April 1, 2024

Totem Auto Group team members participated in a $5,000 donation to the Terrace Church’s Food Bank

TERRACE – The Totem Auto Group (TAG) and Terrace Totem Ford celebrated 50 years of excellence in business in Northwest B.C. last year, and TAG General Manager Shane de Jong knows why: Their commitment to customer service.

Shane and partner Mitch Shinde are Dealer Principals of Terrace Totem Ford, Thornhill Subaru and Snow Valley Ford, and together they have over 55 years’ experience in the automotive business. The main office for the TAG group, which includes seven auto-related businesses, is inside Terrace Totem Ford.

“We are an organization that prides ourselves on having excellent customer service in all areas,” says Shane. “We are also extremely proud to have as many long-term staff members as we do – with some employees having worked for us for over four decades. We would not be the businesses we are today without the loyalty and dedication of our amazing staff – Excellence in business doesn’t happen without them.”

A 1999 Totem Ford ad, signed by employees

TAG is very heavily involved in the community, from sponsoring multiple sports teams and tournaments, to donating everything from money to vehicle rentals for local events, schools, and charities. Annually, TAG donates to the local food bank on behalf of all customers who did business with them that year.

“Being a pillar of support in our community is so important to us, as we believe it has a direct effect on maintaining the relevance and the success of all our businesses,” Shane notes.

Terrace Totem Ford has been a family owned and operated Ford dealership since 1973 when Bill de Jong, along with three minority partners, brought the Ford brand back to Terrace for the first time since Bob Parker Ford closed. The team operated the dealership until 1989 when Bill decided to retire. The minority partners, Brian Kennedy, Richard Shinde and Jake de Jong, bought Bill’s shares and operated the dealership as equal partners until Dick’s retirement in 1998.

In and around the mid-90s, the partners began to bring their sons Shane and Mitch into the organization with an eye toward the boys succeeding their fathers.  “By 2003, all three dads had retired and we started to put our stamp on the business,” Shane recalls. “Hertz Rent-A-Car, formally operated as AVIS, became a part of TAG around this time. We welcomed the Quick Lane, originally Fast Lane, franchise into the group in 2000. We opened a branch location in Prince Rupert, known as Port City Ford in 2005, and in 2012 we acquired Snow Valley Ford in Kitimat from the Opheim and Schrier families. Port City Ford closed down in 2016.”

Totem Auto Group celebrated 50 years in business in 2023

Snow Valley Ford is their only Kitimat based business, and it was originally a Bob Parker store until 1978 when Art Opheim took over as Dealer Principal, and his son Brad and partner Ed Schrier sold it to Shane and Mitch in 2012.  Brad still looks after their fleet department.

Thornhill Subaru was started by Leo and Frieda de Jong in 1981. Their sons, Brent and Mark, Shane’s cousins, took over from their parents in 1999, and Thornhill Subaru joined TAG as the final dealership in 2014. Both Brent and Mark are still valuable members of TAG, with Mark maintaining Thornhill Subaru as General Manager, and Brent moving to Totem Ford where he is General Sales Manager.

Norm’s Auto Refinishing was started in 1973 by Norm Mantel in New Remo, just west of Terrace, and moved to Terrace in 1986. It became part of TAG in 1994. Bravo Cleaning Services came under the TAG banner in 2014, and is an instrumental piece as they provide the dealerships with exceptional care and detailing services.

“Our sales, and service shops are a huge part of what makes us successful,” says Shane. “From our sales associates, Ford technicians and service advisors, to our management team, it always goes back to the people who work for us, that make our products and services so popular. When you have the staff with the right mindset, work ethic, and customer service skills, any business can become a success.


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