2018 MDA Dealer of Excellence Award
2018 Alberta Dealer of Excellence (Metro):
Lexus of Edmonton
Bruce Kirkland’s career path to dealer principal of Lexus’s number one dealership in Alberta was definitely not the norm. Unlike most of his peers who work their way up from entry-level positions or are born into the business, Kirkland’s first job in the automotive industry was as general manager. Born in the small northern Alberta town of McLennan, Kirkland earned his Bachelor of Physical Education at the University of Alberta. After teaching, he went on to establish businesses in the property tax and offsite storage industries before joining Lexus of Edmonton in 2004. Being an outsider had its advantages, Kirkland contends, “It gave me a great background to look at the industry through a different lens.”
The dealership’s founder, Herb Anton, tasked Kirkland with a huge goal: to build Alberta’s first free-standing Lexus store from the ground up and establish a reputation for exceptional service. Mission accomplished – as evidenced by Lexus of Edmonton’s status as Alberta’s number one Lexus dealer and earning Lexus Canada’s Pursuit of Excellence award every year since it opened its doors in 2005.
Kirkland, along with general manager Matt Miller, personally delivers training sessions with all staff to ensure the team always practices the dealership’s three pillars:
1. Provide the best sales and service experience of any luxury store. Kirkland: “Always treat a guest as though they were a guest in your home. Be honest, fair and always have integrity. We work very hard at going the extra mile for our guests.”
2. Demonstrate a culture of respect and responsibility to guests, fellow employees and community. “Staff engagement and input is key to our success. Listen to them; the best ideas will come from the ground up.”
3. Be involved and give back to the community. I truly believe it is important to give back to the community, it’s extremely rewarding.
While Lexus of Edmonton supports a wide variety of charities and community organizations, it has a special focus on the arts. The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Edmonton Ballet and the Nina Haggerty Centre of the Arts have all benefited from the dealership’s generosity. In 2011, then Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel bestowed the Mayor’s Award to Lexus of Edmonton in recognition of its support of the city’s arts scene.
Kirkland served on several national Lexus committees and the boards of the Edmonton Motor Dealers’ Association and the Motor Dealers’ Association of Alberta. He also chaired the Edmonton Motor Show committee. Although his motivation was to give back to the industry, Kirkland says he benefited greatly from his involvement. “… meeting other dealers and learning from them. You also learn so much about all aspects of the industry and realize the impact we have on the community.”
Kirkland credits his team for the dealership’s success and for being the greatest source of his own personal satisfaction. “There are so many great things about being a dealer however the best thing, without a doubt, is to see people grow—to push and mentor them and to support them. I am so proud and honoured to have amazing people here at Lexus of Edmonton.”
Driven to Excel
Bruce Kirkland and Charles Longmate MDA Alberta Dealers of Excellence
September 27, 2018. The Motor Dealers Association of Alberta (MDA) has announced the recipients of the 2018 Alberta Dealer of Excellence awards: Bruce Kirkland (Lexus of Edmonton) and Charles Longmate (Windsor Ford, Grande Prairie) in the metro and non-metro categories respectively.
Their automotive career paths were completely different—Longmate was born into the business and started out washing cars while Kirkland had management experience but no automotive background before being hired as the dealership’s general manager. What these award winners do have in common are a passion for the business and an appreciation of the people they work with and serve. “Bruce and Charles have achieved success by demonstrating exceptional commitment to their customers, staff, industry and communities in which they do business. They are fine examples of the many excellent auto dealers we are fortunate to have as members,” says Denis Ducharme, MDA president.
After working in the education field, he started and built businesses in the property tax and storage industries. In 2004, Kirkland was hired as general manager of Lexus of Edmonton by founder Herb Anton who told him, “Bruce, it is no different from other industries: you build it. It is about the people, never forget it.” Kirkland heeded this advice, overseeing the build of the first free-standing Lexus dealership in Alberta and four subsequent major expansions, including a separate luxury pre-owned vehicle centre. The dealership has earned Lexus’s Pursuit of Excellence Award every year since it opened its doors in 2005. These achievements are a testament to the dealership’s now 130 employees, says Kirkland. “It is the team that makes your store successful. Anyone can have a nice building; it’s the people inside that count.” Kirkland also believes in giving back to the community; Lexus of Edmonton contributes to several charities and was recognized for its significant support of Edmonton’s arts community with the 2011 Mayor’s Award.
“I always wanted to be in the car business just like my father, Les Longmate, for as long as I can remember,” says Charles Longmate. In 1989, he realized his dream when he took the helm of the family’s dealership, having worked his way up through the ranks from his first job washing the vehicles. “I learned a lot of things from my father, but the one thing that stands out is that he told me that your employees are your greatest asset, so get the best ones you can.” This strategy along with a firm belief of “treat every customer and employee the way you would like to be treated,” has proven to be a recipe for success. The dealership is the number one Ford dealer in its market and has earned Ford Motor Company’s President’s Award 33 times and President’s Diamond Award three times, as well as being named the City of Grande Prairie’s Entrepreneur of the Century.
The MDA awards the Dealer of Excellence annually to one metro dealer from Calgary or Edmonton and one non-metro dealer from the rest of the province. The award criteria are business acumen, community involvement and association/industry involvement. The award candidates are nominated by their peers and the applications are examined by a panel of past award recipients who select the winners.
“There are a lot of outstanding dealers in Alberta. To be selected as one for this award is an honour and a humbling experience,” says Longmate. Kirkland concurs, “Acknowledgement from my peers for our team’s accomplishments is what makes it the most special.”
The MDA strives to serve the collective interest of its members and promote positive relationships with government, industry, suppliers, consumers and media. Members include over 90% of Alberta’s franchised new vehicle and heavy truck dealerships.
For presentation photos and comment:
Denis Ducharme, MDA President: 780-465-8850
For more information and comment:
Bruce Kirkland: 780-466-8300
Charles Longmate: 780-532-9550