Greg Lefave does not come from rich auto stock.
The president of Superior Auto Group, which consists of two stores in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, grew up in a household with no family ties to the auto industry. He got his start out of college at Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
So how did he go from vacuuming out rental cars for a living to overseeing two stores that combine for 1,200 sales in such a relatively short period of time?
"I decided at a young age that I was going to work really, really hard," Lefave said.
After working at Enterprise locations throughout Canada, Lefave moved back home to Sault Ste. Marie to launch the dealership group. Its first major moves were to operate a Thrifty rental car store and a used car lot in the city, with the goal of eventually looking into new-vehicle retail as things became available.
That happened a lot sooner than anticipated, Lefave said. By 2012, he was able to buy a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram store, followed two years later by a Nissan dealership.
The stores have experienced complete turnarounds since being bought. The Chrysler store sold 359 units in its last full year before Superior bought it. In 2015, it sold 801. Likewise, the Nissan store sold 220 units in the year before being acquired. In 2015, it sold 447.
Lefave said he kept the stores' staff in place, instead only changing their vision to become volume stores. "All I did was take the chains off," he said.
Lefave takes a hands-off approach with his managers, though he also does all he can to get his employees as many opportunities to grow and advance as possible.
"I don't expect anyone to do anything I wouldn't do," Lefave said.
He said he hopes to give someone at his stores the same opportunity that he was given: the chance to make a successful living in the industry not through connections, but through hard work.
"I like giving people the opportunity to do the same thing I did," he said.
-- John Irwin