Forbes Automotive Family

Forbes will fly Chevrolet banner
Waterloo dealership is taking over former Schlueter franchise
Chuck Howitt, Record staff, Record, April 18, 2013


KITCHENER —Russell Forbes Sr. pointed toward the wall at one end of his GM dealership at 165 Weber St. S. in Waterloo. Above the logos for Buick, Cadillac and GMC, an empty space yawned where a Pontiac sign used to rest.

That space will be empty no longer. Forbes Motors announced Wednesday that it is taking over the Chevrolet franchise in Waterloo that once belonged to the Schlueter Automotive Group.

Forbes will begin selling and servicing the full line of Chevrolet vehicles on June 1. “It’s a new birth. It broadens the scope of vehicles we can offer and consumers we can reach,” a beaming Forbes said in an interview.

With sales falling after GM discontinued the Pontiac line in 2010, Forbes was looking for another General Motors brand to fill the space.

When word filtered his way about six months ago that the Schlueter group was looking to vacate the Chevrolet family, serious discussions began, he said.

Rumours intensified in March when Schlueter revealed it would shut down its nearby dealership at 300 Weber St. N. in May.

With two hectares of land and 65,000 square feet under roof, Forbes Motors has plenty of room to accommodate the Chevrolet lineup,along with its existing fleet of Buicks, Cadillacs and GMC vehicles, he said.

“This will take us back to those volumes,” Forbes said of the days when he sold Pontiacs. Taking over the Schlueter lot was never in the cards because the Schlueters plan to redevelop the property for other uses, he said. About eight to 10 employees from Schlueter are moving over to Forbes, bringing total employment at the Weber Street dealership to around 70, he said.

The franchise transfer has the full support of GM Canada, Forbes said.

“We’ve been with them for 65 years. It’s not as if we were strangers to them,” said Forbes, whose lineage in the auto industry goes back 93 years.

His grandfather Russell Arthur Forbes once worked as a business manager for auto pioneer Henry Ford before opening his own dealership in Tilbury, Ont., in 1921.

Located at 165 Weber St. since 1965, Forbes completely renovated the facility in 2008 to meet the upgraded image requirements of GM, he said. A full lineup of Chevrolet models will bring the dealership’s total inventory to around 300 vehicles, said Forbes’s son Russ, general manager of the Weber Street store

Forbes Automotive Family also owns a Toyota dealership on Colby Drive and a Mazda dealership on Northfield Drive in Waterloo. While Russ runs the Weber Street dealership, Russell Sr. manages the overall direction of the auto group.