At Blackstock Ford Lincoln in Orangeville, traditional values have led to futuristic innovations
A tour of the Blackstock Ford dealership in Orangeville is to see an operation in lockstep with proactive innovation and cutting-edge technology. Yet, talk to president Jim Carson and you will hear him also talk extensively about the past.
It’s not really that much of a contradiction, though. Carson is pointing out that Ford’s traditional mindset is what keeps it ahead of the game, today. For example, he will relate how Henry Ford was able to mass produce the Model T at a competitive cost for reasons other than his advancements in assembly-line functionality. One thing he did was save substantial amounts by taking the crate the rear axle came in, and using it as the frame. Flash to the present, where Blackstock has recently invested over $100,000 in new technology; including a new Hunter Hawkeye laser alignment system.
By spending the money, Blackstock technicians can set up alignment checks in seconds, rather than minutes.
Spring-loaded, adjustable clamping arms allow technicians to quickly attach the adaptors, since off-centered positioning has no effect on measurement accuracy.
The system’s patented clamping arms grip the tire tread instead of the rim edge, removing the worry of damaging expensive rims from metal-to-metal contact. Only a protective rubber ring at the base of the adaptor contacts the rim. The entire adaptor and target assembly weighs only six lbs., making it easy to handle and install. “It takes the guesswork out of the equation,” points out Carson. “As well, a $50 alignment check replaces a $150 alignment check” which benefits the customer.
Both Henry Ford’s thoughtful use of a axle crate and Carson’s investment in the Hunter Hawkeye are examples of forward thinking that allows Ford and its dealers to improve margins without compromising quality or pricing themselves out of the market.
Blackstock also has a state-of-the-art digital lathe that allows brakes to be machined while they are still on the car. Not only does that save labor costs, it also allows for a more precise job.
These measures are all part of the company’s BRIDGE philosophy; (B)oldness, (R)espect, (I)integrity, (D)ue diligence, (G)o above and beyond, (E)ntrepreneurship.
As far as Carson is concerned, the philosophy starts at the top. “One thing that’s different with Ford, is that it’s controlled by a family that doesn’t need the money. That means they can make real, ethical decisions that might not necessarily be made by a corporate board.”
Boldness is a trait that, once again, be traced right back to Henry. His willingness to experiment with new technologies made him a forerunner of the green technology movement; whether it was his original intention, or not. Not only did he successfully recycle a axle crate into a car, but also did you know that Kingsford charcoal was originally a byproduct of the left over steel and glass from the Ford factory?
As well, Ford was the one who patented seat foam made from soya, instead of the petroleum commonly utilized. The move to oil by manufacturers was motivated by the fact that oil, around $28 a barrel at the time, was cheaper than soya. Well, guess what? Oil ain’t $28 a barrel any more.
Respect and Due Diligence practically run hand in hand. Carson says one thing that must be respected is the restraints a customer has on his or her time and Blackstock makes a point of keeping on top of their customer’s vehicles to the point where they might be able to anticipate possible problems before the vehicle is brought to the dealership.
In a marketplace where government regulations can be severe, where every manufacturer is producing quality brands and customer savvy is at an all-time high, a dealership must show and demonstrate integrity. The days of the stereotypical, shady car salesman – thriving on the premise of buyer beware – are definitely a thing of the past.
As for going above and beyond, Carson has unveiled plans to renovate the Highway 9 premises to Ford’s Millennium standards, complete with a new Lincoln showroom. “The difference will be obvious from the outside. It’s a symbol to the community that we are committed to growth and change.”
Finally, from the perspective of entrepreneurship, Carson exemplifies a mentality of customer satisfaction and retention over making the quick sale.
“In business, you can be either a farmer or a hunter,” he explains. “A hunter gathers his food on the spot, where a farmer plants the seeds and grows his. “We like to take the farmer approach, not be a hunter and kill everything we can. The payoff is that we grow customer retention and loyalty.”
Written by Dan Pelton