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Markham, ON- June 2016

Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) Chairman Harry Mertin has announced that Mike Trotman of the Trotman Auto Group, Langley, BC, has won the CADA Laureate dealer recognition award for 2016 in the category of Business Innovation.

The Laureate award is considered to be the highest honour a new car and truck dealer in BC can receive over the course of his or her career. “The Laureate is a true industry award,” said Mertin. “It is the only recognition program for new car and truck dealers in Canada that spans all franchises. The entire industry comes together each year – manufacturers, dealers and suppliers, to participate in the confidential nomination process. The nomination process itself is a wonderful event celebrating the contributions made by dealers to their local community, economy and industry.”

Mertin explained that while hundreds of nominations are received, only three dealers are bestowed with the Laureate award annually. “The selection process is very arduous and that’s the way it should be. Because the Laureate is so difficult to win, it’s an exceptionally prestigious honour.”

Laureate awards are presented each year to one dealer in each of three categories: Ambassadorship, Business Innovation and Retail Operations. Mr. Trotman received his Laureate award in the category of Business Innovation, for initiatives that significantly enhance performance or broaden the scope of business for new car and truck dealers.

As the leader in finance & insurance consulting to new car and truck dealers across Canada, iA Dealer Services – SAL is the exclusive sponsor of the Laureate program. Alnoor Jiwani, Senior Vice-President observed that innovation has been a key factor in the success of the Trotman group. “Under Mike’s leadership, the Trotman Auto Group has achieved exceptional growth and results year after year. Mike is committed to ongoing training & leadership development, fostering an innovation-embracing culture, and delivering an exceptional customer experience – that’s a great formula for success. The executive team empowers the business units to run day-to-day operations so they can focus on strategy and innovation. So we’re likely to see more exciting new ideas from Mike and his team in the future.”

Laureate award winners are selected by the Ivey Business School at Western University, from a group of 15 national finalists. Professor Matthew Thomson said, “While all finalists tend to be superlative in at least one judging category, this year was exceptional because a number of finalists were outstanding in every aspect. Yet even among such luminaries, Mike Trotman stood out. There were a number of reasons: continuous growth, a strong focus on promoting from within, continuous efforts to entrench learning and a positive, customer-responsive culture. Mike excels in all of these areas and more.”

After receiving the call from Chairman Mertin, Mike Trotman said, “In Canada, the CADA Laureates are household names that are synonymous with integrity, quality, continuous improvement and innovation. They are a group of people that have always inspired me. I’m thrilled to receive the CADA Laureate award. I think it’s very humbling because of the integrity of the program and the process that you go through. For me, a huge shout out goes to our teams of people who bring it at 100 percent every day, and my business partners – two of whom are my brothers. I wouldn’t be here without them. “

The Canadian Automobile Dealers Association is the national voice of new car and truck dealers in Canada, with headquarters in Markham, Ontario and a government relations office in Ottawa. Its wide-ranging mandate includes helping member dealers to improve their overall operations and to implement initiatives that strengthen the relationship between new car and truck dealers and the members of the communities they serve.


Release Date: June 29, 2016
For more information contact:
John White, CADA President & CEO 905 940-4959

New Car Dealers

Dealership in Focus: Langley Chrysler

Delivering Exceptional Experiences

It’s emblazoned across the dealership’s boardroom wall: “Our inspired team will lead the industry by providing exceptional experiences.” This vision is born from the staff and inspired by the leadership team, and is clearly on display throughout the dealership. In an effort to create exceptional shopping experiences for customers, Langley Chrysler begins with creating an exceptional working experience for employees.

In many workplaces, limited interaction between staff from different departments is common. Langley Chrysler took this challenge head on. One look at the ‘staff room’ instantly demonstrates the dealerships desire to create a special work environment. The warm atmosphere contains multiple cooking options, flat screen TV’s and leather upholstery that is reminiscent of a classy restaurant rather than a traditional staff lunch room.

