AYR, Ont. – With not even a year under its belt since being named Volvo’s Canadian Dealer of the Year last summer, Expressway Trucks has reached yet another milestone: its tenth anniversary. On May 16, the Ayr, Ont.-based dealership...
AYR, Ont. – With not even a year under its belt since being named Volvo’s Canadian Dealer of the Year last summer, Expressway Trucks has reached yet another milestone: its tenth anniversary. On May 16, the Ayr, Ont.-based dealership invited staff, customers, suppliers and friends for a lunchtime celebration to mark the achievement, offering helicopter rides for those looking to get a sense of the dealership’s high-flying successes over the last decade.
Scott Lawson, president and dealer principal at Expressway, attributes the location’s longevity to its emphasis on service. “Service is everything,” he told Truck News. “As long as you take care of the customer, the customer will always come back. And that’s what we always try to preach to our employees: when he comes in, make him feel at home and take care of him and he’ll be back – it’s that simple.”
General manager Shaun Howard tips his hat to the company’s management and staff, noting, “(Our success) is really attributed to our people more than anything.”
Parts and service manager Jody Prince points to a unified sales and service team as a main driver to the smooth operation at Expressway. The fact that he and sales manager Jason Queenen have each shared sales and service roles over the years has only further strengthened what can sometimes be a strained relationship at dealerships.
“Since Jason’s taken both roles on and I’ve taken both roles on, we use each other for a sounding board quite a bit, actually, which we at one point in time never did,” Prince said. “Our management is five key people, so not so many people that you have too many opinions and you can never get to a final answer. It’s just enough.”
“We react very quickly,” Queenen added. “We meet every week, very socially, just to discuss what’s going on and if there’s anything that we need to change. A lot of companies seem to react a little late, when the times change. We pride ourselves on reacting very quickly. If we think things are slowing down, we watch our employee hours, watch all of our expenses.”
In addition to customer service, talented staff, and a unified and open management team, Expressway officials also spoke of Lawson’s “vision” for the dealership.
“Scott is probably truly the most entrepreneurial guy I’ve ever met,” Queenen said. “Scott’s visions are massive. He’s all about ‘for the company.’ It’s not about him, he likes to build, he likes to attract people, he wants to attract business, he’ll do anything to do it.”
As Queenen says, Lawson’s passionate and, occasionally, “off-the-wall” ideas are based on the premise of keeping both customers and staff members around. From current attractions like the popcorn machine and the ATM, to future ideas including an in-dealership restaurant and a barber shop – kept separate, of course – the ultimate goal, according to Lawson, is to make Expressway more of a truck stop/dealership hybrid.
“When we do the next renovation here, it’ll combine everything,” Lawson says, noting that they’re already looking at purchasing the property next door.
When the facility opened in 2002, Howard notes that it was “rather empty,” with a 40,000 sq.-ft. facility set on 17 sprawling acres. But over the past decade, Expressway has been in continuous upgrade mode, adding laser alignment racks, flywheel researching machines, a wheel polishing machine, a body shop, a first-of-its-kind media board, in addition to a recent warehouse purchase and expansions of its parts department.
“We still feel that we have a lot of potential here at this facility to grow,” Howard adds. Whether that growth will involve “shave-and-a-haircut” specials for customers remains to be seen, but Howard says the company is confident it can extract another 20-25% growth over the next four to five years as long as it sticks to its principles.
“We believe in working very hard, but by the same token, everyone needs to have fun. We try to make every day a good day for staff, with monthly barbecues, and breakfasts for staff. We are constantly looking at ways of involving the staff,” Howards says. “I can’t say it enough: it starts at the top with our dealer principal and the way that he’s built our team.”