PFN Group of Companies: Building relationships

PFN Group of Companies CEO Richard Missens in The Canadian Business Quarterly

The Pasqua First Nation Group of Companies, better known by the acronym PFN Group of Companies, is a company owned by the Pasqua First Nation and acts as the major thrust in the Nation’s economic development strategy.

Group CEO, Richard Missens, is a member of the Pasqua First Nation #79, a Saulteaux/Cree First Nation, and lives on the reservation located 60km northeast of Regina and 15km west of Fort Qu-Appelle in Saskatchewan. The reserve currently has an area of almost 9k hectares, approximately 264 hectares of which is valley land. Pasqua First Nation has approximately 2,000 band members, of which around 69% live off reserve. Pasqua First Nation is a member of the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council, which is part of Treaty 4 Territory. Mr Missens spoke to us recently about the beginnings of PFN Group of Companies, the Indigenous values that guide the company in achieving the Nation’s economic strategy, and the commitment to building relationships that benefit both the First Nation and Canada.

Pasqua First Nation

“[PFN Group] is a company 100% owned by the Pasqua First Nation here in Saskatchewan,” Mr Missens says. “It was established by the Chief and Council in 2012, and it was set up as a joint venture company to partner with industry.”

In 2018, the council decided it wanted the company to do more. It developed the PFN Group of Companies Limited Partnership, making PFN Group of Companies Inc. the general partner. It was to be the major thrust of the Pasqua First Nations’ economic strategy.

“I joined the company in 2019. In line with what the council wanted to do, the company didn’t have any staff at that time, there was just an LP and a General Partner with no staff. So, Chief Peigan and the Council approached me and asked me if I would come and help them out, as the President and CEO.”

Previous to beginning this role, Mr Missens had forged a successful career in academia, having spent 27 years as a facility member of the School of Business at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina.

“When the Chief and Council asked me to be a big part of the new company, I was honored. One of the first initiatives we wanted to do, in speaking with the Council, was build some capacity. We now have a Business Development Manager, and we’ve employed a professional Agrologist on staff to help with some of the farm planning we have in mind.”

Mr Missens quickly set out to work on identifying opportunities for the company, including ways of creating employment and training for First Nations members, and developing a strategic plan for moving forward. In early 2020, the Group and Council established an independent Board of Directors.

Subsidiary activities

The PFN Group of Companies is the overarching organization, and it contains four subsidiary businesses that the group manages under its portfolio, the biggest of which is Pro Metal Industries located in Regina.

“[Pro Metal] is one of Western Canada’s premier precision, custom manufacturing, assembly, metal fabrication, and welding [specialists]. We bought it in 2015, and the company has done really well since we’ve purchased it. During the pandemic Pro Metal was able to pivot the company, and we grew our sales from $2m in 2019 to over $10m.”

This new growth was partly due to the realization that many of the laser cutting and waterjet tools the company had could cut through a quarter inch of Plexiglas as easily as it could cut through six inches of steel.

“So we started making protective barriers for schools and offices. We also started manufacturing portable sinks and handwashing stations. We designed a division of the company called Sage Pro Protect, which delivered PPE and products to First Nations organizations, schools and government.”

This pivot helped the company grow despite the pandemic, at the same time providing vital assistance to other First Nations people. The company was seen as a preferred service provider for PPE in helping Indigenous Services Canada deliver these essential products.

“The other business, [Paskwa Pit Stop], we inherited actually, which has been running on the reserve for 20 years. It is a small convenience and gas station that provides fuel, tobacco, convenience, and grocery products to the local households and families here on the reserve.”

At the time the LP was created, Chief and Council moved the Paskwa Pit Stop business under the control of PFN Group of Companies, and it has been a successful business for over two decades, running on a team of 8 full-time and 7 part-time staff.

“It does really well,” Mr Missens explains. “It’s cash positive, been doing that for 20 years. It employs people and creates revenues, and most of all providing what I think is essential products and services here in the Nation.”

Another company owned by the group was one it developed in 2018, Pasqua First Nation Land Holdings Ltd, a business was established as a land and property management company that buys land and buildings in the area and acts as landlord for some of the other businesses the group runs.

