Home Month and Year April 2024 Wood Automotive Group – Celebrating Business Excellence

Wood Automotive Group – Celebrating Business Excellence

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Just before breaking ground on the new Big 4 Motors – the first Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram store in North America located entirely on Indigenous land – dealership general manager Rob Coleman and leaders from the Wood Automotive Group took part in a special Pipe Ceremony. The ceremony, lead by Elders from the Tsuut’ina Nation, where the dealership is located, had a lasting impact on Coleman.
“During the Pipe Ceremony, the Tsuut’ina Elders emphasized the importance of Big 4 and the Nation members walking together to a better future. Not one in front, and one behind but walking together. To me that’s a key to reconciliation.”

Fast forward two years and with construction complete, Big 4 Motors is now open for business. After operating for 40 years from its cramped but friendly quarters on Macleod Trail, the new dealership located in Taza Park just south of the Grey Eagle Casino and Event Centre, has room to grow, providing even better service to its flourishing customer base. The 60,000-square-foot store on nearly eight acres is state of the art, with the technology and design that you can only find in a new facility.

“We congratulate Big 4 Motors on their new, larger location, representing the first Stellantis dealership on First Nations land,” says Paul Edmunds, the Western Business Center senior manager. “It’s the latest success for a store with well over four decades of experience in customer care and community involvement.”

The new store is customer focused. Floor-to-ceiling windows, free Wi-Fi, a children’s play area, large screen TVs, and according to many customers, the best coffee in town. The two showrooms have space for 12 cars and trucks. One features Jeep products like Wranglers, Grand Cherokees, Compasses and Waggoneers, and the second features Chrysler, Dodge and especially Ram pick-up trucks.
The shop floor has 34 service bays, five detailing bays and is ready for the EV revolution with an investment of more than half a million dollars on 12 charging stations and 12 service bays equipped with EV hoists.

“Wow” was the reaction from long-time customer Ray Redekopp, whose family has purchased more than a dozen vehicle from Big 4 over the years. “The service drive-through is fantastic and we even got a personal tour of the new store, but its always about the great people at Big 4.”

“They love the new beautiful warm environment and the technology we have which is a value-added to them,” says Big 4 service manager Brian Reed. “We get lots of great comments.”

And a larger Parts Department, stocked with tens-of-thousands of items, means faster service times according to parts manager Tim Church.

“In the old Big 4, we were stacking things on top of each other and stacking things on the roof. Now, when you bring your vehicle in for service, we’ve got the part and can fix it the first time you’re here.”

The new space is providing Big 4 with new opportunities to attract more commercial and fleet customers, wholesale parts clients and there’s a lot more room on the lot for pre-owned vehicle sales. The dealership is committed to growth.

For several years, Wood Automotive Group founder Gerry Wood and his team, including sons Rory Wood, vice-president parts and service, and Cailean Wood, vice-president sales and marketing, have been looking at the Taza Park development project between Tsuut’ina Nation and Candrel. The Group acquired a 95-year lease on almost 30 acres. The team strategically recognized that the Stoney Trail/Tsuut’ina Trail ring road would be a game-changer, providing easy and direct access from all quadrants of the city, and especially the under-served southwest.
“We are thrilled to have such strong community advocates at Taza,” says Taza Development Corporation president James Robertson. “And we welcome them to support our vision of setting ourselves apart as an innovative, standalone development within a culturally harmonious and modern setting.”

“When you see the plans the Nation has for the land and the setting around us,” says Coleman. “We’re talking about 4,000 homes in and around Taza Park. Big box stores are planned for close by, and already the traffic that we’re recognizing on the ring road is almost at par as what was on Macleod Trail.”

A loyal, dedicated and experienced staff is the backbone of Big 4, and all 75 employees participated in a special Indigenous awareness workshop before making the move to the Taza Park location including sales consultant, Larson Starlight, a member of the Tsuut’ina Nation.

“I feel a huge responsibility for bridging that gap in a professional way,” says Starlight. “Being from Tsuut’ina Nation and working for a non-Nation company. It’s very nice and very fulfilling because I know I’m helping bridge that gap.”

Coleman, Starlight and the Big 4 team are working with the Nation in what’s described as a reconciliation – providing opportunities for employment and business.

“There are so many opportunities for the Tsuut’ina people,” says Stalight. “For partnerships, for good professional relationships and for friendships. There are a lot of companies that work with Indigenous people, but they’re all away, away from Calgary, in northern Alberta, so far away from home. This is at home and it’s more accessible.”

“We’re excited to have people from the Nation working alongside us,” says Coleman, “We’re part of the community and we want to be a local supporter of employment and business opportunities.”

Coleman adds his gratitude to the Tsuut’ina people for all the support they’ve shown Big 4, noting that many Nation members are among Big 4’s best customers.

As a strong community supporter, Big 4 Motors recently signed a multi-year major sponsorship agreement with the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex and Chief Jim Starlight Centre for naming rights of the main ice arena.

“This comes back to a lesson our founder Gerry Wood learned from his father James,” says Coleman. “You have to give to get, and you can’t expect to get people’s business if we’re not prepared to give some support where needed and be representative of the community.”

Coleman and his Big 4 team are committed to the advice given by James Wood and by the Tsuut’ina Elders at the Pipe Ceremony when construction first began. Walking together, not in front and not behind. “We’re meeting new neighbours every day,” says Coleman and our goal is to have the Tsuut’ina people be proud of the businesses that operate on the Nation, and we want to be one of the proudest.”

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