Since 2005, the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) and iA Dealer Services, a leading provider of financial, consulting and training for new car and truck dealers in Canada, have partnered for the annual CADA Laureate Dealer Recognition Program.
The Laureate award, which is the highest honour bestowed upon Canadian dealers during the course of their careers, is awarded each year to only three out of Canada’s 3,200 plus new car dealers. The Laureate program is distinguished by a three-phase selection process that is administered by a third party. Each of the winning CADA Laureates is ultimately selected by the Ivey Business School at Western University.
The Ambassador category finalists embody a strong commitment to serving their communities and industry.
Frank G. Howard
- Capital Auto Group
- St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
- Brands represented: BMW, MINI, Subaru, Genesis, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai
- Years in business: 40 years in the industry
- Number of employees: 300+
In his own words I thought I was prepared for the call, and the acceptance, but man, I got the cold shivers. It was fantastic. My inspiration to do this work came from my mother. She always said that if you give, you’ll always get that tenfold back. Our business has been so successful for myself and my family, so we just started giving. It started in the early years, when we began a program where we contributed $25 to the community for every car we sold, and we got up to selling 4,600 cars a year. It’s something that we do, and just love doing it. We’re not looking for any awards from it. Without the community we would be nothing in the car business. They support us, and I think that’s the way every dealer feels. We wouldn’t be successful if it wasn’t for the community. So it’s great to give back.
Judge’s comments Of the five finalists, Frank Howard of Capital Auto Group in Newfoundland and Labrador is exceptional. Frank has led provincial and national dealer associations, advises and works with the provincial government, and actively supports education – essential to develop tomorrow’s business leaders. Frank played a critical role in protecting the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. He worked with CADA, ADNAL, and the Department of Transportation to provide safe transportation for the community. In addition, he developed and implemented programs to raise tens of thousands of dollars for food banks to provide for those who need it most. Frank’s social and environmental leadership is also exemplary, from making multiple business changes to reduce waste and protect the environment, to developing an electric vehicle education program for customers and the general public. — (Kirk Kristofferson, Ivey Business School)
Sponsor comments To be recognized as an Ambassador Laureate, a dealer must go above and beyond in service to the community and the industry, and that’s Frank Howard in a nutshell. Early in his career, Frank learned that helping others gave him his greatest satisfaction. Since then, he has really committed to supporting healthcare and wellness, especially for children. Frank has served on the dealer councils of multiple manufacturers, and served multiple terms on federal and provincial association boards. He’s also had every GM in his group complete the Automotive Business School of Canada’s executive management program. Frank is a true ambassador for the industry. — (François Blais)
The Business Innovation award is for exceptional leaders who have built long-term success by focusing on employee growth and development, and listening to and meeting the needs of customers.
- Destination Auto Group
- Burnaby, British Columbia
- Brands represented: Toyota, Honda, Mazda
- Years in business: 10 years
- Number of employees: 365
In his own words I was very surprised and humbled when I got the call. My dad actually won the Laureate Award for Innovation three years ago, so this is a very meaningful validation of our vision and our approach. And I’m very honored to be recognized as a contributor to advancing innovation in our industry. A lot of the innovative work that I’ve done has been more on the entrepreneurship side of the company, processes, procedures, HR, looking ahead, what’s coming down the pipe. In my dad’s time it was more around buildings and external facing-type things. So we innovated, I think, in very different ways. I share this distinguished accolade with all our associates at Destination Auto Group, our friends at Toyota, Honda and Mazda, and our business partners. I am also deeply grateful to my family for their trust and mentorship, and my wife for her relentless encouragement and support.
Judge’s comments Among the five CADA Laureate finalists, the innovations of Adil Ahamed at Destination Auto Group in British Columbia stand out. Novel tools that enable data-driven decision-making include financial planning and analysis that models in real-time how various teams are performing relative to budget. This critical tool for senior leadership measures performance and helps identify issues as they arise, and is managed by a Chief Information Officer. Innovations in information technology have greatly reduced the group’s average issue resolution time, which enables staff to focus on business growth. It should also be noted that Destination Auto Group’s commitment to its employees’ training and development is exceptional. — (Kirk Kristofferson, Ivey Business School)
Sponsor comments Adil carries on a commitment to innovation at the Destination Auto Group that began with his father Aziz, who is also an Innovation Laureate. When Adil took the helm, he committed to outside-the-box thinking, knowing that innovation can be a difference-maker in an industry that is changing quickly. At the core of Adil’s strategy are three key areas: creating the right structure for leadership and continuity, focusing on data to drive better decision-making and sustainability, and inspiring a high-performance culture. The results include impressive business growth, and real successes in employee retention and gender balance – challenging issues for all dealers. — (Alnoor Jiwani)
The retail operations of the Retail Operations Laureate winner are very impressive and are truly the gold standard for fellow dealers to aspire to.
- Otto’s Subaru
- Ottawa, Ontario
- Brands represented: Subaru, BMW, Otto’s Collision
- Years in business: 24 years (as a dealer principal)
- Number of employees: 190
In her own words I was so surprised when I found out, and that turned into being overjoyed, and then just deeply honored and really, really proud of our team. Our basic business philosophy is something that I was taught from my parents, who built this business from the ground up. They had this beautiful philosophy of ‘first and foremost, take care of the people you work with. And when you take good care of them and you care about them, they will help you take good care of your clients. And then from there, we can do good things for our community’. I think it’s the most sustainable business model, because if people are part of the solution, and you let them take ownership of that, and you respect their individual needs, they will do that for customers, who will keep coming back.
Judge’s comments Sonia Koller’s Otto’s Subaru in Ontario is exceptional, delivering impressive performance and consistency across all retail operations categories for many years. Koller’s operations are either at or near the top for the Subaru brand in Canada across multiple measures, including vehicle, parts and service sales, profitability, and customer satisfaction. Otto’s began as an independent shop built on customer service, and this legacy is reflected to this day in its customer satisfaction performance. The attention to and celebration of staff accomplishments and advancement also stands out. Otto’s Subaru has industry-leading employee retention, and has worked as a family in community service and support of its employees. Under Sonia Koller’s leadership, Otto’s Subaru has implemented sophisticated technology and systems processes across the organization. — (Kirk Kristofferson, Ivey Business School)
Sponsor comments When Sonia and her mother took over the business after the passing of Sonia’s father Otto in 1998, some people doubted they would succeed. Almost 25 years later, Otto’s Subaru has been the top volume Subaru dealer in Canada for sales, service, and parts for the past seven years. It’s a tremendous success story. Sonia also has a long track record of championing female empowerment, allowing young women and girls to believe they can have a future in the automotive industry. She has fostered an incredible team that is committed to being the best, and the numbers show that Sonia’s strategies are very successful. — (Gwen Gareau)