“I think the size isn’t just about economics,” said Cooley, the second Murray employee after Dunn to partner as a general manager. “It’s about sharing knowledge.
“If you do go to one of the meetings and someone points out a problem, it’s never to criticize, but just to make sure you’re aware of it,” he said. “If you are struggling, it’s always about putting an arm around your shoulders and saying ‘Here’s what we can do to help.’”
All of it is grounded in the values handed down from Andy, to Clair and to his grandsons today, said Cooley. No one got anything easily: Dan swept floors, reconciled cash, sold cars, ran parts and worked his way up.
All four brothers began their careers at the bottom.
“I started out swatting flies at an auction,” Paul said. “That was my first job. Dad paid me a penny a fly.”
One day in the 1950s, Clair sold a car to a farmer in Saskatchewan, and drove out to deliver it the same day, Paul said. “So, he took a trade-in [from the customer], and on his way home, he stopped and sold that trade-in and took another trade-in, continued for home and then before he got to Souris, sold that trade-in and had to call Uncle Dell to come pick him up.
“It’s all about being good with people; with farmers, you go and see them because maybe it’s harvest and they don’t have time to come in,” Paul said. “Dad did that and sold four cars in the same trip.”
The next generation is also on its way. Dan’s son, Mitchell, is now a sales manager, having paid his dues as a sales rep.
It hasn’t always been easy, and an ability to adapt was paramount. From the Second World War, when car sales slowed to a crawl, to the collapse of leasing in 2008, the family has had to think on its feet.
“In the space of a weekend, we lost leasing,” Dan Murray said. “That was 50 per cent of my sales. But, we rolled out 84-month financing and we found a way to keep going.”