Bill Harbottle has great respect for the way Bob Saunders and his family did business as a Subaru dealer on the old Island Highway.
Harbottle, the president of the Jim Pattison Auto Group which purchased the dealership this summer, is also well aware that the family’s involvement in the community extended far beyond the sales and service that happened on the lot.
“In terms of our involvement in the community and the initiatives that (the) Saunders were involved in, we’re definitely interested in continuing and maintaining those,” he said. “Through the discussions we’ve had with Dave Saunders, there will be a lot of these programs that we will partner or jointly participate in, in conjunction with the Saunders Family Foundation.”
Jim Pattison Subaru will support Comfy Kids – a vehicle is supplied to families in need with a child undergoing medical treatment in Vancouver – and the annual charity golf tournament that raises money for the foundation, among other things, Harbottle confirmed.
“Our general philosophy is that we do believe in giving back and we like to support initiatives and causes in the communities in which we operate,” he said. The Pattison way is to provide support in a way that benefits the most in need or the broadest number of people, a style that rather mirrors the philosophy of the Saunders family. “That’s a philosophy we have and practice throughout the automotive group,” Harbottle said. “We do that with our dealerships in Victoria, but Saunders have always been big supporters in the western communities and that’s where we will continue to focus our efforts.”
On the automotive side of things, he said it’s tough to argue with the fact the dealership has come off three of its best years ever. But plans include expanding the pre-owned vehicle business and growing the service department to be able to provide faster turnaround times for customers.
“We’re going to convert two bays in the service department that are currently used for washing and detailing to technician services.”
More attention will also be paid to what Harbottle calls the “digital business,” that is, addressing the fact that many people do their initial research online.
An expanded finance department, helped by the “economies of scale” this large company enjoys, will see more people employed in Colwood, he added.
“It’s exciting for us because we’ve acquired a real solid business; good people, good reputation, long-term employees that are committed to the customer. So it’s easier to step into that situation and sort of provide the resources to build upon.
“We will, in time, continue to grow the business, whether it’s through satellite locations down the road in Victoria or who knows what. Our main business is in Colwood and the western communities, but there’s lots of room for growth.”