Success on the racetrack builds messages about performance, commitment and precision


Dave Halliday

Successful involvement in motorsports plays a key role in developing the award-winning Pfaff Automotive Partners dealership group.

“Many of Pfaff’s core values – among them working as a team, boldness, humility and accountability – have grown through the company’s long history in motorsports,” said Marilyn Mazzocchitti, Pfaff’s human resources director.

“Long a dominant strand of Pfaff’s DNA and one of the company’s key differentiators, motorsports has not only helped build Pfaff’s reputation amongst high-end, high-performance buyers, it has also helped attract high-performing, talented team members with a desire to constantly improve and win,” Mazzocchitti said.

The company was founded in 1964 and has grown over the years to include 13 dealerships throughout southern Ontario and British Columbia, along with leasing and related businesses. The dealerships sell a wide range of brands – Mazda, Toyota and others – but is largely known for its luxury business including Audi, BMW and McLaren.

Much of the growth for the group has taken place in the last 10 years.

Chris Pfaff, president and CEO of Pfaff Automotive Partners

“Pfaff’s partnership with Orlando Corp., Canada’s largest privately owned industrial real-estate developer, has been a key factor in our growth,” Mazzocchitti said.

“Our partnership with Orlando gives us the ability to acquire and develop the best real-estate assets for our business operations and enables us to build new dealerships in record time.”

The group could expand further as Mazzocchitti notes Pfaff will add stores where possible.

While many Pfaff dealerships are in the GTA, the largest metropolitan area in Canada, they still focus on local customers.

“The stores focus on selling to and servicing customers in the trade areas assigned by our manufacturer partners, though we certainly have a number of customers throughout the GTA who choose to deal with us because of our reputation for excellent service, our engagement with enthusiasts or other reasons,” she said.

“We try to make it as easy as possible for customers to do business with Pfaff by providing services such as valet service.”

But, in the end, success for the CEO Chris Pfaff and the group comes down to its people, a group of more than 1,100 entrepreneurs who are the public face of Pfaff’s culture.

“The strength of the experience they deliver is derived from Pfaff’s core values — which are not only required of all its employees, but are the foundation of all the company’s human resources practices,” Mazzocchitti said.

People are not only important to Pfaff’s current success, but also the company’s future.

Pfaff recognizes the importance of developing its next generation of leaders. There is a constant focus on attracting, developing and retaining key leaders.

“Employees identified as those with high potential gain leadership experience early on to prepare them for future roles,” Mazzocchitti said.

Every Pfaff dealership has its own general manager who reports to the group’s three vice-presidents of operation. Responsibility is divided by brand and geography.
Motorsports is an integral part of the company’s identity through the vehicles Pfaff fields in competition. The motorsports strategy extends to four specific areas. Those areas are building stronger relationships with manufacturer partners, developing strong business partnerships, serving as both a powerful marketing tool and a powerful employee engagement tool.

“Racing the products we sell demonstrates to current manufacturer partners a higher level of commitment and helps to unlock doors for future opportunities,” Mazzocchitti said. “Pfaff’s ‘all in’ approach builds additional credibility.”

Where business partnerships are concerned, “sponsorship dealers for our race cars are often tied into broader programs that benefit both Pfaff and our business partners.”

“For our business partners, the chance to entertain customers at the racetrack is a strong incentive to do business with Pfaff.”

As a marketing tool, motorsports allows Pfaff to differentiate itself from other dealers and other dealer groups.

“Our successes on the racetrack allows us to build credible messages about the level of performance, commitment and precision our customers can expect from us in our showrooms and service departments,” Mazzocchitti said.

Success on the racetrack is something that just spending more money can’t buy. It requires dedicated employees, a strong culture and a commitment to success that goes above and beyond.

Employee engagement is critical to both company success and customer satisfaction.

“A public commitment to competition attracts individuals to Pfaff who want to succeed, are committed to going the extra mile and who want to work as part of a coherent, winning team,” Mazzocchitti said.

“Our best employees will often go out of their way to be involved in the race team, putting in time and committing energy outside of their normal jobs to feed their drive to win.”