At Expressway Ford, everyone is family. Staff and customers alike join in the close-knit family culture and friendly atmosphere within the brand’s two dealerships in New Hamburg and Stratford, Ontario. Here, all visitors enter into a welcoming, warm and modern environment.
The focus on family stems from the company’s ownership. President Ray Brenneman entered the automotive industry as a mechanic in 1954. He quickly moved through the ranks, soon becoming the service manager. In May 1983, Brenneman, alongside his wife Nelda, decided to found Expressway Ford in New Hamburg.
Brenneman’s two oldest sons, Dwight and Doug, began working at Expressway Ford at its inception. Dwight focused on the parts and service side of the business, and currently holds the position of Dealer Partner, Service Operations. Eldest son Doug took over accounting roles, and now works as Dealer Partner, Secretary Treasury. Youngest son, Michael, joined Expressway Ford full time in 1992 . Michael started in sales and now holds the position of Dealer Partner, Sales Operations.
The New Hamburg facility began as a small dealership on Bleams Road, with very little space for display vehicles. Yet due to the business’s success, the Brenneman family was able to expand their facilities. In 1990, Expressway Ford relocated to a new, larger facility at the corner of Highway 7 & 8 and Peel Street (1554 Haysville Road). In 1997, the Brenneman’s renovated the New Hamburg dealership, greatly expanding their service department.
In 1998, the previous Ford dealer in Stratford closed its doors. Ford Motor Company began looking for a new dealer to open a new facility. After a period of time and discussions with the Brenneman family, Ford Motor Company decided on a satellite dealership in Stratford under the Expressway Ford brand. The Stratford Expressway Ford dealership opened in 2001.
Although the Expressway Ford Stratford is a satellite operation, it offers the same high-quality sales, parts, and service experience as its sister dealership in New Hamburg. In order to continually exceed customer expectations, the Brenneman’s are currently planning to renovate the Stratford dealership to Ford Millennium Facility Standards. The renovation project is expected to begin in the fall of 2014.
In May 2013, Expressway Ford completed extensive renovations of their New Hamburg facility. The completion was commemorated with a 3-day Grand Reopening celebration, offering visitors the opportunity to experience a Ford Road Test Drive, join in a community barbeque, and meet with the President of Ford Canada, Dianne Craig. The celebration also commemorated Expressway Ford’s 30th year of success in New Hamburg.
Expressway Ford’s two locations, New Hamburg and Stratford, operate under the same vision: to provide owners of Expressway Ford vehicles an ownership experience that is so good, they will buy again and tell others how great it was to own an Expressway Ford vehicle. Each dealership maintains the same level of sales and vehicle services that Ray Brenneman believes to be an essential for customer satisfaction.
“At Expressway Ford, we believe in bringing honesty, integrity, and fairness to every customer interaction,” says Ray Brenneman, “We put people first, before any financial or business considerations.”
The Expressway Ford New Hamburg facility is about 17,000 square feet and contains two spacious showrooms and 15 service bays. The dealership sells both Ford and Lincoln new and pre-owned vehicles.
The Stratford location covers about 10,000 square feet of enclosed space, contains one large showroom and 9 service bays. Expressway Ford Stratford sells new Ford vehicles exclusively, and carries an inventory of several pre-owned models.
Combined, the two dealerships employ about 50 team members, the very first of whom joined during the first facility’s establishment in 1983. Expressway Ford holds several staff appreciation events throughout the year.
Ford Motor Company has noted Expressway Ford’s success over the past 30 years, presenting them with numerous Chairman’s awards, including most recently the 2013 President’s Award.
Expressway Ford –Behind You All the Way
The Brenneman family believes that Expressway Ford’s reputation is based on the quality of service they offer their customers. The dealership’s vision is to create customer experiences so good; buyers will tell others about their purchase. This belief – represented as the company service mandate: “Express: Behind you all the Way,” is so ingrained in their business philosophy, it’s prominently displayed on their rear-view mirror decal.
In May 2013 Expressway Ford contracted Juan Montoya of J.M. Port Design to create several branding messages that reflected the family culture of the dealership. These images were installed onto the walls of the dealership. The result was several aesthetic placards stylistically promoting Expressway Ford’s core beliefs, entitled: “Express…Our Mission,” “Express…Our Story,” “Express is…Community,” ”Express…Always Cares,” “Express…Reliability,” and “Express…Quality.” These decals line the walls, reminding staff and visitors alike of Expressway Ford’s philosophies.
As put by Dwight Brenneman, “The branding initiative helps describe and define Expressway Ford’s foundations. It truly does give the customers an idea of who we are and what we offer.”
The Expressway Ford team remains active in both the New Hamburg and Stratford communities. As part of the Drive 4UR Community Ford program, Expressway Ford offers visitors the opportunity to test drive and experience a new Ford vehicle at various charity events. For each test drive, Ford Motor Company donates $20.00 to a local charity or non-profit organization. To date, Expressway Ford has sponsored and hosted 16 Drive 4UR Community Ford events, completed over 2300 test drives, and raised $46,000 for local non-profit groups and Children’s & Youth sports teams. The dealership also actively encourages community involvement and participation through its sponsorship of local sports teams and events.
The dealership’s staff and management know that the initial sale is only the first step in building long-lasting relationships with each customer. At Expressway Ford, the staff intend to make each experience so enjoyable, customers will return again and again.
“We’ve had customers come from places as far as Cambridge, Woodstock, and further on a regular basis for our sales and service experience. We’ve also been able to facilitate pre-owned sales across Ontario due to our online presence,” explains Dwight Brenneman.
“Our customers determine our success,” Ray Brenneman adds, “We owe it to them to consistently provide superior service and support them in all their automotive needs.”