After 37 years, the owner of Algoma Chrysler, George Farkouh, has officially turned the business over to a family friend and the new owner, Wayne Legge, owner of Manitoulin Chrysler.
The deal was officially signed on Sept. 1, with an official gathering of family members and the new owners in front of the dealership in Spragge on Sept. 6. The sale blends both franchises and greatly increases the inventory, with the names remaining the same.
The new business has dealerships in Mindemoya on Manitoulin Island, McKerrow, Elliot Lake and Spragge.
Both men have strong beliefs in their business philosophy of good customer service by experienced staff.
“Dad (Owen) started with Manitoulin Chrysler in 1989, and I started working with my dad 15 years ago, and 10 years ago, I purchased it from my dad,” said Wayne Legge.
Farkouh was approached earlier this year about selling the business that Legge was interested in buying.
“We got the opportunity to do this acquisition,” Legge said. “This (the purchase) was very good because we’re a family-run dealership, and family and a small town is everything in a dealership, and George is the exact same way, so it was the exact same way with the fit of the dealerships."
He said Manitoulin Chrysler has about 27 employees while Algoma has 25, and the numbers will remain the same. Many of the employees with both businesses have been there for many years with accumulated experience from vehicle makes and new vehicles coming online.
Farkouh called the relationship between the two families “friendly and harmonious.”
“There are two things that make a business, and it’s not the owner; it’s the customer first and then the staff. Those are the most important elements in a business,” he said. “We are delighted we have built up a customer base.”
His dealership has dealt with the highs and lows of the mining industry and eventual closing of the mines that led to the creation of Elliot Lake becoming a retirement community. George recalls and has dealt with the difficult times, having served as Elliot Lake mayor from 1988 to 2006 while maintaining his dealership’s operation and expanding.
“I’m so delighted the business will live on and that staff continues to perform here,” Farkouh added.
Wayne Legge said rumours about the sale had its own impact on the employees at both businesses about what the sale would mean. Those concerns were alleviated from assurances that nothing would change through the sale.
The sale will see the new trade-in inventory accessible to customers grow to about 100 and the new vehicle inventory to about 200.
“When I got into the car business, it was due to an investment in the car business, and then as it went on, I ended up having to go in and run it,” Owen Legge recalled. “When I got in to run it, (Wayne) has always been there beside me. He’s a better manager than I was ever.”
In the future, Farkouh will be called in to assist with sales when the local dealership needs him.
Wayne Legge quipped that Farkouh's wife Louise will contract the local dealership when she wants a break from her husband, who is well known for his volunteer work in Elliot Lake. His latest commitment is working with the newly formed Elliot Lake Historical Society.