Auto Service World
Feature   December 1, 2014   by Steve Pawlett

The Total Package

Andrew Malone Of B&B Dixon Automotive Is Counterperson Of The Year

“When it comes to customer service, Andrew Malone is the total package.”
“You get counter guys in this business that are personable but may not have strong computer skills, or they have great product knowledge or a great sense of humour or endless patience. Most often, they have this or they have that, but they don’t have it all,” explains Bruce Dixon, an owner at B&B Dixon Automotive. “Well, Andrew Malone has this and that.”
“I only deal with Andrew,” says Frank Baudo of Baudo Auto Service in Gormley. “The other counter staff at B&B are good too, but he’s the best. He never has a bad day, you know. He’s always up, and that’s not always easy to maintain in this business,” adds Baudo. “I was with Warden Automotive for 15 years until I moved up to Gormley. Then it was too far for them to make deliveries, so they introduced me to B&B Dixon and I never looked back. I’ve been dealing with Andrew now for 14 years. The service I get from Andrew and B&B is second to none. They are the only jobber I will deal with. I’m very comfortable dealing with Andrew.”
“He’s fast and efficient. No matter how difficult an item is to find, he will find it or find another solution,” says Hans Helleman of Helleman Tire Sales in Keswick, Ontario. “I’ve been 40 years in the business and he is definitely in the top three of my whole career.”
Mike McGraw of Mr. M’s Auto Service in Newmarket calls Malone simply “the best.”
“Andrew Malone does an amazing job. He knows his stuff and will go above and beyond every time,” says McGraw.
Malone, who worked his way up from a radiator and gas tank supplier in Nepean, Ontario, through to a jobber warehouse in Toronto, has been with B&B Dixon for 14 years now, following the buyout of Country Wide Automotive back in 2000 by Uni-Select. “At that time the word on the street was there were two counter people available that you had to have, but we were focused on one,” explains Barry Borovoy, one of the owners of B&B Dixon.
“Day one, when I sat down with these guys, I knew they were the right fit for me. They are exceptional owners and exceptional co-workers,” says Malone.
The Jobber News Counterperson Of The Year Award, sponsored by Epicor, was formally named the Abe Schwartz Memorial Award after the late owner of one-time Toronto jobber British Auto Supply, who worked behind the counter for more than half a century. The award is presented annually and honours the best among those who work on the front line at auto parts wholesalers in the Canadian automotive aftermarket.
“I don’t mind saying that in a lot of ways, he makes the three of us owners” – Bruce and Bill Dixon and Barry Borovoy – “feel a little redundant,” jokes Bruce Dixon wryly. “For example, we just had our company meetings with our four stores and he carried the ball for those.”
B&B Dixon Automotive, which has been in operation for 27 years now, added a third store in 2012 and a fourth store in 2013. “We opened these stores to provide better service to our customers,” explains Borovoy.
The company added its second store in Aurora in 1991. In 1996 the company moved its headquarters to its current location at 395 Harry Walker Parkway North in Newmarket. Over the next 15 years, B&B Dixon achieved a steady pattern of growth and development, adding the third and fourth stores in Keswick and Jackson’s Point in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Mark Dixon manages the Aurora location, Dave McNeill manages the Keswick store, and Grant Mayo manages Jackson’s Point. Originally a McKerlie-Millen Associate, B&B Dixon Automotive entered into a new association with Uni-Select in 1998.
“I don’t have a whole lot of experience in other business sectors, but I can’t imagine another sector being quite like this,” says Malone. “One minute you can be talking to someone who is so upset with a problem, then the next minute you are talking to the happiest guy in the world, and it’s okay, because that’s your job. No two calls are alike. You are trained and you want to help the person in distress and the customer that is so happy. You just want to ride that wave and keep them happy. That’s kind of the way that it works for me.”
A number of Malone’s family members also work in the industry. His brother, Daniel Malone, works at Uni-Select in IT – member connectivity, and his uncle, Adam Malone, is also at Uni-Select in purchasing. His father, John Malone, joined B &B Dixon as a salesman one year after Andrew. Another interesting connection is the fact that Sam Dixon, Bruce and Bill’s dad (and a former editor of Jobber News), and Sid Borovoy, Barry’s dad, were close friends in the industry.
“This was another thing that came together well for us,” explains Bruce Dixon. “This being a family business and Andrew having family in here too, it just marries right up in terms of us all going to war together.”
“It’s all about the customer here at B&B Dixon,” explains Malone. “Some people call just to order a part, some call because they have a problem, and some are just seeking information, while others are really just looking for an ear. Over time you develop friendships and relationships with your clients, so throughout the course of the day, everything is kind of the same yet different and there is always, always something unexpected. But at the end of the day, you feel you’ve done a pretty good job and that’s what counts, and then you get something like this award,” smiles Malone.