In addition to employees enjoying spending time in this environment, it has increased interaction between employees across all departments; service, sales, technicians and management. It has led to greater continuity across the dealership and added a unique dimension to the company culture. Just down the hall is a fully stocked gym, complete with cardio equipment, weight machines and flat screen TV’s. Individual lockers and multiple showers add to the amenities one would expect at your local gym. Even the staff washrooms are given the royal treatment, seemingly pulled from a Georgie Award winning West Vancouver home. The men’s room comes complete with a separate changing room akin to NHL team standards, with a spacious stall for each employee. You half expect to see numbered jersey’s hanging at each stall when you enter the room.

The behind the scenes employee areas are well appointed; the front facing customer areas are no different. The Service Department is an area of strength for Langley Chrysler, and management has taken dead aim at setting itself apart from competitors by offering superior customer service. A dedicated two person call centre is strictly for service clients, minimizing call-holding time and ensuring a quick and painless appointment scheduling process. Professional Service Advisors deliver a VIP service experience that encourages repeat customers. Two flat screen TV’s display ongoing promotions and discounts, and keep a live- time status on each customer’s’ appointments and expected wait times.

Customer comfort is a primary goal; complimentary refreshments, reading material, flat screen TV’s and Wi-Fi internet create a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere. The Langley dealership also offers a very popular courtesy shuttle and car rental service for those needing to reach another destination. The dealership showroom is friendly and welcoming, with a comfortable customer lounge offering refreshments, reading material and a flat screen TV. Every effort is made to ensure that the service experience is exceptional for each customer.

“For us to stand out from our competitors, and provide a memorable and exceptional experience for our clients,” says Michael Trotman, President and CEO of Langley Chrysler, “I don’t feel we can ask our team to do that, unless we do that for our team.” “Our inspired team will lead the industry by providing exceptional experiences.”

Langley Chrysler gets it right; support a healthy lifestyle, focus on corporate culture and create unique customer experiences. As dealerships continue to develop from mom and pop businesses into multimillion dollar operations, Langley Chrysler is leading by example, one experience at a time

View Points

On The Road Again: Oh the Places You’ll Go

 Oh the Places You'll Go

If you had told Mike Trotman’s 22-year-old self he would end up selling cars for a living, the younger alter ego probably would have laughed in your face.

“I had no interest in the auto business,” he says. “I was aware of all of the stereotypes… I wanted no part of it.”

After being named to this year’s Forty under 40 by Business in Vancouver, in addition to other awards, it’s unlikely many now would question the wisdom of the path his career has taken. At 38 years old, Trotman is the President and CEO of the Trotman Automotive Group (aka TAG) four dealerships with estimated annual sales of $120 million.

In some ways, you could say the auto industry, as well as UBC, are in his blood. Mike was born less than nine months after his father George (UBC BCom 1968) and mother Anne (UBC BEd 1967) opened up a used car business. By Grade 8, Trotman was working in his spare time at Langley Chrysler. He would wash vehicles, eventually working his way up to writing service orders.

“It was a big deal to have a car,” he says with a smile. “My dad said ‘earn some money, and I’ll sell you one at a good price.'” The lesson that nothing was going to be given to him stuck with Trotman, even as he drove around in his white Datsun B210.

After graduating with a BCom in 1994, he and a group of close friends decided they wanted to travel in Australia and Southeast Asia. To fund the trip, Trotman decided to try his hand at selling cars, knowing that he wouldn’t be getting any special treatment because he was the boss’ son. In fact, it was the opposite.

“It was how do I put this uninspiring, to go work for the sales manager. There was this attitude of ‘what does this young guy know.'”

He still remembers making his first sale. It was a Saturday, and there was a young man looking at a truck. The other sales staff hung back, in almost a challenge, waiting to see what Trotman would do.

“I just went and talked to him, established a relationship,” he explains. “And when I sold him that Dodge Ram I thought ‘I can do this, I can be successful.'”Rising to the top of the sales board wasn’t enough to dissuade him from his plans. When he returned from his trip six months later, he went back to selling, just as his father was contemplating retirement.

Although Trotman’s brothers Mitch and Brad are now involved in the business, at the time they were still in school and had other interests. Trotman worked his way through different departments at the dealership, before taking over all operations in 1998. At the time, that made him the youngest principal of a Chrysler dealership in Canada.

