Cross-Canada snapshot


ABSC grads in the spotlight in Halifax

On the eve of the CADEX conference in Halifax, N.S., last week, the Automotive Business School of Canada organized a special dinner event to celebrate the students that graduated from the Canadian Dealer Academy’s Dealership Management Program.

There were approximately 60 people in attendance, including the ABSC’s Executive Director Jason Dale, and Sebrina Westbrooke, Manager of the Canadian Dealer Academy.

Graduates of the program were able to advance their skills and knowledge and boost their auto industry careers, while still maintaining a full-time job throughout the 14-month course. “It’s not the type of program where you learn and shelf it — it’s practical and relevant to today’s business needs,” said Westbrooke.

The program is held in Canada, with a Canadian faculty using current data from dealerships and participants in the program. While still studying, students are able to immediately apply their knowledge back at their dealerships. This can help deliver an immediate return on investment for the students, and for the dealerships they work for.

Canadian Dealer Academy Alumni acknowledged at the event were:

  • Deji Akinniyi, 2022
  • Richard Allen, 2019
  • Erica Huntley, 2022
  • Dave Gibson, 2019
  • Matthew Munroe, 2022
  • Chris Ryder, 2022
  • Brent Sullivan, 2018
  • Matthew Wilneff, 2018
  • Bob Withers, 2023
  • Brad Jacobs, 2022
  • Michael MacGillivray, 2021

Those interested in the program should visit: academics/programs/automotivedealership- management/


CADEX conference a hit with dealers

The annual conference and networking event, Canadian Dealer Excellence East, or CADEX for short, was held recently in Halifax, N.S. The event brought industry experts and keynote speakers for an intense half-day conference followed by a President’s Dinner gala event. The event is organized by the Nova Scotia Automobile Dealers Association (NSADA).

“We got great feedback from our dealer members,” said John Sutherland, NSADA’s Executive Vice-President. “It was the best attended CADEX event we’ve held.”

The conference, themed “The Future of Automotive Retail” delivers education and insights, but also created an annual gathering and networking opportunity for dealers, suppliers, and educational institutions like the Automotive Business School of Canada, who held an Alumni dinner event the night before CADEX, celebrating the Canadian Dealer Academy.

Guest speakers at this year’s event included double representation from the national dealer association with Tim Reuss, President & CEO of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA); he delivered an update on key files the association is working on with a political update from Huw Williams, CADA’s Director of Public Affairs.

This year’s event was moderated by Niel Hiscox, Publisher of Canadian auto dealer and President of Universus. “Niel always does such an excellent job moderating and helping line up the speakers for our event,” said Sutherland.

Other speakers included: Matthew Growden, head of Google Canada’s Automotive Practice; Steve Greenfield, CEO and Founder at Automotive Ventures; Christina Morris, from Subaru Canada, who presented new research from Accelerate Auto about the Black consumer experience in auto retail; Jeremie Bernardin, Business Development Manager, ALL EV by Steele; Pamela Tiller, Weis & Associates, who presented on the seven key impacts EVs will have on dealerships; and Joe D’Urzo, Rocket EV Charging Solutions.

TD Auto Finance was the event’s presenting sponsor; other sponsors included Canadian auto dealer magazine, CADA, and the NSADA.



Ford to transform Oakville site into EV manufacturing hub

Ford is investing $1.8 billion in its Oakville Assembly Complex in Ontario so it can turn the site into a new high-volume Canadian hub of electric vehicle manufacturing, according to an OEM news release.

The transformation, which will include vehicle and battery pack assembly, is key to the OEM’s plan to boost its global production of EVs to 2 million annually by the end of 2026.

“Canada and the Oakville complex will play a vital role in our Ford+ transformation,” said Ford President and CEO Jim Farley in a statement. “It will be a modern, super-efficient, vertically integrated site for battery and vehicle assembly.”

Ford’s 487-acre Oakville site currently includes three body shops, one paint building, and an assembly building, but there are plans for a new 407,000 square-foot on-site battery plant for cells and arrays from the BlueOval SK Battery Park in Kentucky.

The site will be renamed the Oakville Electric Vehicle Complex, and its massive transformation — from retooling to modernization — will begin next year, during the second quarter of 2024. Ford said the move marks the first time a “full-line automaker” announced that it would manufacture passenger EVs in Canada for the North American market.

“Ford’s commitment to invest in OAC retooling and upskilling signals a bright future for Canadian EV production and for Canadian auto sector employment,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President, in a statement. “The transformation of the Oakville plant is an important step towards a stronger industry and testament to the hard work, skills, and dedication of our Unifor Oakville Assembly Complex members.”


First-time Canadian dealers find U.S. more financially feasible

by Perry Lefko

Two Canadians in the automotive dealership business are about to become first-time owners of a store in Southern California, after discovering that it was financially more feasible than trying to purchase one in Canada.

Phil Alalouf and Todd Hewitt, both from Vancouver, British Columbia, formed the PATH Auto Group using the initials in their names. Alalouf and Hewitt each have more than 30 years of experience on the retail side. They decided they wanted to own a dealership rather than be minority owners in two stores owned by the Foundation Auto Group.

“We’re very grateful to have learned (from Foundation Auto),” said Alalouf. “I never thought it was possible to buy a dealership unless [you have a] bunch of money or have a family background in the business. They gave us the pathway into what that could look like and how you deal with banks— how to get lenders and finances in place.”

Alalouf and Hewitt reached out to various brokers and ended up working with Performance Brokerage Services. Because of a non-disclosure agreement, the partners are not allowed to reveal the brand of the store they purchased, although Alalouf said he has a long history with the brand.

Alalouf said the opportunities in the U.S. are much greater than in Canada in terms of investment. So when the opportunity to buy a store that had a brand he was familiar with— which happened to be in a warm climate—it made sense to do it.

“For me it was this big full circle and had every check you could imagine,” said Alalouf. “The price was aligned with what we could afford. We looked in Canada, but the (larger auto groups) are buying up in bulk, so you’re not going to be in a major market anyways, not that we wanted to. We could invest less in the U.S. and make more. It’s just [that] the pure profitability of the stores in the U.S. is so much greater than what it is in Canada, and I would never have thought that. I always thought Canada was the way. I wouldn’t have known (otherwise) had I not gone down to the U.S.”

He said he wanted to buy a business in Kelowna, B.C., where his two sons could work with him, but found the market too cost prohibitive. He also said the stores they looked into were off the grid.

Related Articles
Share via
Copy link