Auto Service World
Feature   July 1, 2015   by Steve Pawlett

Dorval Auto Parts 2015 Jobber of the Year A Family Values Success Story

Investing in people is the key to success in business, according to the owners of Dorval Auto Parts, a Bestbuy Distributors shareholder that operates three stores in the Quebec region: Dorval Auto Parts, St-Henri Auto Parts, and Sources Auto Parts.
It was back in 1984 when brothers Nick, Chris, and Andre Dimopoulos opened up their first store under the name Sources Auto Parts in Pierrefonds, Quebec, with the assistance of family friend Johnny Pappas and their father, Dimitrios Dimopoulos. In 1988, cousin Alex Trichas joined the three brothers. After just five short years in the business, under the tutelage of Johnny and the senior Dimitrios, the four partners were ready to expand their operation, and acquired St-Henri Auto Parts. In the same year, another opportunity presented itself when the four partners opened their third location in Dorval, which has today become their main warehouse and head office. The company has gone from five employees in the beginning to nearly 70 employees today.
“This early expansion allowed us to be strategically positioned across the island of Montreal, allowing us to gain greater market share, but we were still the newcomers to the industry with a very short-term reputation to fall back on,” explains Alex Trichas.
“We were very young, ambitious and striving for success,” he adds. “We looked up to our mentors, Johnny and Dimitrios, and allowed them to guide us in establishing remarkable ethics and business values.”
“The constant changes of the evolving automotive industry were often challenging, so we continually came up with new ideas to ensure the most success year after year,” explains Nick Dimopoulos. “We believe in focusing on our resources, on retaining our employees, and growing our customer base to increase our sales. We believe these are the core elements for long-term success.”
Since its inception, the Dorval Auto Parts location has been renovated and expanded twice, in 2000 and in 2012. The most recent expansion added over 12,000 square feet to its warehouse facility. “This expansion has allowed us to invest in a larger number of product lines, as well as enhance our customer service,” says Trichas.
The St-Henri Auto Parts store also went through a renovation and expansion in 2007 to 10,000 square feet. This has enabled them to develop their paint department and expand their involvement in the bodyshop industry.
On February 1991, tragedy struck the family: Johnny passed away suddenly from a heart attack. “Although we had very little time with Johnny from a professional perspective, we felt blessed to have him as a mentor. For that, we owe a part of our success to him,” says Trichas.
Today, Chris Dimopoulos and Nick Dimopoulos are in charge of the St-Henri and Sources locations respectively. They oversee the stores’ operations and ensure a high level of customer service and satisfaction in their respective market territories. Andre Dimopoulos is in charge of developing and maintaining the operation’s IT (information technology) department. He oversees the software, computer systems, and e-store. Alex Trichas is in charge of administration for all three stores, and runs Dorval’s operations. Alex is in direct contact with the suppliers, ensuring customers get quality parts for a competitive price.
In 1995, Dorval Auto Parts joined Bestbuy Distributors Canada. “This partnership truly opened countless doors for us from both a professional and personal perspective,” says Trichas. “Bestbuy has allowed us to connect on a different level with top suppliers in the automotive industry, such as Promax, Castrol, Irving, Fram, Bosal, KYB, private label products, and many more. It is Bestbuy’s team that makes us proud to be part of such a great organization. Jeff, Karen, Jim, Doug, Bernard, and the rest of the team have become a part of our family and we couldn’t be happier.”
Trichas was a member of Bestbuy’s product committee from 2002 to 2005, which allowed him to connect with key vendors and suppliers and learn about and benefit from Bestbuy products. Alex was also a part of Bestbuy’s board of directors from 2009 to 2010. This enabled him to make chief decisions on Bestbuy’s behalf. “The experience was transferable to our business, which increased our knowledge of the automotive industry,” he says.
In 1999, Dorval Auto Parts became an AC Delco distributor. “This helped our business and provided us with the competitive advantage to succeed. In fact, in 2001, we won AC Delco sales performer of the year,” says Trichas.
“Joining AC Delco has provided us with OEM parts and Advantage parts. The AC Delco name is one of the most recognized names in the automotive industry, and we are proud to be working with such a reputable company. AC Delco offers the PSC and ACE programs for our customers, which includes online and on-hand training,” adds Andre Dimopoulos.
In 2010, Dorval Auto Parts partnered with PPG Paint to procure the tools it needed to cater to bodyshops. “In the upcoming years, we are looking for opportunities that will take our company to a greater level,” adds Chris Dimopoulos.
In addition to running a successful operation, the family members have turned their attention to fundraising for cancer patients. Seven years ago, they teamed up with Hope & Cope, offering to raise much-needed funds for ActivOnco, an innovative, highly effective, individualized exercise program that teaches cancer patients how to incorporate physical activities into their daily lives, both during and after cancer treatment. ActivOnco staff are conducting research on how exercise can prevent and/or mitigate serious treatment side effects, such as radiation fibrosis and osteoporosis.
“We wanted to give back to our community, and our good friend and long-time supplier Mel Peress proposed the idea of holding a walkathon in support of Hope & Cope,” explains Alex Trichas. Held each September at St. Maxime Park in Chomedy, Laval, the 2014 walkathon raised $72,000, double the amount raised in 2008, when the first walkathon was held. In fact, the combined seven-year total is an impressive $359,000. “This event has grown each year and it has enabled us to support Hope & Cope and the people they help in return. We would like to thank everyone who has donated.”
The Dimopoulos brothers and Trichas believe that investing in people makes all the difference. “Employee satisfaction and customer service are our top priorities, and always have been,” says Andre Dimopoulos. “We are always looking for ways to improve our customer service. Our employees range from office administrators to salespersons, counterpersons, warehouse dispatchers, part pickers, and drivers; each person represents a big investment in our business.”
“Our employees provide good customer service through how they listen to the customers, and the way they get to know them and the specialized needs of their business. Each customer has their own specific needs and our staff ensure they understand those needs so they can provide the best service to that customer,” continues Trichas. “We allow them to use their own judgment when it comes to any warranty issues. Our policy is to always go the extra mile to satisfy the customer, even if it means losing money. We teach our staff that this is our way. A customer is not a one-time client. We feel if we lose on this particular situation we will make it up in the long run.”
“Providing our staff a good working environment, along with the proper tools that they need, is important to their job productivity. We are grateful to our staff for their loyalty and the tremendous value they bring to our company,” adds Trichas.
Looking to the future, the four partners are showing no signs of slowing down. Their enthusiasm for the
business is still as strong as ever and they are looking forward to continued growth. “In the years to come, we would like to continue to expand to other locations in order to achieve greater market share and to better serve our existing and future customers. We are always looking to improve all areas in our company so we can be as productive as possible,” says Trichas. “We also want to extend a very special thank you to all our customers and suppliers – we are honoured to be their preferred supplier year after year, and look forward to growing our business alongside theirs.”
“You know, when you drill right down to the core, you will find the major keys to our success really started with Johnny Pappas and Dimitrios Dimopoulos as our mentors, and the strong family bond between the partners,” concludes Trichas. “That bond has grown to include our staff at our three locations, and that connection to people has naturally spilled over into our relationships with our customers and suppliers.”

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