Ultimately, youth wouldn’t end up being his biggest challenge. In the late nineties, market share began shifting more and more quickly from domestic to Asian cars. There was also a corporate culture clash when Mercedes took over ownership of Chrysler, and in spring 2008, TAG purchased the Toyota dealership in Cranbrook. The global recession hit six months later, decimating all car sales, and then Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in April 2009.”It was a coin toss whether we were going to have a franchise or not, at two of our four dealerships,” Trotman says as a matter of fact. “But I had this quiet confidence that we would make it through.”

He cites creating a strong leadership team, with a clearly defined long-term vision, as the key to making it through that turbulent period. Not one of his 140 employees left, despite the uncertainty.

Trotman married his wife Cindy in 2002, and often draws upon her background in counseling psychology in business. Their daughter Hannah was born in 2003, and their son Ty followed two years later.

The Trotmans have always loved children, and the idea of giving back. They are now looking forward to establishing a foundation with a focus on pediatrics, as well as continuing to lead the way with solid business practices at TAG.

With a laugh, Trotman says it’s too soon to start planning the next generation of succession. He’ll only say that each night when he tucks his children in, he tells them to “dream big” advice his 22-year-old self would have probably appreciated too.

Canadian Business

Trotman Automotive Group: Pursuing Opportunity, Building Success

Canadian Business

Growing up in the automotive industry, it seemed only natural that Mike Trotman would someday be a part of the car world himself, but that wasn’t always the case. Trotman, today the President of Trotman Automotive Group, at – University of British Columbia, Trotman was ready to pull away from the car industry.

“I didn’t enjoy the reputation and perception that went along with the car business,” Trotman Said.

Along brothers Mitch and Brad, Trotman was born into the automotive industry or, more commonly, his father’s line of work. Trotman and his brothers were involved at several of the family stores, enjoying a number of low tier tasks like car washing and car detailing. It was a learning experience for Trotman and his siblings. Years later, the three brothers have built up a brand across British Columbia known as the Trotman Automotive Group.

Steady Hand Takes the Wheel

Trotman’s change of heart about the car industry would come when, following graduation, he had planned to travel with friends and, in needing to raise funds, a return to the car business was required. There was an opportunity to sell cars at the flagship Langley Chrysler and, as Trotman humbly put it, the opportunity went well.

“I excelled quickly as a young guy and led the ‘infamous’ leader board”, Trotman explained. “I loved meeting people, meeting clients, and the whole process of ‘the art of the car deal,’ the negotiation.”

But still dissatisfied with the reputation that coexisted with the car business, Trotman also felt those around him were uninspiring, and again began questioning this career path.

Another opportunity would present itself the following year when Trotman’s father would step away from Langley Chrysler, leaving the business in his son’s hands. Under the new direction, a combination of the right attitude and experience had customers inspired, and the business grew.

“After I had about three or four years’ exposure to the dealership and its business model, I determined it was something I wanted to really dig into, get involved with, and take over,” Trotman said. “I thought I could bring a new competitive edge to the business, being an educated professional, and really focus on delivering an exceptional experience to our clients and to inspire through that experience to gain their trust, building our business around that.”

British Columbia Expansion

In 2003, Trotman and his two brothers decide to further expand their family brand. The company added its second store, Comox Valley Dodge, and began rapidly implementing its recipe for success, instilling its best in practices to reenergize the business affairs of its newest acquisition. It was only natural that growth would follow such worthwhile change.

“When you acquire a new store, you are taking on a different set of values and culture that exists within that store and its marketplace,” Trotman explained. “In each of the three cases when we have grown with our stores, those have all been challenging situations, but the underlying theme, and why we have been successful in whatever the challenge is, is that we have a very solid and strong long-term vision and a set of values that we all believe in, that are shared and developed collaboratively by our team, guiding us through our business practices.”

As such, Trotman Automotive Group’s first store, Langley Chrysler, formerly a mid-market, bedroom community dealer, has grown to become a nationally recognized dealer.

