Written by: Doug Lunney for Winnipeg Sun
Rocky Dhillon was in England in 2004, pondering his career path when he realized it was time to switch gears and come home to Winnipeg.
There have been many twists in the road since then, but he’s finally where he wants to be — the vice-president of the family business — Dhillon Automotive Group, which celebrated a grand opening Wednesday.
“After completing law school in London I realized I didn’t want to go that route — it wasn’t in my heart,” Dhillon said from the impressive new store at 715 Pembina Hwy.
After earning his law degree, Dhillon had a stint working for his dad, Paul Dhillon, at Paradise Travel Agency, then he took his first job in auto sales at Midway Chrysler on Portage Avenue in 2005.
It was at Midway that he enjoyed success dealing with rural First Nation clients, but Midway ceased operation in 2007. That prompted a move to Orion Chevrolet, which only lasted several months before that GM dealer closed its doors.
Dhillon then joined the Dilawri Group of Companies, which is billed as Canada’s largest automotive group with 58 franchised dealerships. Meanwhile, his dad shut down Paradise Travel on Sargent Avenue, but then opened Can West Automotive across the street in 2005, along with his other son, Bava Dhillon.
It wasn’t long before Rocky started talking with his dad and brother about getting together in a larger family venture. When the MacIver family chose to shut down their Pembina location to concentrate on their new expanded location on Oak Point Highway, they figured the timing was right.
They purchased the lot in July and immediately began renovations to prepare for this week’s opening. Dhillon has five service bays and room for up to 90 vehicles, much bigger than their Can West lot.
“The visibility (on Pembina) is great,” Dhillon said. “It’s more accessible for a lot of people and it’s easy to find.”
There is a trend toward larger conglomerates buying up family-run car dealers in Manitoba. However, Dhillon, whose mother Barind and sister Sabrina also work with the Dhillon Automotive Group, says there are benefits to be part of a smaller operation.
“When you’re running a family-run business your heart and soul, everything you’ve worked for is on the line,” he said, adding the larger the store, the larger the overhead. “When somebody comes in we treat them like they’ve come to our house for a family barbecue.
“That’s our name out there and I take it very personally if there’s a complaint.”
Dhillon plans on letting his clients dictate what they offer on the lot, but they intend to have a wide selection of brands and models in stock.
TOY RUN CAR SHOW
The Manitoba Street Rod Association hosts its 24th annual Toy Run on Sunday (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) in the Revenue Canada Taxation parking at Stapon Road.
It’s a great event for a super cause. Entry is a new unwrapped toy with all the proceeds going to the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation.
Later, the Pony Corral Grant Park will also host its Farewell To Summer Sunday night cruise with hourly prizes from 3-9 p.m.
Wondering how your car ranks among the most-wanted models for trade-in value?
Here are the top five vehicles Rocky Dhillon, vice-president at Dhillon Automotive Group, would be willing to take in on trade.
1. Honda Civics (2008-12)
2. Dodge Grand Caravans (2009-13)
3. Dodge Ram trucks (2010-14)
4. Toyota Corollas (2008-12)
5. Chevrolet Equinoxes (2008-12)