Brandin Wilkinson, 31
Managing partner, Woodworth Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram
Achievement: After becoming part owner of the dealership in 2013, he grew sales volume 61 percent and tripled net profits.
Brandin Wilkinson, 31, doesn't believe in luck, but concedes that he has occasionally been in the right place at the right time.
Consider the uncommon route he took to his first job in the auto business -- selling cars at a General Motors dealership in rural Manitoba.
On a day off from his job as a welder, building 400-barrel oil tanks, the then-22-year-old took his girlfriend's car in for service. While "BSing with the salesman," Wilkinson said he noticed that four of the showroom's six sales desks were dark.
"I have no idea where it came from," says Wilkinson, "but I said, "You know, I could fill one of those offices for you.' Two weeks later, I was hired on as a salesman, and I didn't know anything."
Nine years later Wilkinson is managing partner of Woodworth Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram in Kenton, Manitoba, population 180.
Making the jump from the GM dealership -- where he rose to general manager -- to the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles store involved more of what some might call luck. Three years ago his father-in-law was at a junior hockey game and struck up a conversation with another fan, Don Carter, Wilkinson's current business partner. That meeting led Wilkinson to visit Carter at his store -- about 25 miles from the GM dealership. The two talked for two hours.
"He offered me 20 percent of the company right out of the gate," he said. "I was 28 at the time."
Later Wilkinson acquired another 30 percent of the dealership.
In the three years since Wilkinson has been managing partner, Woodworth's volume has increased 61 percent and its net profit 244 percent -- with help from a satellite dealership in nearby Shoal Lake, Manitoba. In 2015, Woodworth sold 214 new and 180 used vehicles.
Wilkinson said the key to Woodworth's success is low-pressure and lots of information for customers.
"I'm big into self-development," Wilkinson said. "I'm not a believer on selling off price, but I'm a huge believer in selling off yourself."
The dealership's radio ads don't mention price, but do talk about customer experience.
"We're your prototypical small-town dealership," he said. "We live off of our repeat referral business here. Man, just stick to your roots and be who you are and show them who you are."