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Developing a winning culture

Gord Hayes surrounds himself with winners as a path to success

- Words by Chloe Sjuberg Photography by Lia Crowe

Gord Hayes has been the managing director/general manager of Kelowna BMW/MINI for the last 13 years, and he’s been in the car business since 1994. Over the years, he says, he’s dedicated himself to building high-performing teams and investing in their personal successes.

In his late 20s, Gord was living in Calgary, running his own auditing company as well as doing personal training with clients and participating in competitive bodybuilding events. He wasn’t particularly happy with this career path, though, so his girlfriend (and now wife) Kim suggested he consider a change.

“She asked me what I really liked to do—what was my passion? I remembered how much I had enjoyed buying and selling cars as a young guy in high school and then in later years as well.”

He got his first job in the car industry with Hyatt Saturn/Saab/GM in Calgary and then moved to Summit Saturn/Saab as a business manager. From there, he became a partner in some Edmonton dealerships and in 2006 moved to Kelowna to head up a Saturn dealership. When Saturn dissolved, he was offered the opportunity to run the BMW franchise, and he’s been there ever since.

Gord says the secret to Kelowna BMW’s success is developing a winning culture within all departments, and helping people achieve their goals by “doing the right thing for both their clients and the business.”

He adds: “Surrounding myself with winners is a success formula I have lived by for years.”

He uses a hockey analogy to describes how Kelowna BMW/MINI’s business model stretches his team members’ abilities—as if they were players on a winning NHL team during a playoff run. He says it’s so rewarding to watch new team members pick up their personal game, as if they were moving from the third line to the first, and then scoring in overtime during a crucial game!

When he’s not busy mentoring his team, Gord loves staying fit and healthy and spending time outside. He and Kim enjoy boating, golfing, beach walks with their dogs Charley and Kierra, “and just being outdoors with friends and family, living the beautiful Okanagan lifestyle, which often includes a glass of wine or two at one of our favourite wineries.”

And as a lifelong car lover with the BMW lineup at his fingertips, what does Gord like to drive?

In the snowier months his preference is a BMW X5 or X6, with winter tires, of course. In the summer months he enjoys driving a BMW 850 convertible.

“It’s also nice from time to time to drive M products, like an M4 or M5, just to shake the webs off a little.”

The 7 Sins


Whose shoes would you like to walk in?

I like to think I am comfortable walking in my own shoes first and foremost. I have watched the “grass is greener” metaphor happen in real time, often proving the grass on the other side is not what you thought it would be. You can adjust your speed better in your own shoes, pick up the pace and just walk by those shoes you thought looked better than the ones you’re already wearing.


What is the food you could eat over and over again?

I love to cook, but what I enjoy most is food that others have prepared with love. Food and celebrations seem to go hand in hand with our family. My wife Kim makes the most amazing ribs and rice—although it is tough to decide whether that or her rack of lamb tops the chart—but either way, they keep me coming back for more.


You’re given $1 million that you have to spend

selfishly. What would you spend it on?

A bigger boat, a faster sports car, or a down payment on a tropical paradise on a beach somewhere special.


Pet peeves?

People who procrastinate and hold others up because they can’t make simple decisions, and people who lose their temper with others over things that are not controllable, like with restaurant servers or airline ticket agents. The people in line behind you are now forced to wait, just so you can air out your frustrations. Really?!


Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?

Spending the day doing nothing always feels best on a large boat, a tropical beach, or, if these things are not on the agenda for the day, hanging by the pool in the sun.


What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?

Seeing my “investment in people” pay true dividends makes me feel a real sense of personal self-worth. Taking a chance on hiring someone who goes on to exceed both your expectations and their own, and seeing them prosper to their full potential, is an amazing feeling that never gets old. And, when you get a call or email years later from someone saying thank you for taking the risk with them—now that’s an incredible feeling.


What makes your heart beat faster?

When I see a good idea that leads to a strong execution, that out-performs original expectations and then precludes any and all risks taken. I like to call this “WINNING!” or creating a “WIN-WIN.”

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication
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About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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