PFN Group of Companies CEO Richard Missens in The Canadian Business Quarterly
PFN Group of Companies recently started manufacturing portable sinks and handwashing stations. This division, Sage Pro Protect provides PPE and products to First Nations organizations, schools and government

“Right now, the company manages approximately $8m of commercial and agricultural land. So, for example we’ve got roughly 1,300 arable acres of land, in 10 quarters, right next to our reserve community, and that’s owned by this company. We currently lease it out, so we get some lease revenues from that.”

The company also owns vacant commercial land in the town of Fort Qu’Appelle, about 20 mins from the reserve. The land was given to the land holding company, and PFN Group of Companies is currently looking at economic opportunities for how to best utilize it.

“The last entity we have is a very new one, a very young one. It is actually managed out of our community Public Works department. It’s our PFN Tire Shop, located right on the reserve, and it provides tires and tire servicing to the residents and businesses on the reserve.”

As a small company, the tire shop borrows its capacity from the Nation’s Public Works Department. There are currently plans to turn it into an independent, standalone tire garage and brake service for the community in the near future.

Investment strategy

“Part of our investment strategy is to actually own businesses and operate them, but we are also investing, by purchasing equity in other businesses that we think are doing really well, and have that have products, services and opportunities that align with PFN Group of Companies needs and values.”

The PFN Group has equity in a number of companies, one of which is Atlantis Research Labs, a Canadian research and development company located in Medicine Hat, Alberta. The group’s interest was in a product called PureJet, a proprietary technology developed by Atlantis to effectively treat waste gas and eliminate harmful emissions.

“In 2019, the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan changed the regulation with the oil and gas industry around flaring of gas, which doesn’t do a good enough job in trying to dismantle waste gas. According to the Atlantis executives, PureJet technology is 99.99% effective in dismantling and treating this waste gas, and eliminated all the harmful emissions that were coming from that.”

Oil and gas is one of the biggest industries in Alberta and Saskatchewan, but the Pasqua First Nation’s values revolve around taking care of Mother Earth, and as such the group must be careful with its business choices.

“Our corporate values wouldn’t permit us to invest in oil and gas exploration and development, but it’s perfect for us to get involved in helping to clean up. This product is now out into the industry, so we’re pretty proud to be a part of Atlantis Research Labs.”

Another company the PFN Group owns 50% equity in, is NP Aerospace, a world leader in advanced low weight, high-performance armor systems for personal and platform, the integration of military vehicle systems, and delivering complete turnkey composites engineering services for commercial applications.

“We make ballistic protective devices like shields, vests for military and police services. We also make ballistic helmets. In 2018, we won the contract to manufacture 33,000 helmets for the Canadian Army.”

The company’s main manufacturing plant is located in Coventry, UK, but it also has a smaller plant in London, Ontario. PFN Group invested in the company as part of its strategy to enter into the global military and defense industry.

“We’ve had a lot of First Nations elders and people who have served in military conflicts Canada has been involved in, so we have First Nations veterans from our community. We thought contributing to the protection of soldiers and military service personal was a good way for our community to give back.”

The last company that PFN Group has invested in is Atlas Biotechnologies Inc., which produces and distributes pharmaceutical products, in particular providing cultivation and production of medical cannabis products for healthcare sector.

The company operates under precision, controlled laboratory conditions and is expertly positioned to cultivate the most consistent medical cannabis products. The PFN Group’s interest was in the medical research and the potential health and wellness benefits to society.

“When the cannabis industry in Canada became legalized, it was a big boom of speculation and growth, everybody was scrambling to build capacity in providing cannabis products. We went to our elders, our community and our families and asked them – is this an opportunity we would like to be involved in as a Nation, and we got a resounding ‘no’.”

PFN Group of Companies CEO Richard Missens in The Canadian Business Quarterly
The Pasqua First Nation Group of Companies, better known by the acronym PFN Group of Companies, is a company owned by the Pasqua First Nation and acts as the major thrust in the Nation’s economic development strategy

The concern came from cannabis being an illegal drug until recently. The Nation has struggled with issues of substance abuse in its own communities, creating some hesitancy about getting involved in cannabis production.

“One of the things we did find out is that cannabis is made up of two main compounds, THC and CBD. THC is the recreational side of it, and the CBD is the medical side of it, and that’s where we were very intrigued with what Atlas Biotechnologies were doing. They positioned themselves as a medical cannabis company.”

The company developed a lab and started identifying derivatives of CBD, signing agreements with medical schools around the world – including Harvard and University of Alberta – to provide high-value cannabis CBD oil, derivatives and flower for research.

