Following his father and grandfather in the family business, Norman John Hébert knows he has a lot to live up to as head of the Groupe Park Avenue dealership group in Quebec.
Earlier this month, he was announced as President/Chief Operating Officer, succeeding his father, Norman E., who had been with the company for 40 years, appointed as President in 1991. The company was founded by his father Norman D. Hébert in 1959.
“We’ve been working on the succession concept for probably the last 20 years through family councils, outside mentoring and coaching and then through my work I’ve done in the business the last 10 years,” said the 35-year-old Hébert said in an interview with Canadian auto dealer.
Earlier this month, the third-generation Hébert worked as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. His grandfather started the business buying a Chevrolet dealership in financial difficulty and built up the company. He also started the first Montreal Auto Show. Norman E. expanded the business with multi brands, pivoted into the luxury market and became heavily involved in supporting various community causes.
Norman John said he takes over the company with a “ton of pride and a ton of respect” for what his grandfather and father did. The company has 18 dealerships representing 15 brands and a collision repair shop.
“We’re a company that’s in terrific health, we have an unbelievable team, we represent unbelievable brands, so (I’m) starting from a position of strength, which is great,” said Hébert. “Part of my role is about remaining true to our baseline direction. I read a quote the other day, which I really love, and do things perfectly but find less things to perfect. If I had to summarize my message to our team at the beginning of this year it was kind of that. Let’s make sure we’re perfect and we nail our plan and remain focused.”
He is focused on three themes: (1) Supporting the manufacturers in whatever sales models they are considering; (2) Electrification, including spending north of $30 million on renovating six stores, including one that will be part of Volvo’s new retail image experience and which will include a carport with solar panels to charge inventory. (3) Complying with dealership rules and maintaining its company reputation.
“There’s been a lot of changes in regulations, whether it be federal, provincial or even municipal, and our approach is wanting to always do the right thing and do right by our customers as well,” said Hébert. “It’s about putting in place tools and systems to make sure with 1,000 employees everybody is doing the right thing.”