By Jackson Hayes
Tim Reuss has been a busy man.
Since taking over the top spot at Mercedes-Benz Canada in April 2011, he has crisscrossed the country several times, shovel in hand, turning over earth at more than half a dozen new points or renovation projects in the brand’s expanding retail network.
And it looks as if that blistering pace will not ease up in 2014. Dealer Gabriel Gennarelli’s new point in Pointe-aux-Trembles, Quebec is now under construction, as is the massive rebuild of top-performing corporate store, Mercedes-Benz Thornhill, just north of Toronto.
Reuss also revealed the company would break ground on two additional rooftops this year with new stores planned for Brampton, Ont., and Calgary – the city’s third Mercedes-Benz.
Those are both completed deals currently waiting for permits from the respective municipalities.
But if you ask Reuss about the money invested in dealerships across the country, he will tell you the growth has far more to do with service capacity and fixed ops than simply building luxurious showrooms for the sake of image.
“[With fixed ops] we are playing catch-up to be quite honest,” he said. “The showroom space is about future growth and we’ve achieved some tremendous growth. That’s coming from all our new products. But I need service capacity to deal with all the units I’ve already sold.”
The luxury German brand has been on a tear of late, racking up years of record sales in Canada. Last year it delivered 37,018 Mercedes-Benz and smart units; that marked an overall increase of 4.3 per cent or 1,515 units above what was already a record total from 2012.
Results have been equally hot to start 2014 with March’s 4,034 units representing its best month ever.
The performance, which Reuss wears like a badge, is not expected to slow. Dealers will welcome two huge volume products later this year with the new C-Class coming in September and the all-new GLA.
While he wouldn’t offer volume targets, logic would dictate executives expect to continue on the impressive sales pace.
Perhaps it is because of this volume that the automaker can justify the size of the Thornhill store. The 130,000-square foot dealership will sit on the same site as the original Mercedes-Benz Thornhill at 228 Steeles West. It is scheduled to be operational by May 2015.
Sales and service operations have been temporarily relocated while construction continues.
The new store will feature a new and used vehicle showroom totaling 36,000 square feet. The two-storey facility will also house a dedicated AMG Performance centre and a smart centre.
An additional 43,000 square feet has been earmarked for the service area, and will include 32 state-of-the-art work bays, six detailing bays as well as a six-vehicle drive-thru.
Reuss said continuing with the corporate store model demonstrates the automaker is willing to get some skin in the game just like its dealers.
“We are putting our money where our mouth is in terms of what needs to happen from a brand and growth perspective. We’re the first ones stepping up with our investments, which makes our relationships with the dealers that much better because they see we believe in our own story. We’re not asking them to step up with their money before we step up with ours,” he said.
He noted that the corporate store model does not extend outside Vancouver and Toronto. Any other points outside those metro areas are private and will remain so.
The automaker has actually stepped back in recent years with the sale of a corporate store in London, Ont. and one in Montreal last year.
Of additional note for dealers this year will be the integration of the new Mercedes-Benz retail corporate identity where black coupled with accents of silver will replace blue.
There are no additional architecture requirements. The colour changes will affect the pylon, exterior columns, entryways and other signs.
JoAnne Caza, director of communications and PR for Mercedes-Benz Canada said that colour integration would also be seen in the company’s advertising.