“As an example, the Harvard Medical School is doing research on neurological diseases, such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s and trying to find if these CBD derivatives can be useful in treatments. So we were very intrigued by that, and we went back to our Council and community members to confirm medical cannabis was okay to be a part of.”

The downstream opportunity we realized from this investment was the creation of a new Indigenous product line of medical cannabis products soon to be launched under the brand called Mino-Ahki (Good Earth) and a unique line of topical creams that combine traditional medicines and the benefits of cannabis CBD.

Future vision

When Mr Missens joined the company in 2019, it had already established a number of joint ventures and understandings with other companies. Having started life as a joint venture, it was well placed to form a number of beneficial partnerships.

“When Enbridge Line 3 Replacement was coming through Western Canada, when potash exploration development was happening, oil and gas exploration was happening – companies were looking for Indigenous partners to partner with.”

When these partnerships presented themselves, PFN Group of Companies took a good look to see what benefits there could be for the group and the Nation itself. This resulted in some important joint ventures.

“We continued on that path when I came on in 2019. We now have eleven partnerships with various companies in various industries. For example, we have engineering, logistics, construction, architectural companies, pipeline fabrications, line servicing, hydrovac. We wanted to develop a comprehensive group of companies that we called our alliance.”

Now, when the group is looking to provide services to both the Pasqua First Nation, other Nations, governments and, large companies, it reaches back into the alliance to find all the services and products it would need to bid on local or larger large contracts.

“So, we developed a round table discussion group where we sit with our eleven partners in order to plan, strategize and explore new opportunities for the alliance. PFN Group of Companies is the common denominator and we organize this on a quarterly basis. So, it’s something different.”

This approach has been extremely beneficial both for the companies involved in the alliance, and for PFN Group of Companies, which is now able to position itself to provide labor, training, lobbying and profit sharing.

“We saw a lot of win-win in this. For our companies, bringing the alliance together and helping to take the lead on some of these bids and project negotiations and lobbying, we think we can bring more work to them in that respect. We just started this year, and we’re pretty excited about the future of that one.”

As a community-driven company, the future of the group is influenced by discussions with Chief and Council and the Board, but also just as importantly with members of the Nation and especially from our elders, which Mr Missens has made a commitment to doing.

One untapped resource the Nation has is its current land holdings, and future land to be purchased as part of a Treaty Land Entitlement agreement with Canada.

PFN Group of Companies CEO Richard Missens in The Canadian Business Quarterly
PFN Group is a company 100% owned by the Pasqua First Nation in Saskatchewan. It was established by the Chief and Council in 2012, and it was set up as a joint venture company to partner with industry

“Under the TLE, we have the ability to buy upwards of 30,000 acres of land and turn it into a reserve. Right now we have a little over 11,500 acres of arable farm land, but that land is currently all rented out or leased to non-resident farmers. So it’s not Pasqua First Nation band members directly benefiting from farming on our land.”

After some discussion with the Council, the plan is to develop this land into a corporate farm, Pasqua Farms Ltd, which will be 100% owned by the PFN Group and built the capacity with band members trained to run the operation. The farm would start with grain and oilseed, before moving into poultry, bison or other agricultural products.

“When I met with our elders, they reminded me that we have a spiritual connection to the land, we always have as First Nations people. We live in harmony with the land, we are part of this ecosystem, and we’re taught that everything is connected.”

The Pasqua Elders remind Mr Missens and the group to be very careful and deliberate with its ecological choices. The way in which the land is taken care of is paramount for the Nation and for the PFN Group that represents it.

“But, we have to take a different approach, For example, we’re looking at things like the current agriculture – the industry is dominated by heavy use of chemicals, they’re draining wetlands, taking down trees, all to try and get from 40 bushels an acre to 60 bushels an acre. But you can’t squeeze that much out of the land, Mother Earth can only give so much – we are taught by the elders that you’ve got to be able to give back and take care of her.”

In a farming practice, the PFN Group would need to be very deliberate in its actions, maintaining soil health and protecting watersheds, as well as protecting the forests by planting bushes and trees for the animals.

“We’ve got to be able to minimize climate pollutions that we produce. The goal is, to sustainably farm the land so it’s there for our children that for the generations no yet born. That’s something our elders teach us – to look far, far ahead. We’re just borrowing the land, and that it does not belong to us.”

