When Paul Coffey took off his hockey skates for the last time, there was near certainty that he would succeed at whatever followed his illustrious 20-year NHL career.
It was a surprise when he walked away from the game altogether though, as a future in coaching or hockey management seemed like an ideal fit for the all-star defenceman.
But his priorities were set – he wanted family to take precedence, and that meant staying close to home. In 2004 he unveiled his next steps, opening his first car dealership, Paul Coffey Bolton Toyota. It was easy to see the connection – Paul Coffey earned the respect of hockey fans across the country, so entering a business that relies on respect and trust to succeed made perfect sense.
The realization of this dealership led him to expand his business by opening Paul Coffey Kia Bolton in January 2011. But, things didn’t go as planned in the initial months.
“The sales weren’t doing so well, and they needed someone to come in and take charge,” says Marwan Sabagh, general sales manager of Paul Coffey Kia Bolton. At the time Sabagh was working at a different dealership, but when this opportunity presented itself he couldn’t say no.
“Everyone loves new challenges,” he says.
“I reorganized the sales department; hired and trained new staff; and implemented standard operating procedures. Those first two months were challenging, but the sales began to go up steadily from that point.”
Of course, having the Coffey name attached to the dealership was a good place to begin despite the slow start. Sabagh says it gives people something to connect to.
“So many people come in and start sharing about how they’ve met Paul Coffey before, and they’re eager to buy from here,” he says. And, eager to meet the man himself. “Customers will come in here with their hockey sticks, pucks, pictures…anything they have, for Paul to sign. And we’ve had fans from the States and Europe actually mail in hockey jerseys with a return slip so Paul can sign it for them and send it back.”
It might seem like much for one man who’s simply trying to run a business, but Sabagh says Coffey loves the interaction with customers and the community. He ensures his staff is always engaging with people in the showroom, following-up with anyone who’s come in, and taking part in community events.
“He’s a great person to work for,” Sabagh says. “Last month we were involved with the local food bank. We set up a BBQ and lots of people came to donate food. If it’s a worthy cause, we love to be a part of it.”
Written by Travis Persaud