Auto Service World
Feature   October 28, 2014   by

Staying ahead of the curve

Forward-thinking shop owner wins the Ontario NAPA Autopro of the Year award.


Forward-thinking shop owner wins the Ontario NAPA Autopro of the Year award.


By Sarah Voigt

John Ford knows the business of automotive service is changing.

So he makes sure his business, Main & Market Autopro in Ridgetown, Ont., changes with it.

His ability to find his niche in a competitive and challenging market was confirmed at the Ontario Autopro Convention in Collingwood this weekend, when his shop was one of three given the new designation of “Gold Club Member” for their commitment to excellence. He shares that honour Eldon Ingram Ltd. in Stratford, Ont., and Winchester Automotive Service in Winchester, Ont.

The “Gold Club,” created for this year’s competition was reserved for the top shops in the province and each of the three top shops went home with a special plaque.

In addition, and more impressively, however, his shop was named the 2014 Ontario NAPA Autopro of the Year.

“It feels really good to win this award. We’re thrilled to be the NAPA Autopro of the Year. Everyone here at Main & Market is really excited.”

Almost 25 years ago, John and his team made the decision to turn their five-bay operation into a NAPA Autopro, and it’s a change he doesn’t regret.

“NAPA Autopro is very diligent in staying ahead of the curve. They need us to succeed on a shop level in order for them to succeed as a brand, and they recognize that by giving so many tools we can use to improve our businesses.”

To earn the title of Ontario’s NAPA Autopro of the Year, Main & Market outperformed more than 130 NAPA Autopro locations throughout Ontario.

The top shop award is a highly regarded honour for service centres within the NAPA Autopro network, and it takes more than just impressive sales figures to be number one. Martyn Johns, the NAPA Autopro banners coordinator for Ontario, led the team that selected this year’s winner.

“To choose the Autopro of the Year, we look at the business as a whole and rank each shop on a variety of criteria. Sales within each of our product categories is certainly important but we also look at customer service, brand visibility, program participation, records of warranty claims, marketing, and facility appearance – just to name a few,” said Johns. “All the Gold Club Members were eligible to be the NAPA Autopro of the Year, and after getting to know John during this process I feel confident that he was the right choice.”

This year, Autopro added a new screening element when deciding its top shop.

“One strategy we used to determine a winner was a mystery phone call. We anonymously called each Gold Club shop to see for ourselves how they stack up when it comes to friendliness, professionalism, helpfulness and availability. It was the impressive mystery phone call to Main & Market that really helped John and his team edge out the competition.”

Ford says Autopro’s positive brand image is a huge marketing tool for his company.

“Being a NAPA Autopro shop gives us a competitive advantage in the industry for sure. For a time I served on the NAPA Autopro National Business Development group and saw all the work NAPA puts in to forming these programs. When Robert Hattem, Simon Weller, and Alain Masse take the time to sit with 12 Autopro owners from across Canada to listen to our concerns and ask our advice on how to serve us better, I think it really reaffirms their commitment to ensuring our success. We proudly implement all the tools that Autopro provides.”

In striving for excellence, training is paramount. John agrees much of his success comes a result of his commitment to training.

“We’re all signed up for the NAPA Excellence online training program here, and I’ve attended all the available Pro Shop management training. It used to be held in Chattam but unfortunately there’s not a lot of training available in our area anymore. Now it’s offered in Woodstock, Waterloo, and a few other places in southwestern Ontario, but it’s well worth the travel!”

Looking to the future, John wants to keep growing.

“We’re in the planning phases now, but eventually we want to keep growing our operation here in Ridgetown, Ont. by expanding our current location.”

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