Ford store renovates, adds independent body shop


MONTREAL, QUE. – As the finishing touches are added to their dealership expansion, brothers Peter and Philip McLean of Circuit Ford Lincoln are looking forward to putting a long period of construction projects behind them.

The pair has not only endured an expansion of their North Montreal dealership’s showroom and office space, but in mid-April, they cut the ribbon on an external independent body shop called Carrosserie A25.

“It’s been a lot of work,” Peter said the day after the body shop’s grand opening soiree. “We are just happy to be able to get back to business as usual.”

Circuit Ford Lincoln has been in business for 40 years. The McLean brothers bought the store in December 2006. Peter said when talk of renovations started it became a challenge to fit all the store’s elements together.

“It was like a puzzle and the body shop just wasn’t fitting. My brother was driving home one night and saw a vacant property for sale a few lots down from the dealership so we bought the property and built the body shop,” he said.

Once the body shop staff was in the new location, they moved the dealership staff into the old body shop area and tore down the showroom and a 1,500 square-foot used-car office on site.

Carrosserie A25 is named after the nearby highway and is branded as an independent shop. It is 11,000 square feet and can accommodate commercial work from the likes of Bell, Canada Post and Videotron – an issue at the old shop as the ceiling height couldn’t accommodate some of the outfitted commercial vehicles.

There are 16 bays and a current staff of 10.

Despite this shop being an extension of their business, Peter said they didn’t brand it Ford Canada because they also handle insurance work meaning all makes and models.

“Last week we had two Mercedes, a BMW and an Audi. When the insurance company sends a customer like that, it can be confusing that they are sent to an off-make shop.”

Now with the shop officially up and running, Peter said renovations at the Ford store are nearly wrapped. They added a mezzanine level and a two-door service drive-thru along with the bumped out showroom.

Important to both owners was keeping a keen eye on costs.

“Two stores I know that had just renovated spent $10 or $12 million each. It’s kind of crazy. We are spending probably a little more than a third of that,” Peter said.

“We didn’t hold back with design, but we didn’t make decisions that wouldn’t help us sell more cars. Ford is doing well, but the market is cyclical and you have to plan for the long term. You can provide a positive impact for customers in the marketplace without busting the bank.”

He said one of his most prudent decisions came with analyzing the little things.

It is easy to say what is $10,000 when you are spending millions, he said, but if you add those all up, costs can get out of control quickly.

The dealership, which earned its sixth Ford President’s Diamond Club award this year, should be ready for business by the end of May.