First Nations people have been isolated on their reservations for over a hundred years, set aside as Canada was developed as a nation. This means that in terms of business, First Nations are 25 years behind the rest of the world.

“We can be great partners, we can be great contributors to local economies, provincial and national economies, and we become more self-sustaining and self-dependent and less dependent on Canada. This becomes an important part of our self-determination – and it won’t take 25 years to catch up.”

Investing in First Nation businesses helps create better partners with direct benefits back to the company through increased supplier productivity, better quality products and services, and increased reliability.

“Economic development is an important part of the development strategies within First Nations governments, but it’s just the means to an end. It is getting to a place where we can begin to address some of the social pathologies we deal with as First Nations people.”

The economic benefits such as wealth, profits and jobs created by PFN Group of Companies go directly back to the community. These benefits have a positive impact within the community by spending the proceeds on community programs and services, education and training, healthy water and homes.

“We want to be able to provide opportunities for our families, especially young families, to look after themselves, to look after their children, to create opportunities and jobs. One of the ways we see that happening is by asking corporate Canada to invest in us. When you make friends with First Nations people, it’s for life.”

With a commitment to building strategic partnerships and investing in Indigenous owned businesses we can contribute to a brighter future within First Nations communities. Find out more about PFN Group of Companies by visiting www.pfngroupinc.com

WRM Strata Management & Real Estate Services: Setting the standard for property management in British Columbia

WRM Strata Management & Real Estate Services Director Beau Craig in The Canadian Business Quarterly

Operating in the Whistler and Sea to Sky Corridor for over 35 years, WRM Strata Management & Real Estate Services provides proactive strata management services to a range of strata properties including residential and commercial buildings.

Director Beau Craig arrived in Whistler in 1996, and instantly fell in love with the area, drawn in by the mountains and culture that existed in this quaint but international resort community. He began working with WRM in 2003, building on prior property management experience. In 2016 he purchased the company and has been instrumental in growing the business as a leader within the industry, managing over $3.5bn of real estate and over 200 strata corporations. Mr Craig spoke to us recently about the development of the business, the benefits of being a key part of the Whistler community, and the further growth of its niche resort-style strata management planned for the future.

Resort-style strata management

“The company was established in 1986,” Mr Craig explains. “It started because of the building boom that happened in this area at that time. In the early 90s, a lot of accommodations were being built, hotels, restaurants and things of that nature, which needed management companies. So that’s where the company was born – out of necessity.”

Since then, WRM has evolved into a resort-style strata management company, which is different than a lot of other strata management companies that do primarily residential, where people occupy the buildings all the time.

“We have grown significantly and pretty steadily over the years. We currently manage just over 200 different strata corporations, which also represent just over 17,000 units, and we do certainly have the biggest market share in the area.”

The company manages a variety of different types of units, including residential, commercial, and mixed-use strata corporations. WRM operates primarily in Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton, while also having a couple of properties in Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

Mr Craig came to Whistler in the mid-1990s, and was working for a nightly rental management company when a colleague suggested that WRM – a growing strata company that was looking for people – was worth considering.

“After I spoke with [the owners] and heard what their plans were for the business,” he says, “I immediately gave my notice and jumped on board, and I was working here a couple of weeks later.”

WRM Strata Management & Real Estate Services Director Beau Craig in The Canadian Business Quarterly
Director Beau Craig arrived in Whistler in 1996, and instantly fell in love with the area, drawn in by the mountains and culture that existed in this quaint but international resort community

With the difficult year and a half of the pandemic starting to stabilize, now that borders are opening up and business is returning to usual, WRM’s position as a locally-owned and operated company will create plenty of advantages.

“We do have a few competitors in the area, but they’re not part of the community. They have offices based in Vancouver or somewhere else, and they have a satellite office setup here. A lot of our clients see our local knowledge and presence as a huge advantage, because we have all of our staff live and work here. We’re a big part of the community.”

Another big advantage comes in the company’s relationship with local tradespeople, as it is able to use its size to offer a lot of business to trades, leveraging them to get the best deals for clients, which smaller companies are not able to do.

“We also have a Home Care Division. Because we’re in Whistler, where people don’t occupy their units all the time, we have a division that can go into people’s properties to make sure that the heat is on, make sure there are no leaks in their units while they’re not here. Owner’s really like the idea that we can go into the unit and make sure it’s ok. This also satisfies their insurance companies requirements to cover any losses that originate when the property is unoccupied for extended periods of time”.

