Editor’s note: An earlier summary of this this story incorrectly described Woods’s past affiliation with Ford. He is a former employee.
Gerald Wood is the new president of the Motor Dealers Association of Alberta, taking over as members are facing particularly trying times.
Wood, 55, on Nov. 16 was named the successor to Denis Ducharme who retired after 12 years at the job.
Wood retired in 2019 as Ford’s western region general manager, says dealing with the effects COVID-19 restrictions has on dealers is one of his first priorities.
“The biggest task is monitoring what’s going on around COVID and making sure we continue to be recognized as an essential service,” he said. Dealers, he said, weren’t anxious to get too deeply into online transactions, but COVID restrictions “kind of pushed them into it and dealers are looking at a new set of expectations from the consumer.”
“There’s a lot of hacked together sales systems and something more sustainable needs to be put together,” he said.
The Ford veteran says there are plenty of new names and faces to meet, particularly from his former competitors.
“I have to reach out and connect with the other brands, although there’s a fair bit of overlap where principals have several brands as well as Ford,” he said. “I’m looking forward to looking at other products with a clean eye, so to speak.”
Wood said the association “is in pretty good shape,” adding that he doesn’t have a lot of experience in the political arena although he feels with relationships with the provincial government appear to be good.
He said there’s a job to do in letting people know what a great career it is to be technician.
“We need to get to them a little earlier – in high school programs– and get them to like the idea. The pay is pretty darn good and we need technicians,” he said.
Wood took the job because he found it hard to leave the industry.
“Once it gets its hooks into you, it doesn’t like to let go,” he said. “I wasn’t actively looking and this is one of only a couple of things that would coax me back to work.
“Throughout my career, I always enjoyed the interaction with dealers and the MDA role lets me connect with dealers on a daily basis, this time across all brands,” he said. “It will also put me in a position of being able to help them build their respective businesses. It checked all the boxes.”
In announcing Wood’s appointment, MDA Chairman Chad Zender cited Wood’s extensive experience saying “he fully comprehends a new car dealer’s challenges with respect to operations, market trends, manufacturer relationships and government regulations.
“The selection committee also felt he understands how to speak with dealers directly and is already known and respected by many dealers in this province.”
Wood began his career with Ford at Ford Credit in Halifax in 1988 after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He spent the next 10 years in various roles and locations before moving over to Ford Motor Company where he worked firsthand with the dealer body. In 2009, he was named western region general manager until he retired in 2019.