A Surrey Auto Dealer Caps a Successful Career
As sales of new vehicles have been steadily rising, the number of sales jobs in Canada’s automotive industry are nearing a record high. The first few months of 2013 saw employment growth in the sales sector increase 6.1% compared to last year. Throughout British Columbia, new car dealers directly employ over 15,000 people in auto careers, paying substantially more than general retail work and almost $100 more per week than average wages at automobile dealerships across Canada. To illustrate the contribution of B.C.’s auto dealers to the provincial economy and particularly to social development work in local communities, we need look no further than Surrey auto dealer Sherrold Haddad.
As the owner of the Flag Mitsubishi in Guildford, Haddad’s dealership has long been famous for its 3,200-sq.-ft. Canadian flag flying from the world’s largest free-standing flagpole. After “at least 40, maybe 50 years” in the business, the 86-year-old Haddad decided towards the end of last year it was finally time to sell his dealership to focus on his community development projects.
“There is no doubt that Sherrold is one of the legends of the B.C. automotive industry,” said Blair Qualey, president of the New Car Dealers of B.C. (NCDBC). “He combines true business acumen with a give-back attitude and was one of the leaders that shepherded the development of local car dealers being the philanthropic hearts of their communities.”
Haddad was born in Syria and set up shop in Guildford in the early 1970s after operating Chevrolet dealerships in Winnipeg and Medicine Hat. It was an exciting time of social change and dynamic economic growth in the Lower Mainland, when sales of appliances, new homes and cars soared as baby boomers moved out on their own and started families. The successful business became known as Flag Chev Olds in the late 1980s after he spent over $250,000 purchasing and moving the giant flagpole and flag that towered over the central plaza at one of B.C.’s greatest world events, Expo 86.
A recognizable landmark on Surrey’s skyline, the flagpole stands 85.85 meters tall and is such an attraction that the dealership began producing informative brochures. Demonstrating the good business sense necessary for rewarding automotive careers, his flagship enterprise became Flag Mitsubishi a few years ago when General Motors ran into financial problems. Haddad had three dealerships until recently and he will maintain his interest in Downtown Nissan in Vancouver.
The NCDBC’s recent economic report found auto dealers in the province raise or give contributions totaling $13 million a year to community charitable or social causes. Haddad has generously supported numerous causes, and was a key leader in raising over $10 million for the Children’s Health Centre that opened at Surrey Memorial Hospital in 2001. Haddad’s career is an inspiration for anyone in car sales training. After 35 years in the business, he said: “I love this business. I always have. I love coming to the dealership and seeing my customers, some of whom have been with me for the entire 35 years I’ve been in the car business.”