Because of the region’s proximity to the United States, and Seattle in particular, there are a lot of Americans who come to Whistler, purchasing second properties they can easily drive to on weekends and for vacations.

“Those properties haven’t been able to be used for the past year and a half, during the pandemic, so the news that the borders are going to be open on August 9th is great news for our clients that are from the States that can finally come up here for non-essential travel.”

The day-to-day issues that the company generally deals with are similar to those that would be found in nightly rental properties, such as noise complaints, problems with leaks and floods, as well as structural issues that develop over time.

“Because we live in the mountains, the properties themselves take a bit of a beating. They get much more abuse than they would typically get in the lower mainland or in a different climate. We get freeze/thaw cycles, we get lots of snow, all the way down to -30C in the winter time, and then +40C in the summer time. The drastic change in temperature requires us to have a lot of eyes on the building to make sure things are working as they should.”

One of the biggest issues in the strata industry in BC over the last few years has been to do with insurance, with higher premiums popping up as a result of the insurance industry being hit with an increasing number of natural disasters.

WRM Strata Management & Real Estate Services Director Beau Craig in The Canadian Business Quarterly
With a strong local business in Whistler, and plans to grow its resort-style strata management service into other areas, WRM is a company looking forward to the next stage of its journey

“What we’re able to do, based on our buying power, is negotiate with brokers and insurance underwriters to get the best deal for our clients. If we go to those underwriters with a very large chunk of our portfolio, they give our clients a much better deal.”

It has continued to be a challenge for WRM, because of the heavy losses people have continued to suffer, but this strategy has allowed the company to successfully get the best insurance deals for its strata properties.

Staffing in the area is always difficult, but Mr Craig admits they don’t see a great deal of turnover on staff levels, with changes to the way people work and the lure of Whistler ensuring people tend to stay around, and the company offering a good work package to incentivize them to do so.

“We have a good group of year-round locals here. We do see more people now coming from Vancouver and trying to move to Whistler. The pandemic really has shown people can work from home, and we have some of our staff that are working from home as well. It’s a nice place to live, a nice option for people to come up here.”

WRM Strata Management & Real Estate Services Director Beau Craig in The Canadian Business Quarterly
Operating in the Whistler and Sea to Sky Corridor for over 35 years, WRM Strata Management & Real Estate Services provides proactive strata management services to a range of strata properties including residential and commercial buildings

The future goals for the business revolve around growth. The company has been very successful in the Whistler market in regards to a resort-style strata management service, a model which Mr Craig can see gaining popularity elsewhere.

“There are a lot of other areas within BC that would benefit from the same type of service. The Okanagan in British Columbia is very similar to Whistler, in that people go there for vacations and they have second properties there that aren’t occupied all the time. Same thing on Vancouver Island – Tofino, Ucluelet, Sunshine Coast. There are a lot of areas where we would like to expand in the next few years. I see it as a very big advantage for us moving forward.”

Another success for the company has been in project coordination/management. Managing some large projects in the area that have needed work such as full roof replacements, deck repairs, window replacements and full envelope repairs has been more and more common as buildings age.

“With the introduction of depreciation reports in British Columbia, it’s really helped us guide our strata councils in how they should be funding these projects, and then getting them through them, which is really taking a lot of the workload off the strata councils and putting it onto the management companies. It’s a big part of why we’re succeeding right now.”

With a strong local business in Whistler, and plans to grow its resort-style strata management service into other areas, WRM is a company looking forward to the next stage of its journey. Find out more about WRM Strata Management & Real Estate Services by www.wrm.ca.

Penticton Toyota: State-of-the-art new and used car dealership

Penticton Toyota General Manager Larry Pidperyhora Jr in The Canadian Business Quarterly

Serving the local community for over 40 years, Penticton Toyota is a locally owned and operated dealership, offering next-level service from its recently-renovated, state-of-the-art showroom and cutting edge service centre.

