Published On: Tuesday, 22 May 2018
New Ownership Group Re-Energizing Nanaimo Chrysler
By David Holmes
NANAIMO – One of Nanaimo’s leading car dealerships just got even better. Beginning a process that began last September, a new ownership group has taken over operations at Nanaimo Chrysler Ltd., the latest chapter in a successful automotive story that can be traced back more than four decades.
“Our new management team brings with it updated technologies and processes that help to streamline the automotive buying process, to the point where you can literally buy your vehicle over the web and have it dropped off at your doorstep. Recent changes to the dealership’s website not only bring full transparency to vehicle pricing but also real time payment quotes and trade quotes, all with the click of a button,” explained James Crockett, the dealerships General Sales Manager.
Crockett’s has led his sales team and the dealership as a whole to see sales volume nearly triple since the change in ownership, which came into full effect January 1. Nanaimo Chrysler has been a central part of the Nanaimo automotive industry since 1978, most recently under the direction of Brian Neal who had owned and operated the dealership founded by his father.
Today’s Nanaimo Chrysler is owned by a group of five partners, including the previous owner’s children, Jason and Leslie Neal, continuing the operation’s long legacy of excellence. Other principals of the company include Mike Harris, Tony Harris and Craig Sabourin who is the firm’s dealer principal. Sabourin will oversee the daily functioning of the operation and comes to the position with an extensive background in dealership operations behind him. In addition to working at Nanaimo Chrysler, Sabourin will also continue to serve as the managing partner of the companion Harris Victoria Chrysler.
“Nanaimo Chrysler also includes the Fiat dealership next door, offering the auto buying public a full range of exciting options,” Saboruin explained.
“We were very happy to see most of our long time staff decide to stay with us during the transition. Their involvement and professionalism has always been a huge part of this dealership’s success. We’ve seen some immediate gains in all aspects of the business since the acquisition which makes all of us pretty happy as we move forward.”
Located on a nearly five acre parcel at 4170 Wellington Road, Nanaimo Chrysler has a staff count of about 50 employees and features a sales department offering both new and used vehicles. The operation has 11 service bays, maintains a full body shop and operates a large parts department to supply the in-house service department. With its expansive and convenient highway frontage Nanaimo Chrysler has the space to showcase more than 250 vehicles at any one time. Sales volume at the dealership will typically tip the scales at 85 - 95 vehicles per month.
“We have been so fortunate that our customers in the past few months have enjoyed their experience and time at the new dealership that they are constantly bringing in friends, family and coworkers who may be in the market. We are really lucky to be a part of such a vibrant community,” Sales Manager Crockett explained.
Crockett has taken a unique approach to growing the dealership’s sales volume, focusing on low profit margins to generate high sales volumes. By constantly monitoring vehicle pricing to ensure he is offering the lowest on the island he has been able to attract both out of town buyers as well as satisfy his local customers, to help drive up record sales volumes. His plan has proven both innovative and successful.
The sales department at Nanaimo Chrysler isn’t the only division to see a rapid increase in business in recent months. The already active service department has added four additional service technicians just to keep up with the work flow, sure signs of a successful business model in action.
“I have been here over 20 years from Technician to Service Manager, and I’m amazed at the immediate growth and have to credit our service staff for embracing the extra work with open arms” explained Tim Barkhouse, Nanaimo Chrysler’s Service Manager.
An iconic auto dealership for more than four decades, the re-energized Nanaimo Chrysler has the experience, the knowledge, the staff and the product to become a regional industry leader. For Sabourin the sky’s the limit when it comes to the impact and potential of the operation as it begins the latest chapter in its long and successful story.
“Any success we have is a credit to our exceptional staff. The way I run my business is I view the staff as the front line and without them I don’t have a business. This dealership has succeeded in large part because of them and that’s part of the story that isn’t going to change,” he said.