New General Motors dealership holds grand opening
With a pledge that its business dealings will be staked on service, a ribbon was cut on Friday night to proclaim Woodward Motors at St. Anthony officially open.
A crowd of some 150 people joined with company officials, employees and special guests in celebrating the newest fixture in the St. Anthony business community.
The fivestar General Motors dealership, which will sell Pontiac, Buick, GMC, Chevrolet and Oldsmobile vehicles, is owned by Mel Woodward, a Boat Harbour native who’s a selfmade millionaire.
He has extensive dealings in the area of oil distribution, aircraft servicing, and shipping, in addition to selling cars and trucks. The St. Anthony dealership joins similar operations at Goose Bay, Labrador City and Bay Roberts.
In kicking off the opening night celebrations, the vice-president of operations for the Woodward Group of Companies, Peter Woodward, Mel’s son, said he was proud of the facility, and proud of his father.
He dismissed the skeptics who have said it’s foolhardy to open a new business during recessionary times, and predicted that the dealership will do very well because of the company’s commitment to service and a promise to be competitive.
“We’re in for the long haul,” he stated. “We’ve got the product, we’ve got the price … all you have to do is come and shop.” In welcoming the Woodwards to St. Anthony, Mayor Bern Bromley said the company’s faith in the town has reinforced the town’s claim as the regional centre of Northern Newfoundland. Noting that the Woodwards could be classed as “doers,” Mayor Bromley complimented the owners of the establishment for constructing a “marvelous” building, and offered best wishes for their success.
The Woodward Group’s vicepresident of finance, Tony Noonan, talked about how he
was “hired away” from Memorial University some four years ago at the urging of Mel Woodward. He described him as a modest entrepreneur who doesn’t go around talking about his accomplishments. “He doesn’t brag or blow his own horn, but what he does brag about is where he comes from, and that’s Boat Harbour, a tiny place on the Great Northern Peninsula,” he said. “He likes to say the further north you go, the stronger and tougher the people are.”
In his address to the gathering, Mel Woodward said the service people will receive at Woodward Motors will be comparable to anything that’s available at other General Motors dealerships in the Maritimes. While surrounded by his newly-hired staff members, he offered a commitment that customers will be treated in a way that will bring them back. With 14 individuals on the payroll, he said he expects his staff to be hardworking, and to produce results.
One of the convictions he’s held for a long time is that “great things are going to happen to the Great Northern Peninsula,” largely in the transportation sector. The federal government’s commitment last week to allot funds to develop the Trans-Labrador Highway is another step closer towards moving vehicles between Labrador and the Island.
“There are 40,000 people in Labrador who could be traveling this route (through the peninsula).”
Mr. Woodward also said he appreciated the support he’s received from local businesses, the Town of St. Anthony, General Motors, and several individuals in “putting this facility together.”