General Manager Larry Pidperyhora Jr. has been with the dealership for nearly 10 years and is a second-generation operator, with his father Larry Pidperyhora Sr. currently serving as Dealer Principal. Mr Pidperyhora Jr. has served in many positions at the dealership, starting in sales, then Financial Services, Sales Manager, and now General Manager, and prides himself on being a hands-on operator that engages his team to always strive to grow, develop, and carry the business forward. He credits the dealership’s success to his team of loyal and dedicated staff and the relationships that have been forged with the dealership’s clients and community. Mr Pidperyhora Jr. spoke with us recently about his career path through the dealership, the issues currently being faced in the automotive industry, and the new state-of-the-art facilities that are helping the dealership remain sustainable into the future.

Family business

“We’re a family owned and operated dealership,” Mr Pidperyhora Jr. explains. “My father Larry Sr. is the Dealer Principal. He’s been with the dealership since 1992, when we moved back to Canada. He has grown through the business in the same capacity as I have – Sales and Sales Manager, and grown through all levels of the business.”

Mr Pidperyhora Sr. partnered with Tony Whiles who was his counterpart in parts and service, going through a complete buyout of a previous business partner in 2015 and now owning the business together.

“Penticton is in the southern part of the Okanagan valley, so we’re about 45 minutes from the US border. It is pretty well known I think throughout Canada, and probably even internationally, for being one of the most beautiful parts of Canada. We have amazing lakes, mountains, world-class skiing, wineries. Just so many amazing things.”

The allure of the city continues to bring people from all over Canada, with those retiring or selling their homes from the lower mainland. There has been a lot of development and redevelopment over recent years, creating more modern, high-density living.

“There’s a lot of growth happening, a lot of people moving to the area, they’re discovering it and deciding that’s where they want to be, once they’re done with their career, and just taking advantage of everything we have to offer. It’s an amazing city.”

Mr Pidperyhora Jr. became involved in the business after graduating business school at Okanagan College in Kelowna. He began working at a smaller dealership, and after interviewing with the management team at Penticton Toyota, made the decision to move.

Penticton Toyota General Manager Larry Pidperyhora Jr in The Canadian Business Quarterly
General Manager Larry Pidperyhora Jr. has been with the dealership for nearly 10 years and is a second-generation operator, with his father Larry Pidperyhora Sr. currently serving as Dealer Principal

“I wanted to make sure that if I was going to come aboard that it was a going to be a good fit for everybody and myself. So I started at the dealership in 2012 as a salesperson, then I started to progress and learn a lot of the different aspects of the business and various departments.”

It was important for Mr Pidperyhora Jr. to join the business and learn from the bottom up, and throughout the years he has passed through the roles of salesperson, Finance Manager, Used Vehicle Manager and Sales Manager, before finally arriving at his current role as GM.

“Knowing from an early standpoint that this was going to be what I wanted to do for a career, it was very important as a second generation to carry the torch so to speak from the success that my father’s had, taking the dealership to the next levels.”

Single point store

Penticton Toyota is a single point store, independently owned and operated. In today’s automotive landscape, a lot of dealerships are owned by dealer groups of various sizes, with some running as many as 50 dealerships or more.

“Being an independently owned and operated single point means that we are the only store within the group. That gives us a lot more of a hands-on culture, and given the fact that your Dealer Principal is in the dealership every day, you really get that feeling of knowing who you work for and knowing the message and the philosophy you’re carrying out.”

There is a lot to admire in the corporate culture of the bigger groups, operating impressively with so many moving parts, and it is becoming quite rare for single point dealerships to be operating, as much of the time it makes more sense to sell to a group.

“We love it,” Mr Pidperyhora Jr. says. “We can focus 100% of our efforts and energy on this location, knowing what’s going on inside and out and having a really strong ‘finger on the pulse’ type of management style.”

The Toyota brand is well known throughout the world as very high-quality, and Mr Pidperyhora Jr. has nothing but good things to say, recognizing that many people who buy Toyotas are owners for life.

“When I talk to a customer in our showroom, or to someone I’ve met for the first time, you ask them if they’ve ever owned a Toyota, and the stories come out about what their first Toyota was, or what they did with their first Toyota. We’re known for our reliability, dependability, quality and resale value.”

As an innovative automobile manufacturer, Toyota is regularly coming out with the newest technology, whether its safety features, alternate power trends, fuel efficiency, or environmentally-friendly building practices.

“I’ve seen more first-time Toyota buyers in the last three years than I ever had before that, so a lot of people are starting to open up to the brand, particularly through the avenue of hybrid and plug-in hybrid. We’re seeing those people trading in other makes and really understanding what Toyota is all about.”

