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What does it take to manage the best selling BMW dealership in Canada?

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Two years in the planning and multi-millions of dollars in the making, 2015 will be a defining year for Brian Jessel BMW and the man who runs the luxury auto dealership, managing partner Jim Murray.

When Murray tells you the extensive renovation of the dealership’s new-car showroom and the addition of a 26,000- sq.-ft. stand-alone facility for pre-owned vehicles is a game changer for the BMW brand experience in Canada, you tend to believe him. This is the guy, after all, whose vision and focus have ensured Brian Jessel BMW is consistently ranked the No. 1 BMW dealer in Western Canada and the largest luxury auto dealer in the country.

“The last two years have really been setting up for 2015 with the renovation and expansion and separating the new and pre-owned and creating two different dealerships,” explains Murray, whose polished office shares the same Minority Report meets West Coast Modern motif that informs the dealership’s new corporate identity upgrade. “

What’s next is to make the dream happen, grow our business, grow into these facilities and the investment.”There’s no doubt it will be Murray who spearheads this next phase in Brian Jessel BMW’s evolution. It’s an open secret that Murray is the heir apparent to the Boundary Road franchise, tasked by his mentor to lead the bold charge into the automotive future. As Jessel throttles back his own hands-on involvement in the day-to-day operations of the business, Murray is increasingly running the show.

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“That’s definitely part of the succession plan,” agrees Murray, trim and youthful at 51. “Brian and I have always had a good working relationship. I call it a good marriage. We’ve survived 18 years together and I don’t think we’ve had one fight. That’s a pretty good marriage in my books.

We’re both driven, we’re both intense, and the fundamental thing is we both recognize if you take care of your customers they’re going to take care of you.” Murray reaches for his desktop calculator and taps in a few numbers. “Just checking,” he says. “Yup, 28 years in this business.” And 18 of those years with Brian Jessel BMW, where Murray has risen through the management ranks from new car sales manager to managing director to the managing partner position he accepted over five years ago.

Today, the luxury merchant manages over 200 employees, moves some 2000 new and 1500 pre-owned vehicles off the lot each year and oversees two spectacular showrooms the Brian Jessel BMW M Showroom and BMW i Brand Centre at one location, and the new Brian Jessel Certified Pre-Owned BMW facility just up the block.

Not too shabby for a guy who grew up driving an “old” Mazda and playing drums in going-nowhere Edmonton bar bands. “Really sales was never in my line of sight growing up,” says Murray, during a mid-afternoon chat at his refurbished workplace, where cascading water features and an epic fireplace compete for attention with the latest shiny-cool BMWs. “I was a musician. I thought that was going to be my career path for my life.

It wasn’t until I was 23 years old that I decided that I needed to get a real job.” Timing and connections are largely responsible for the turbo-charged West Coast dream Murray inhabits today — fine Vancouver dining, frequent global travel, meaningful charity work, sports cars, a personal trainer and visits to the spa with his loving daughter, now in her mid-teens.

But back then 20-something Murray was just drifting  biding his time, weighing his options. A friend’s father owned a Chrysler dealership in Edmonton, and suggested Murray apply for an opening in sales.

“Everybody says it’s not what you know, it’s who you know . . . it was just a timing thing,” Murray recalls. “I don’t think I’d worn a suit at that point in my life, certainly never sold anything. Applied for the job, got the job and I was the top sales person first month there. Never really looked back; the rest is history.” Murray says he adopted his work ethic from his father, an electrician by trade who worked long, hard hours to establish his own successful electrical contracting company.

From his father Murray also learned the long game. It would serve him well, first at Chrysler dealerships in Edmonton and Vancouver, and finally at Brian Jessel BMW where he’s currently rewriting the book on customer care and satisfaction. “That shaped me,” he says. “I didn’t move around. I didn’t look for the next best opportunity. I was patient. If you work hard and you do the right things and you prove yourself typically you’ll move up in an organization. I think that’s a lesson for some of the younger generation now who tend to move around more.

Longevity is really the key. And loyalty. That’s been one of the keys to my success.” Being taken under wing by Brian Jessel, that can’t hurt a car salesman’s career trajectory either. Murray cites Jessel as his “biggest influence and mentor,” but admits he was actually turned down for the first position he applied for at Brian Jessel BMW. But six months later, Jessel called Murray up and brought him in as his new-car manager. From Jessel Murray learned the importance of stepping back and letting the talent shine.

“My management style is very similar to Brian’s,” Murray explains. “I’m very intense and I’m very focused and I like to

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Styling with Jim

Mobile iPhone 6 from Telus

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Shoes Prada.

Scotch Don’t touch the stuff. Had a bad experience a long time ago.

Holts and Barneys New York

Wine French, Italian, Pinot Noirs, Brunellos

Vacation Spot Anywhere in Europe. Put me in Europe and I’m happy

Car BMW i8

Riding in Style with Jim Murray

“My current favorite ride is the BMW i8. It’s our dream, luxury, hybrid supercar. It does everything, just spectacular. First of all on looks, it could have an Eveready Battery and still be the most awesome car out there. You can run this car on pure electric stealth mode I like to call it or engage the three Cylinder turbo engine. Combined with the electric

battery the car has phenomenal power, and handling and style. It really is today’s modern supercar. “That’s my immature car. And I drive a 7 Series for my mature car, for the days when I need four doors and want to feel grown up.”

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