Motion Group of Companies
For Nick and Peter Grande, co-founders of the Motion Group of Companies (MGC), it was a shift in mentality that brought the company to a new level of profitability. By entering the accessible vehicle market and making wheelchair-friendly cars its primary focus, MGC has secured its place in a healthy niche market. This month, The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Nick Grande about how the business shifted from a typical automotive leasing company into the targeted success that it is today.
A family success
The story begins in 1984 with the family as owners of as very successful car franchise in the local community. The volatile automotive industry, however, left constant struggles to stay relevant—and inevitably prompted a change. It was one key observation that took the business down a profitable path.
“My father noticed a trend that consumer brand loyalty was fading,” Grande explains. As quality of vehicles from major automotive companies were fading, leasing became an increasingly popular business. “The market was leading the customer to a more finance-based style of buying a car,” continues Grande, “so he broke his ties to the OEM and opened one of Ontario’s first independent leasing companies with no brand association, Grande National Leasing Inc. (GNL)”
It was in 1993 when funding to increase accessible vehicles became available, and MGC jumped at the opportunity. “We became one of the first leasing companies to finance accessible taxis in Ontario,” adds Grande.
MGC provides high quality accessible vehicles. The MV-1 is built for its purpose from the ground up, and is not affiliated with any brand. Rather, MGC focuses on distributing a solid, reliable vehicle built by Vehicle Production Group (VPG). This way, customers only have one company to deal with, making the entire process easier.
Today, Motion Group is the epitome of success, with an established portfolio in excess of $10 million, and has released more than $250 million in product since 1984 and has become a leader in the accessible vehicle market.
Key relationships bring success
MGC has experienced substantial growth, and depends on a highly trusted team of experts to ensure processes run smoothly. “We employ our own in-house legal counsel,” says Grande, “as well as an experienced accounting department, operations managers, and well trained portfolio managers, grouped with strategic partnerships for outside services like audit, marketing, distribution, and financing.”
MGC has thrived because of these relationships, which contribute to its knowledge and fair pricing. “Our longevity is a testament to my father’s values,” says Grande with pride. “In some cases we are selling to third and fourth generation customers.” MGC’s customer base is particularly loyal, and recognizes that the MV-1 is one of quality. “On the consumer level, they know they can buy a car that will last for 10 to 15 years.
That faith of customers, particularly for a product so connected to someone’s quality of life and peace of mind, is obviously the secret to MGC’s continued success. Grande has connected to something that has given a tangible benefit to its consumers.
Surviving recession and finding opportunity
Particularly in recent years, the automotive industry has been hard hit. This, however, seems to be of little concern to MGC, who has soared through relatively unscathed. Grande notes with a chuckle, “The nice thing about being establishing in 1984 is that we’ve been through three major recessions, so we have the best practices and experiences to not only survive a recession but to find growth and opportunity in the shrinking and emerging market. We’re really happy to say that we have experienced growth in every one of these recessions.”
MGC attributes its growth in difficult times to three factors, which Grande explains. “First, there is a deep understanding of the commercial and the consumer market giving us the ability to segment these markets. Commercial leasing, consumer leasing, and the biggest one, which will be a big part of our future, is the accessible vehicle market. Secondly, experience helps makes the smart decisions for our customers. Our customers come to depend on us. And third are our best practices. We have spent a lot of time creating comprehensive sets of business processes through all parts of our business.”
Strategies for the future
MGC saw the future of an automobile business in flux and created a strategy that it felt would best serve the needs of its clients and the company. MGC “unbundled” the traditional dealership model and outsourced point of sale dealers for accessible vehicles. MGC choose The MEDIchair franchises across Canada to be the exclusive sellers of the MV-1 in the Durable Medical Equipment market, and MGC is currently assisting a group of 22 dealers in learning the car business while improving the sales standards that people are used to.
“MEDIchair head office and each individual franchisee has shown a remarkable commitment to becoming quality accessible vehicle dealers,” Grande said, believing that this commitment, along with MGC’s best practises, will set a new quality standard in this growth market.