Budds’ Group of Companies: Celebrating A Half-Century In The Car Trade

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After 50 years, Budds' Jaguar Land Rover is still their core brand. Photo Budds' Group of Companies

Brothers grow business over 50 years. 

A love affair with British cars sparked brothers Chris and Darryl Budd to open Budds’ British Motors in September 1973. 

Now, 50 years later, Budds’ British Motors has flourished into the Budds’ Group of Companies, with 13 brands, 10 stores and about 600 staff. The dealerships are located in Oakville, Hamilton and Kitchener. 

Both Chris and Darryl owned MGs and wanted to open a shop that would provide the kind of good customer service they expected. “Behind my dad’s back, we went to British Leyland and applied for a franchise,” recalls Chris Budd, Vice President of Budds’ Group of Companies. “We were young and green.”

Their dad, Stuart, was already in the car business. “Cars were in our blood from an early age, and our dad was excited to own his own dealership,” says Chris. With a shoestring budget, the Budds took the plunge and rented a small facility in midtown Oakville. “I can’t imagine how my dad looked at us boys and thought we could do it, but we did. We never failed him.”

Starting small, working hard

It was a lot of hard work, and a third brother, Terry, joined the group. Chris is careful to point out that the apostrophe in Budds’ comes after the ‘s.’ “There’s more than one Budd,” he quips. 

Chris attributes the success of the company to starting small, working hard, and staying away from taking on too much debt. “We didn’t have anyone handing us anything on a silver platter.” Budds’ even managed to grow during downturns, whether a full-blown recession or just a dip in the economy. They started buying real estate so they could build better-quality stores and own them outright.

“We’re pretty careful with which brands we take,” he notes. “We like brands that really respect the dealer, and are trying to do the right thing for the customer.”

At one point, Budds owned a couple of Saturn stores that were eventually closed. “We bought the GM store in Oakville because it was available, and that’s how we wound up with the GM brands,” says Chris. “We worked through that very tough time.”

Their oldest brand is Jaguar Land Rover. Austin, MG and Triumph left the country but evolved into Jaguar, which evolved into Land Rover. “That is what we started with, and it’s still our core brand.”

Loyal customers

Although it’s not sure what the 50th-anniversary celebrations will look like yet, one thing’s for sure—there will be festivities for both customers and staff. Some staff have been with Budds for 20 and 30 years. “We just treat people the way you want to be treated,” notes Chris. “Respect them and they stay. It’s the only way to get loyalty.” He adds that customers are loyal to people that have been there for a long time. 

Now, there’s a new generation coming along. Terry has a daughter and a son working in the family business, and Chris has a daughter helping out. “It’ll certainly be a challenge for the females to take over the male-dominated industry,” he describes. “But it’s getting better, things are changing.”

In fact, that’s why the industry is a source of fascination. “I love this business, it continues to evolve,” explains Chris. The biggest change is already happening with electric vehicles. “We’ve had combustion engines for all our time in the business, but in two, three, four years, it’s going to be maybe 50 percent electric. That’s a huge change.” 


Categories : Dealerships, Editorial
Tags : Management


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