’s Garage Ltd. in Treherne, Manitoba.
The new president presides over what is most likely the oldest Ford dealership in Manitoba and undoubtedly one of the oldest in Canada.
The business was opened by Neil Metcalfe’s great great grandfather in 1900 selling farm implements and horse and carriages.
“Although we didn’t become an official Ford dealer until 1925, we were selling Model T’s well before that,” Metcalfe says.
Metcalfe joined the family business full time in 1997. He reports that Metcalfe Garage has 15 employees and sells about 200 vehicles a year.
He joined the MMDA board in 2008 and is looking forward to the challenges ahead.