“I take it (Counterperson of the Year) as a real big honour, not only for me but for the company and everybody that I work with here. It’s because of guys like Barry, Bill, and Bruce and all the staff here that I get to do what I do. We all work together and that’s why we have so many happy customers. You do the best you can and you hope for the best,” adds Malone.
“Andrew gets our way and that is so important. We have a philosophy of how to do business and how to move forward in the industry and he gets our vision and we get his. It’s very seldom that there isn’t a meeting of the minds between us all,” says Bruce Dixon.
“We all started from the ground up and have done every job here, so we understand every aspect of the business. Our philosophy is always striving to be number one. We don’t want to lose our humility,” explains Borovoy. “When it comes to the customers, you don’t always know the pressure they are under, so they need to understand that they are dealing with people like themselves and not a machine that doesn’t care. We do care. That’s the biggest thing – that our customers understand that we do care.”
“When we go to a garage, the first thing we do is stick out our hand and usually have to convince the garage owner to shake that hand with their dirty hand. We just say, ‘Give me your hand, sure you have grease on your hand, I don’t care.’ We are in the parts business, we don’t walk around in suits. We are on their level always.
“The thing about this industry is that we still maintain that grassroots level,” adds Borovoy. “It really comes down to how you measure success. We measure success by the success of our staff and the success of our customers, and our success is tied directly to that. And we never look past that.”
“The thing we are most proud of is every single person that has worked here. We have employees that have been here for over 20 years. We have had a few veterans who have come from elsewhere, who have had a sense of relief at the atmosphere of this place a
nd of the way they are treated here,” says Bruce.
“We try to provide an environment where a person can thrive and be happy and not feel immense pressure. Sure, there is always pressure in this business, but we try to make it manageable,” he adds.
“I’ve been here 14 years but I still feel like the new guy because there are so many here that have been here a lot longer than me,” adds Malone. “A lot has changed in that 14 years.”
“The two main changes for sure are the knowledge base and access to more parts. Ten or so years ago, you had two tiers of books to go through for parts, and you’d have lower shelves under the counter and they would be jammed full of books too, and you still didn’t have enough information. When things started going online, like anything new, there were a lot of errors at first, just like there were errors in the catalogues. But generally you stuck with it, and now it has gotten a lot easier to get information. And it’s cleaner now, with fewer errors. And for those of us in the Canadian market, there are so many niche vehicles that people don’t catalogue. Americans don’t recognize it because they don’t sell it, so there are some vehicles where you have to know where to look,” explains Malone. (B&B Dixon uses the Epicor LaserCat 3 Windows-based electronic catalogue system.)
“Parts availability has also changed drastically. Fifteen years ago you’d be saying ‘dealer item only’ all day long. Now, the suppliers have expanded what they are offering so you can often go a day or more without saying ‘dealer only.’ There are parts for everything and ways to get them. One of the things we practice here is to never say ‘no.’ We have so many people with so much experience here that if you’re having trouble finding something, you just yell out whatever it is and one of us might know where to find it, and we generally do,” said Malone.
“No matter what, I am going to find the part I need, whether I have to go to a dealer or the Internet or into the U.S. to find it, I will get it. You want the customer to be served,” adds Malone. “For instance, I had a customer come in recently that was looking for a furnace switch. They had the part number and we obviously don’t sell furnace switches, but they have an account with us and they are a very good client and we sell parts here and he has a part number, so it’s easy for me to go with the part number and look it up. I have a litany of places where I can get it. So I tell the customer, if you want me to take care of this for you I will get it taken care of. You never say ‘no.’ Sometimes the requests you get can be challenging, but we can almost always find what they need, so there is a resolution and you can move on. It’s now rare the times that we can’t find what they need, and when it does happen, it’s a let-down because no matter what, you weren’t able to make that customer happy,” explains Malone.
“Everywhere you go, you will hear that the customer is number one, the customer always comes first, and that is true, because without them what do you have? It’s really how we work with them that counts. If they do well, we do well, so it’s a win-win,” adds Malone. “Our philosophy is to just treat people right. No one wants to have a bad day, nobody wants to have anything go wrong with their vehicle, and when people need your help, just help them the best you can.”

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