Longtime family dealership enters new era

Jason Kerr
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It’s the start of a new era for Mann-Northway Auto Source Ltd and auto dealer Robert Mann.

Robert Mann stands in front of the family dealership in Prince Albert.

The Mann family, who have been selling cars in Prince Albert since 1914, recently announced they were selling a majority stake in the Mann North dealership in Prince Albert to AutoCanada Inc.

“A lot of the reason is that we want to have some changes just to have a better marketing perspective on the industry in general,” Mann says.

By selling to AutoCanada, Mann says they gain connections to 40 other auto dealers across Canada, which will help with online marketing.  He says the industry is changing, and having an online presence is vital to survival.

“A lot of people know what they want and they’re researching online.  Some of the stats I’ve seen (say) upwards of 90 per cent of the people know what they want when they come through your door.”

Mann says the sale won’t change everything.  He still maintains a 15 per cent stake in the dealership, and still oversees the day-to-day operation.

“I’m still involved in both stores (Mann North and Saskatoon Motor Products Ltd.) as the dealer of the store.  It’s just essentially a portion of the store that we’ve sold off, but with that comes a lot more opportunity for both myself and the family to continue in the automobile industry.”

Mann’s grandfather Andrew started the family business when he began selling Buick vehicles in 1914.  After a fire gutted the original dealership in 1957, Mann Motors relocated to a new site, which is now the home of the Mann Art Gallery and E.A. Rawlinson Centre.  They expanded to their current location in the north end of the city in 1998.

Robert’s father, Roger, who ran the business for many years, was awarded Prince Albert’s Legacy Award in 2012.  Roger was unavailable for comment on the sale.

“Hopefully, we continue to grow the business from here,” Mann says.  “With a larger group being involved with us now, obviously there’s a lot more resources.”

Those resources involve both financial help and practical experience.  Mann says the dealership will undergo a $1.5 million upgrade this summer, and he’ll be able to rely on the online expertise of some of the more experienced dealers in AutoCanada.

“I think there’s lots of opportunity when you get into a bigger group,” he says.  “Two heads are better than one as they say.  Well, in this case, 40 are going to be better than the one or two.”

Mann says it was somewhat difficult to make the sale, but in the end he says it was in their best long-term interests.  He says they’ve had some of their most profitable years lately, but it was time to make the change.

“When you get a whole bunch of people working for a common purpose as far as marketing cars across the country, that allows me to have a broader range of experts and knowledge to glean from.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, AutoCanada, Mann North and Saskatoon Motor Products Buick Mann Art Gallery

Geographic location: Mann North, Canada

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  • JiM
    March 17, 2014 - 23:03

    of interest.