“As the cars would come in for gas or servicing, I learned many of the different names,” Lally said. “At a young age I could spot a car driving in, and could recognize both the make and model.”
When Lally entered high school, his grand vision was ultimately to be in business. He recollected how he wanted to help make improvements at their family owned business and show his dad, Ray how to make more money.
I was very ambitious, I always wanted to be a Ford dealer even when I was a teenager, Lally recalled. I wanted to learn as much as I could about being a good businessman so I could help my dad grow the business he started.
In his later teenage years after getting his mechanic’s license, Lally continued to work with his father and kept his ears open for an opportunity to make his mark. That chance came when Subaru was just coming into Canada in the late 1970s. Following the automotive market closely paid dividends for Lally, as he was aware of the gas crisis at the time and recognized that none of the domestic automakers were making good fuel economy cars at the time.
“Subaru was just opening their offices in Vancouver the day I placed a call to them,” Lally said. “When we decided to become a Subaru dealer our timing was really pretty good. We were selling 60 cars a year in a town of 600 at the time. I literally did everything from the parts ordering, to selling cars when I wasn’t fixing them, and undercoating cars at night.”
Over the years, Lally pointed out, the Gulf gas station was expanded three times as they seemed to keep outgrowing the facility. Another opportunity came in the early 1980s when the Ford dealer in Tilbury closed its doors. After some convincing from Vince, Ray decided to team with his son to become a Ford dealer in Comber in the 1983 model year.
“In 1995 I outgrew that facility, and Ford was interested in the dealership moving to Tilbury,” Lally said. “So in 1995 I built a new dealership in Tilbury. Really, when I look back the whole sequence is kind of ironic as 25 years ago it all started with my father as a Ford franchise, then fast forward 25 years later and I open Lally Southpoint Ford as a second location.”
Recognizing his humble beginnings, Lally noted his appreciation for the success he has enjoyed. “I will never forget that I started out as a mechanic from Comber,” Lally mentioned. “Really when I look back it has been a fantastic ride for me.”
Lally explained that he was aware of the potential of his newest location at Southpoint Ford when he was evaluating his possible investment. Along with the advantages to having a presence in the Leamington area, he admitted he was a little overwhelmed by all the positives when he was compiling his research. This list included the ever expanding greenhouse industry and the glowing review the town of Leamington received as the number one place to live, back in 2006 by Money Sense Magazine. All of these factors played a part in Lally’s decision making process.
“Honestly in my opinion Leamington is definitely a bright spot in Essex County,” Lally said. “It is a thriving town that has a lot to offer. My market in Tilbury and the surrounding area is actually quite a bit smaller than the Leamington market, so I believe there is huge potential. The town is made up of people that support businesses in this town and the greenhouse industry is constantly growing here locally.”
Relying on principles and values that have served him well when dealing with customers at either of his dealerships, Lally attributes this type of thinking to his success. This strategy includes having loaner cars on hand so any customers that require service on their vehicles are not inconvenienced. Not to mention any car that comes into either of his dealerships is washed before it is returned to the customer.
We really take pride in guaranteeing our customers that they will never be without a vehicle. If all of our cars are being used, you could get my car to drive and it has happened quite often that our sales people don’t have their demos to take home. “That is just the way we do it at my dealerships,” he said.
At the end of the day, customers will go where they are treated the best and feel appreciated. Chalking it up to an added bonus, when he has a customer that makes the drive to his dealerships from Windsor, Lally added that he does his best to make it worth their trip.
We do our best to play an advisory role more than some other dealerships do. The other part of it is, we just try to make the whole process as simplified for the customer as possible.
The passion and work ethic are evident as his eyes light up when he points out the sacrifices that have been made over the years to achieve success in a competitive market in Essex County.
There have been some cold dinners, delayed and missed vacations. My wife has been very understanding in that you need that drive to be able to make it work one way or the other. With this way of thinking I have surrounded myself over the years with other people that share that same kind of passion.