Penticton Toyota General Manager Larry Pidperyhora Jr in The Canadian Business Quarterly
Serving the local community for over 40 years, Penticton Toyota is a locally owned and operated dealership, offering next-level service from its recently-renovated, state-of-the-art showroom and cutting edge service centre

Toyota remains one of the most recognized brands in the world and as such still commands a huge amount of respect amongst the public. Mr Pidperyhora Jr. and the team at Penticton Toyota are extremely proud to work with and represent the brand.

The automotive industry across North America is currently suffering from a parts shortage, with supply issues meaning new vehicles are sometimes not able to be built, which is creating a high demand.

“You have a sales velocity that is absolutely unprecedented. What we’re selling as a percentage of what’s available to us is just bizarre. When you have a scarcity of new vehicles, you’re not taking in as many trade-ins, so we’re now seeing the same thing happen with pre-owned vehicle market.”

This means that there is a huge jump in value on certain vehicles, which is forcing dealers to adapt in order to find ways to keep inventory levels healthy enough to meet ongoing sales objectives.

“The way consumers have changed their buying habits through COVID, they realize there’s a better way, that they don’t have to come to the dealership. They want to do as much of the process online, or contactless, or at their own pace, so a lot of dealers are adjusting to different buying behaviors.”

All of these changes come on top of the continuing move towards alternate power trends, whether that be electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or in the case of Toyota, hydrogen, which is where the future focus is going to be.

“What we see happening today, we’ve never seen anything like it. There is all sort of speculation and talk about when things might correct, when will production catch up to demand. You’ve got to take it day by day and keep your eyes open for what’s going to happen in the future. There are a lot of real struggles because of inventory availability.”

Sustainable business

Servicing the communities within the South Okanagan including, Penticton, Summerland, Oliver, and Osoyoos. Penticton Toyota sells around 650 new vehicles and 500 used cars annually. Staff levels at the dealership have increased over 40% in the last eight years, and it currently employs 50 full time staff, with some working at the dealership for upwards of 30 years.

Penticton Toyota General Manager Larry Pidperyhora Jr in The Canadian Business Quarterly
With continued growth and a keen awareness of how to adapt to industry conditions, Mr Pidperyhora Jr. and the team at Penticton Toyota are committed to building a sustainable future for the dealership

“One of the biggest things in our business is parts and service; it’s not just when we sell the vehicle, it’s how we look after the customer after the sale. We needed more capacity in our service department, so in 2017 we underwent a massive renovation, doubled the size of our service facility, added more technology, more abilities to look after our service guests.”

The renovation was timely, as the demand for vehicles and servicing over the last few years has grown significantly, with huge increases of sales over a large section of different models the dealership offers.

“Pre-owned vehicles has been the same thing. We’re currently under construction of a brand new used-car facility right next door. So we’re growing our pre-owned operations, we’ve grown our parts and service operations, with increased volume, which hired more sales staff, more sales managers, more accounting staff. We’ve created a lot of jobs.”

The growth of the company has been exceptional over the years, and Mr Pidperyhora Jr. is confident that it is sustainable growth, with the capability of adapting to the business as it goes through changes.

“The big thing is, we want to look after our existing customers – the people that have purchased from us and serviced with us, get a repeat sale out of it – and in addition to that, to grow our business, we want to go after those new Toyota owners and earn their business, get them to buy into the product, and hopefully add them to our customer portfolio base.”

The future of the business is likely to see some structural changes, with Larry Pidperyhora Sr. looking to begin moving towards retirement, which would eventually see Mr Pidperyhora Jr. take over the dealership.

“As I mentioned earlier, we are building a pre-owned facility next door, about 6,000sqft on an additional acre of land, that is going to house all of our pre-owned vehicle operations and our reconditioning of used vehicles.”

This change will allow for more service capacity, so the dealership can utilize the property it currently works from to focus on new car sales, which will involve hiring new people, and adjusting processes and company structure to accommodate the changes.

“From there it’s just staying on top of everything Toyota is doing, waiting for the new product cycles to come out. We want to get even more ingrained in our community, and continue to be good corporate citizens and do everything we can to keep the business sustainable and have some fun.”

With continued growth and a keen awareness of how to adapt to industry conditions, Mr Pidperyhora Jr. and the team at Penticton Toyota are committed to building a sustainable future for the dealership. Find out more about Penticton Toyota by visiting www.pentictontoyota.com.