By Myron Love
WINNIPEG, MAN. – Over the past two years, five family-owned stand-alone Winnipeg dealerships – almost half of the city’s remaining such auto enterprises – have been acquired by larger auto groups.
That is not the road that Parkside Ford Lincoln is taking.
The long-standing North Winnipeg dealership is in the midst of a major upgrade that store president Cam MacIver said is a reflection of commitment to his community and confidence in the future.
“We moved into the trailers on February 7,” MacIver noted. “First came the deconstruction. Now we are into the reconstruction phase.
“Our new building, we believe, will provide our customers with an enhanced buying experience. The building will have all the up-to-date Ford fonts and colours. We will have separate Ford and Lincoln showrooms with separate entrances.”
One feature of the reconfigured dealership that will be unique is a planned new full-service restaurant in the northwest corner of the building.
(The only other dealership with an in-store restaurant here is Birchwood Keystone Ford, which has a Salisbury House outlet in the store.)
“We are thinking outside the box and thinking about our neighbourhood,” MacIver said. “We think that having a restaurant serving good quality food will offer a different kind of experience for customers who come into our store. Someone coming in for an oil change or a quick repair can have breakfast or just a coffee in the restaurant. The restaurant will have WiFi and a big screen TV.
“We may also try to get a liquor license.”
The MacIver family has played a prominent role in Winnipeg’s auto industry for many decades. MacIver’s late father, Bruce, became the dealer principal in 1967.
MacIver notes that the competition became tougher in 1986 after the Birchwood Auto Group opened its own Ford store in North Winnipeg.
In 2005, MacIver and the Chipman family reached an agreement under the terms of which the Birchwood Group sold their north end Ford store to MacIver who subsequently had it demolished.
“The Chipman family was gracious enough to allow me to purchase their Ford store,” MacIver says. “For the past 10 years, our profits have been growing and now, we have the wherewithal for this project.”
The project is expected to be completed by June 2015. MacIver is hopeful that the major work will done by mid-winter so that his staff won’t have to spend an entire second winter in the trailers and be able to move into the new building.
He also noted he was considering doing something with his used-car lot just to the north of his new car store – in possibly a phase two.
Two things that won’t change, he added, is the family-oriented customer service and, of course, the free bottles of mustard given to everyone who comes into the dealership, a practice that has long made him “Mustard Man” Cam MacIver, the guy who cuts the mustard every time.