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.
“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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
“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.