Company History

Company History

1964 ...... Doug Dunlop moved his family to Lethbridge and opened a new Ford dealership. It all started with a temporary sales lot on 3rd Avenue South and a temporary Service Department on 9th Street South, in downtown Lethbridge. These were very basic beginnings, but planning and preparing for a new building on the 3rd Avenue South location had already begun.

1965 ...... In the spring of 1965 the new Dunlop Ford building was nearing completion when a terrible fire destroyed the temporary Service location downtown. This was a major setback for such a young company and an experience Doug Dunlop would never forget.

................. One month later, in June of 1965, Dunlop Ford celebrated at the Grand Opening of the newest full service automotive facility in Southern Alberta. Costing 360 thousand dollars, this facility was ten thousand square feet in size and had a staff of 33. The Grand Opening was one of the most successful in the history of Lethbridge with over 7500 people dropping in to take a look at the premises.

1970 ...... The population of Lethbridge was now 40,000, and growth came very quickly. It soon became necessary to relocate to a larger building. A five acre property on the very edge of the city, on the corner of 16th Avenue and Mayor Magrath Drive South, was chosen as the new site.

1971 ...... The official opening of the current premises on Mayor Magrath Drive South took place on January 18, 1971. A 24,000 square foot building was state of the art and two and a half times larger than the former location. Dunlop Ford became the largest Ford dealership south of Calgary, featuring a six car service drive in area, a 2,400 square foot showroom and a customer waiting area with coffee and a color T.V. Staff numbers were now up to 55 people.

1972 ...... A new concept in automotive financing was emerging and Dunlop Ford was the first in this area to get involved. The new concept was "leasing". Doug Dunlop Leasing was started that year with a small number of Econolines for Bill's Electric in Coaldale. Today Doug Dunlop Leasing has over 550 active leases.

1982 ...... Doug Dunlop earned the prestigious honor of becoming Time magazine's "Time Quality Dealer" for outstanding dealership operations and community involvement.

1990 ...... Dunlop Ford was running out of space again. A Body Shop building was purchased on 2nd Avenue South in downtown Lethbridge and our detail department took over the former Body Shop space at the dealership.

................. In keeping with our mandate to support the community, Dunlop Ford made a significant donation to the University of Lethbridge Turcotte Hall building fund.

1993 ...... Randy and Gary Dunlop branch out to their first non-Ford franchise, purchasing the local Toyota dealership. By this time, Doug Dunlop was confident and honoured to pass on all of the operational responsibilities to his sons with Randy focusing on Ford and Gary on Toyota.

1998 ...... Ford was getting out of the heavy truck industry and sold their interests to a division of Mercedes Benz / Freightliner. Mercedes established a new brand called Sterling. Since Dunlop Ford had been active in Ford heavy trucks, the Dunlop's purchased the Southern Alberta Sterling franchise. A new 36,000 square foot building was built on the corner of 9th Avenue and 43rd Street North.

1999 ...... Dunlop Sterling opens in January and in April the offical Grand Opening ceremonies are held.

................ Dunlop Collision Center is moved to its new location at the new Sterling site at 9th Avenue and 43rd Street North.

2001 ...... The Dunlop's sold the Toyota dealership. A management restructuring took place and now Gary was managing the day to day operations at Dunlop Ford and Randy was at Dunlop Sterling.

2002 ...... The company founder, Mr. Doug Dunlop passed away on January 18, 2002. A devoted family man and friend, his legacy of community and industry involvement continues to live on.

2003 ...... Dunlop Sterling acquired the southern Alberta Western Star franchise and became Dunlop Sterling Western Star in October. Dunlop Sterling Western Star Truck Centre quickly became one of the largest volume heavy truck dealerships in Canada.

2005 ...... Dunlop Sterling Western Star expanded operations to Medicine Hat after purchasing T.j. Mechanical.

................. Also in 2005 Dunlop Ford added 3700 square-feet of office and showroom space. The Grand Re-Opening took place on January 26th, 2006.

................. In memory of their father, Randy and Gary donated $50,000 to The Lethbridge College to create the Doug Dunlop Memorial Award, a permanent endowment for apprentices in either Automotive Parts or Service Technician programs.

2008 ...... In January, Dunlop Sterling Western Star in Medicine Hat began a 1.5 million dollar expansion. Renovations were completed in December. Prior to completion, Mercedes gave notice to all North American Sterling Dealers that they were discontinuing Sterling Truck production in March of 2009. Despite this significant setback, the two Dunlop Sterling Western Star dealerships continue operations selling only Western Star products.

2009 ...... GM and Chrysler go into bankruptcy and receive financial aid from Canadian and U.S. government. Ford refuses bailout money. Dunlop Ford is proud to be part of the Ford family and looks forward to a bright and promising future in the automotive industry.

2010 ...... Dunlop Ford earns Ford of Canada's President's Award. The President's Award is Ford's highest dealership honour and is given to only an elite group of dealerships who demonstrate outstanding achievement in sales and customer service.

2011 ...... Dunlop Ford receives the Diamond Club President's Award from Ford of Canada. This exclusive honour is given to only the top ten percent of President Award winners.

2012 ...... Dunlop Western Star becomes the second largest volume Western Star dealer in Canada. Dunlop Western Star in Lethbridge begins a major $2.5M expansion and renovation to the Body Shop and Service Department.

............... Dunlop Ford receives the Diamond Club President's Award from Ford of Canada for the second year in a row.

2013 ...... In October, Dunlop Western Star celebrated its newly expanded facility with an open house.

............... Dunlop Ford receives the Diamond Club President's Award from Ford of Canada for the third year in a row.

2014 ...... Dunlop Ford Celebrates 50 years in business with a Charity Barbeque. 200 people attend and $2500 is raised for The Rehabilitation Society of Southwestern Alberta.

............... Dunlop Ford receives the Diamond Club President's Award from Ford of Canada for the fourth year in a row.

............... The Dunlop Group of companies earns Top Employer South from the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board.

2015 ...... Dunlop Ford receives the Diamond Club President's Award for a 5th years. Dunlop Ford is the only Alberta dealer to earn the award for 5 consecutive years.

............... The Ford F150 hits a milestone. 50 straight years as Canada's bestselling pickup.

2016 ...... Randy Dunlop receives a Bachelor of Applied Arts Honorary Degree from the Lethbridge College recognizing his commitment to the College and the community.

2017 ...... Gary and Randy Dunlop receive the 2017 Alberta Dealer Excellence Award. From over 360 franchised auto dealerships in Alberta this premier automotive award recognizes the individual dealers who operate with a proven history of excellence in business acumen, industry association and community involvement. The Dunlop’s are proud and honored to become members of an exclusive club of the industries finest dealers.

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