Each year, the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association and iA Dealer Services honours three dealer principals — out of 3,200 potential candidates — to receive its prestigious Laureate award.
The Laureate is like the Academy Awards of the retail auto industry in Canada. It is the highest and most exclusive honour bestowed upon a dealer, and there is always a great deal of anticipation and speculation about who the winners will be.
To earn a Laureate is no easy feat. Typically, this award is given to dealers who have made significant contributions to their businesses and communities, and who have demonstrated an outstanding level of dedication throughout their careers.
Launched in 1995, the Laureate Awards fall into three categories:
- Ambassadorship, for extraordinary service to the community and the industry
- Business Innovation, for initiatives that significantly enhance performance or broaden the scope of business for new car and truck dealers
- Retail Operations, for outstanding achievement within an individual dealership
Fifteen dealers are selected as finalists in three categories, and an independent third-party administrator manages the nomination process in a confidential manner at arms’ length from CADA.
More than 3,200 CADA member dealers from across Canada — as well as manufacturing member company staff, supplier company staff and association executives — are eligible to nominate dealers for a Laureate.
A three-phase process is used to evaluate candidates. The Ivy Business School at Western University selects one Laureate in each of the categories. The winners are dealers whom the judges feel best reflect the spirit of the CADA Charter.
The 2021 CADA Laureates are:
- For Ambassadorship, Mike Stollery, AutoIQ Dealership Group, Barrie, Ont.
- For Business Innovation, Michael Rawluk, AutoCanada Inc., Edmonton, Alta.
- For Retail Operations, Michelle Melendy, Western Kia, Corner Brook, N.L.
On behalf of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, I would like to salute all of the nominees and finalists of the 2021 Laureate Program and offer my sincere congratulations to the winners for their exemplary performance and achievement.
The Laureate awards reflect a level of excellence and leadership to which all dealers, managers and staff can aspire. Over the years, I’ve paid close attention to the Laureate winners and have been inspired by their tireless work ethic, their innovative ideas, their unwavering dedication and passion for the industry, and for their commitment to serving their communities.
I’m pleased that the Ambassadorship is one of the three categories, as dealers are often not recognized by the public for the many ways in which they give back.
In addition to providing transportation solutions, dealers support a wide range of local events, children’s sports teams, service clubs (Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary), parades, street festivals, toy drives, food drives, arenas, hospitals and non-profit organizations.
Dealers accept co-op students from the Automotive Business School of Canada, Seneca College, Centennial College and other post-secondary schools, helping students gain practical work experience in their chosen professions.
Dealer principals serve on hospital boards, municipal committees, automotive association boards, chambers of commerce, and on regulatory bodies, such as the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council and the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.
Dealership employees man volunteer fire departments, coach kids’ sports teams, get involved in local politics, and volunteer at food banks, hospitals, seniors’ centres, YMCAs, churches and youth groups. They do so because they care, and because they want to make their communities better.
The next time you purchase a vehicle or have repair work performed at a new car dealership, please take a moment to think about how that business and its employees are supporting and making a positive difference in your community.
Michael Eatson is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is president of Peterborough Volkswagen. This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to tada.ca. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.