In 2008, Trotman again expanded its reach, this time adding Alpine Toyota of Cranbrook, B.C., a marketplace which offered not only exposure into the Kootenay region, but also the increased portfolio of being involved with an import brand, Toyota. That emphasis on import was again recognized in 2009 when Trotman Automotive Group added its fourth store, Abbotsford Hyundai.

“We’ve grown from a Chrysler store during about $22 million to $24 million in annual revenue, to today as a group of four stores, regionally diversified across the province and with brands, with sales in the $110 million range,” Trotman acknowledged.

It marks impressive growth over a short time, only adding to this in the future.

Empowering employees

While many in the automotive industry have struggled in recent years, Trotman Automotive Group, however, has seemingly bucketed that trend. Accordingly, the modest Trotman attributes the success of the company to his staff.

“We have had a real strong focus on people, on finding the best people, on hiring them, on retaining them, on inspiring them, on encouraging them to dream big, and to perform at the top of their game,” Trotman said. “It is about delivering an exceptional employment experience to our team who will then be inspired to deliver an exceptional purchasing experience for our clients. By focusing on that, we can overcome any challenge that comes our way.”

Trotman Automotive Group prides itself on building its reputation in the communities in which it does business. With a desire to become an industry leader, Trotman Automotive Group judges its success by its recognition and regard in these areas.

Competing in a marketplace that is “like a commodity-based business,” Trotman Automotive Group strives to offer its clients added value through its knowledgeable employees and industry experience. The company lives by its philosophy of creating an atmosphere when its employees feel valued, trusted, and respect. Trotman said, “When we can create that environment, that’s where the magic happens and where things can really come together.”

According to Trotman, the company wants to grow organically to become a dominant player in its respective marketplaces. Trotman Automotive Group strives to become a market leader, both as a group and its individual stores. When the opportunity presents itself, as it has in the past, Trotman Automotive Group will pursue further expansion, in terms of both more stores and more brands.

“We will continue to acquire stores in markets that we like brands that make sense, that we are proud to represent” Trotman said. “We will apply our formula of rapidly implementing our culture, our leadership, our values, and our people to be able to turn these stores into peak-performing dealerships.

“We will continue to grow as long as we have great people that want to help in partnering that growth.” CBJ

The News

Abbotsford Chrysler Purchased by Trotman Brothers

Chrysler Purchase

The Trotman Auto Group didn’t have to go far for its latest acquisition – just across the street.

The owners of Abbotsford Hyundai in the Fraser Valley Auto Mall have acquired Abbotsford Chrysler, effective October, 2011.

The group, operated by Abbotsford brothers Mitch, Mike and Brad Trotman, started with the family business Langley Chrysler. They added Comox Valley Dodge in 2003 and diversified to an import brand with Alpine Toyota of Cranbrook in 2008.

They bought their first hometown dealership in 2009, acquiring Don Quast Hyundai and changing the name to Abbotsford Hyundai, then added the fifth dealership this fall.

“We grew up here. We know the town, and we like the town,” said Mitch Trotman, who will operate the group’s two Abbotsford dealerships.

He said the Fraser Valley Auto Mall, where the Trotmans now own two of eight dealerships, is a unique place to shop for a vehicle.

“Where else, in the Lower Mainland, can you get 40 acres of cars in one spot?” he pointed out.

Trotman, the president and CEO, was named to the prestigious Top 40 Under 40 list chosen by Business in Vancouver magazine.

See article

Auto Dealer

Cover Story | Young Guns A Blazin’

Training Key

The next generation of leaders in Canada’s Automotive retail sector are taking their space. We introduce you to four reasons our industry has a bright future.

Mike Trotman, who heads up the Trotman Auto Group in British Columbia, (which includes Langley Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep, Comox Valley Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep, Alpine Toyota in Cranbrook, and Abbotsford Hyundai) was exposed to the industry at an early age. “My father was a dealer,” he says, but Trotman was adamant about pursuing another career path. “I was drawn to business, so I enrolled at the Sauder School of Business [at the University of British Columbia] and took a degree in Commerce.”

