2015 MDA Alberta Dealers of Excellence—Koch Brothers and Greg Ducharme
—Both Second Generation Winners
Both winners of the 2015 Motor Dealers’ Association of Alberta’s (MDA) Dealers of Excellence not only took over family businesses but also continued the family tradition of being recognized by their peers as being tops in their industry. Brothers David, Duane and Rick Koch, Koch Automotive Group (Edmonton) and Greg Ducharme, Ducharme Motors Ltd. (Bonnyville) won the awards in the metro and non-metro categories respectively. The Koches’ uncle Murray Koch and Ducharme’s father, Marcel, are both past recipients of the awards.
“The Koch brothers and Greg are well-respected members of our association and our industry,” says MDA president Denis Ducharme. “They exemplify excellence in the way they deal with their customers, their employees and their communities, and it shows in their results.” The winners have other things in common: they are Ford dealers who have earned multiple Ford presidents awards for their sales performance and customer satisfaction ratings, they own more than one dealership and they operate their businesses with a combination of modern business principles and a “small family business” feel.
The MDA awards the Dealer of Excellence annually to one metro dealer from Calgary or Edmonton and one non-metro winner 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. “It’s great to be recognized by your peers. At the first MDA convention I ever went to, my dad won the award—I thought it was so cool and I remember how proud I felt of him,” says Ducharme. Rick Koch concurs. “We’ve seen so many great dealers win this award over the years and were very excited to get the call. It’s validation that what we’re doing is right.”
Profiles of individual award winners follow.
2015 Alberta Dealer of Excellence (Non-metro):
Ducharme Motors in Bonnyville was established in 1959 by Archie Ducharme with his three sons, Omer, Larry and Marcel. Over the next several decades, Marcel became the sole owner of the family run Ford dealership.
Greg started working in the family business before he could drive the shiny new vehicles in the showroom. “My first job was dusting and reorganizing the brochure rack and then stocking and cleaning the parts room. Washing cars soon followed and then, when I had my driver’s license, I was doing dealer transfers.”
In 1991, Greg started working in sales, and by the mid-nineties he knew that this was a business he wanted to grow and pursue. By the end of the century, he had taken over the dealership from his father and became the third generation dealer principal. He credits his father and cousin Denis Ducharme for imparting much business wisdom. “I really learned the importance of expense control and of treating your employees as you would want to be treated from my dad. He also taught me the importance of being a trustworthy partner with suppliers, banks, manufacturers etc. From Denis, I really learned the importance of product knowledge, how to deal with fleet customers and, most importantly, how to use the information provided to us by the manufacturers to the fullest.”
In 2001, he purchased a branch location, Cold Lake Ford, moved the dealership to a new location in 2005 and then purchased Bonnyville and Cold Lake Chrysler in 2006.
Greg believes there are four key ingredients to operating a successful dealership: operate with sound business principles, embrace change, really like people and focus on keeping employees and customers “more than satisfied,” pointing out that, “customers have more options than they ever have and recruiting and keeping staff has never been more difficult.”
Greg’s dealerships invest heavily in training (and always have before it became more the norm) and he shares the numbers with staff to educate them better on performance factors. Greg is proud of establishing an employee pension plan for his staff. Ducharme Motors offers extended service hours, remaining open until3:00 a.m. in order to service the vehicles of their large oilfield-related fleet customer business so they’re ready to get back out into the field. Little touches like washing customers’ vehicles have been a mainstay at the dealership for decades.
In 2010, Greg joined the MDA board of directors following in the footsteps of his father who had also served as a board member. In 2013, he became the MDA board chairman and presently serves as senior past chairman until 2016. Greg also served on the Canadian Auto Dealers Association as the MDA director for the past three years.
He has found the MDA and CADA board experience extremely valuable. “Unless you’re on the boards, you have no idea what’s going on in the background with industry and government. You learn how important associations are and how much they do to protect your business and effect positive change.”
Ducharme Motors is a significant supporter of many community organizations with Greg saying he likes to focus on initiatives “… that bring a new experience or opportunity to town, will dramatically impact people’s lives or anything to do with kids’ sports.” Having this kind of impact gets to the heart of what Greg enjoys most about being an auto dealer. “The sky’s the limit on the growth of your business and your ability to make a difference on your community, the people who work with you and the customers you serve.”
Winning the dealer of excellence award is not new to the Ducharme family. In 1992, Marcel was recognized by his peers as the Time dealer of the year.
2015 Alberta Dealer of Excellence (Metro):
David, Duane and Rick Koch
Koch Automotive Group
In 1965, Les Koch founded Edmonton’s Koch Ford Lincoln (KFL) with his brothers Murray and Loris, and their uncle Frank. Only four years later, Les passed away, leaving behind four sons aged 6-16. Murray took over as dealer principal and went on to build a successful and well-respected business. With auto industry blood running in their veins, all four Koch boys (Dwight, David, Duane and Rick) pursued careers in the car business, starting from the ground up washing cars, working in the shop and progressing to sales and sales management.
Dave worked with his uncle Murray at KFL from 1975-1993, eventually to general sales management. Duane worked at KFL from 1976-1985 and left to start a video rental business, which he ran from 1985-2003. Rick decided to gain perspective from other operators and started selling vehicles in 1984 for Motor Village Group, moving on to management positions at Hugh McCall’s Southpark and Freedom Ford, where he joined his older brother Dwight who had moved there after working in sales at KFL. The boys didn’t see each other too much as they were busy with their careers and young families but whenever they got together, they talked about owning and operating a dealership as a team “someday.”
Someday came in 1993 when Ford awarded them a new dealership franchise point in Leduc, and DK Ford was born. What started in a rented gas station with six service bays and a two-car showroom (a new building was built in 1995) with 12 employees (many who remain with the company today) has flourished into three dealerships in modern, renovated buildings employing 222 employees who generate over $200 million in sales.
In 2003, the Koch brothers purchased KFL from their uncle Murray, himself a previous dealer of excellence award winner, who had always stressed the importance of giving back … to employees, customers, the industry and the community. His nephews took his advice to heart, supporting a long list of charities and community groups and serving on a myriad of industry boards and committees. Both David and Duane were members of the MDA Charity Classic committee (which raised millions for Special Olympics), Duane served on the MDA board of directors from 2008-2013 and Rick currently serving his second term as board chair of the Automotive Business School of Canada.
In 2005, the group purchased Landing Ford, renaming it Koch Ford Athabasca and appointing Greg Kociuba, who had been with DK Ford since inception, as the operating partner. Today, Rick oversees the Leduc operation, with Duane and Dave running KFL in Edmonton (Dwight retired five years ago). “It’s a great, multi-faceted business,” says Rick, who still enjoys sharing in the euphoria of a customer’s new vehicle purchase.
No matter the ups and downs of the economy, the Koch brothers have remained true to their business philosophy of making customer and employee satisfaction the number one priority. “We knew that if we had dedicated happy employees that they would then, in turn, produce satisfied dedicated customers, and the rest would fall into place.” Beyond perks like employee pension plans, social activities and incentive trips, Rick explains that they show employees how much they are valued by “empowering them to make decisions that cost us money.” The benefits of this approach extend beyond financial success, “We have a business we can be proud of and are thrilled to pass on to the next generation.” Four of the brother’s sons are currently working in the business. To achieve success in this industry he tells them you have to, “be hard working, give back, love cars and be nimble to meet the demands of an ever-changing industry.”
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:
Greg Ducharme: 780.201-3892
Rick Koch: 780.980-5561