By Gianni Ubriaco, for NorthernLife.ca
After more than $1 million in renovations to Cambrian Ford’s building, located at 1615 The Kingsway, the dealership itself and its future is looking brighter than ever. One of the most apparent changes is the addition of new solar panels to its roof. The 10 kw photovoltaic commercial solution solar panels are believed to be the first of their kind in the city, said the company’s general manger and president Stephen McCulloch.
“The company who installed the solar panels (Capital Construction) told me there aren’t’ any like this running in the city, and I’m pretty sure there’s none among the 430 Ford stores in Canada,” he said. “The energy goes back into the grid, so it’s a lot more efficient than trying to store it in batteries and use it yourself.”
The company also put in a new roof over the showroom. The TPO reflective white roof features thermoplastic polyolefin roofing membranes that reflect the sun’s energy. That, in turn, significantly reduces the building’s cooling costs, McCulloch explained, adding that new roof also doubled the typical insulation level to further reduce heat loss.
“It’s more expensive than a conventional tar roof, but it’s better for the environment,” he said. “It’s more environmentally conscientious now, but also for down the road when we have to replace it since it’ll cause much less landfill issues.”
The showroom was also completely redone as its brick walls have now been replaced by glass, allowing passing motorists to catch a quick peak of the vehicles s on display. Plus, the lighting in the showroom is now a lot brighter thanks to new T-5 fluorescent bulbs.
“They cost a little more money up front, but they use a lot less energy,” McCulloch said.
On top of all that, all new tiles have been added throughout the dealership. The natural maple tiles were even placed in the customer waiting lounge, which was also expanded. Plus, new desks and cabinets were put into the service and sales department. In fact, the president noted that three additional sales offices were added thanks to improved sales recently. He also noted that the size of the company’s parts department was expanded, and that new heat and ventilation units were set up as well.
As for the exterior, a new tower entrance with a big Ford logo was put in place.
After nearly five months worth of work, the final product was unveiled to employees and their families at a special grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 21.
“The building’s original design was done very well, but it just needed to be updated,” McCulloch said. “This is basically about our commitment and belief in the Ford brand and our belief in Sudbury."
The company was founded by Alexander McLeod, the owner of Sudbury’s second automobile dealership, under the name of McLeod Motors back in 1911. Today, Cambrian Ford is northern Ontario’s largest Ford dealership, as it averages more than 1,000 vehicle sales a year and employs nearly 80 people.
“It’s been 10 years now for my brother (Scott) and I, but we’re just the caretakers of the business for a few decades,” McCulloch said. “We’re just keeping the franchise going, so we had to invest in the future for the next 100 years.”
Michelle Caza Joly has been a secretary/treasurer and a partner at the business for the last three years.
The company also launched a unique social media campaign on Sept. 23. The “MyCambrianFord.com” video challenge encourages every driver to share their unique experience with Cambrian Ford using a 15-second video clip.
Once they’re done their masterpiece, they’re asked to upload their video online to the website. The contest runs until Nov. 23 and is open to anyone 18 years and older with a valid driver’s licence.
Users can vote for the top ten, but management will ultimately decide on a winner. That individual will then receive a one-year lease on the company’s brand new subcompact world car – the 2011 Ford Fiesta.
The challenge is the first of its kind in Canada, the general manager pointed out, and he said the goal is to connect with customers across the north to help celebrate 99 years of customer service. He went on to say that the company also just launched a new Facebook page to give people a different way to interact with Cambrian Ford.
“Get involved, come and check out our new renovations, and check out our award-winning line of products,” McCulloch said. “We’ve been here for 99 years and the plan is to be here for another 99 years.”
He indicated that Ford Canada has gained market share every month for the last two years. He added that the company has grown the most out of any other manufacturer in Canada, and that Cambrian Ford has grown equally, if not more, than Ford in general over that time period.
“So, Ford is on track to be the number one brand in Canada,” he said. “The way it’s tracking, it’s looking like it’s going to be that way before the end of the year.”
He credits much of the success to Ford’s global chief executive officer, Alan Mulally. McCulloch said four years ago, Mulally fully committed to producing quality vehicles and offering top-notch customer satisfaction.
“Ford didn’t take any money from the government, like Chrysler and General Motors did, and they made $2.6 billion last quarter, so they’re paying off their debt quickly,” he said. “Ford got their house in order on their own accord the old fashioned way - by paying down debt and not declaring bankruptcy...by selling more cars and becoming more efficient.”