Trotman also had a desire to travel, so where an opportunity came to live and work in Italy, he jumped. “It was an invaluable experience,” he says. “I was able to see things from a completely different perspective, I think it was one of the best things I ever did.”

Upon his return home, he knew he’d been bitten by the travel bug, but like many students, needed a way to fund his wanderlust. “I decided to work at the family dealership and got into sales. I sold cars for six moth and actually discovered that I enjoyed it; the aspect of meeting people, finding a vehicle to fit their needs, and working with them through the process.”

In fact, Trotman liked it so much that after six months he was at the top of the leaderboard when it came to sales at the dealership. It was also around this time that he began to consider other career options beside the corporate world.
“I’d almost convinced myself that the car business wasn’t for me, yet the more I took a look at the industry and listened to my father, I discovered that perhaps there was more to this than I originally thought.”

Trotman’s father had started out on the corporate side, taking a job with Ford out of school and becoming a district manager. “But he had an about turn,” he says. “Going over dealers’ statements, he saw the opportunities available on the entrepreneurial side and opened a used car store.” Over time the store grew to become an AMC franchise, then a Volvo store, a Fiat dealer, and ultimately Langley Chrysler.

While Trotman did pack his bags after his sales stint and traveled, the idea of exploring opportunities in the car business was growing stronger. When he returned home this time around, he made a plan to get to work.

“An opportunity on the management side came about and I took it, with no regrets,” he says.

Auto Dealer

The Match Game

Match Game

The best salespeople always find the right vehicle for their customers. Far from pushing options that customers might want, good upselling can go a long way fostering long-term relationships and securing repeat business.

Out in British Columbia, Brad Trotman of the Trotman Auto Group sees a similar scenario with UConnect hands-free technology. It’s not standard on many Chrysler vehicles, yet TAG’s flagship store, Langley Chrysler orders a lot of cars, vans, and trucks with it. Read more.

“Many of need to stay connected today,” Trotman says “and that includes when we’re in our vehicles. Because of legal and safety requirements we can’t hold our phones when we drive, so hands-free has become essential. The UConnect option might cost $750 but the majority of customers will consider it.”

Another area where savvy dealers are seeing potential for upgrades is through factory authorized accessories, though some readily admit they have barely scratched the surface.

Mike Trotman, Brad’s brother and CEO of Trotman Automotive Group, says that in many respects motorists today often view their vehicles as an extension of themselves, much like their smartphones. “Think about it,” he says, “most of us have some customized element to our hones, whether it’s a unique case or perhaps a unique ring tone. It says something about our character and our personality. Vehicles are often viewed in much the same way.”

He refers to the group’s in-house accessory shop as TAG Customs where buyers can add any number of upgrades, from bug deflectors and tonneau covers on trucks, to suspension life kits, replacement wheels and tires, spotlights and exhaust systems. With enthusiast customers, especially those into muscle cars, or off roading, accessories are the norm rather than the exception, he says.

At TAG customs, customers can choose to have the parts installed and in many cases maintain the vehicles original factory warranty, an advantage over many aftermarket vendors. However, both Brad and Mike state that while each individual accessory adds to the overall cost of the vehicle purchase, the purpose behind TAG Customs isn’t to max out the profit on each vehicle sold.

“We aren’t focuses on how many options and parts we can add,” says Brad, “it’s about providing customers with what they want. If the customer is happy, regardless of what they have spent with us, then we’ve done our job. We want to make the sales experience fun and enjoyable. Buying a car is a huge commitment for most people and it’s an emotional experience, so why not make it a good one?” he says.

If you do, chances are they’ll come back again. “Remember, when consumers are buying and or financing a vehicle, it’s likely going to be with them for a long time. And put into that context, you have to think if you would rather have a few hundred dollars a month and stick with the no frills base model or spend a little more and get the options you want, especially when you’re going to be in that vehicle day in and day out for three years or more. What ultimately is going to leave you more satisfied? It’s a bit like walking into Starbucks and just ordering a plain black coffee; are you really going to be happy with it?”