14/11/2006 - 21:00

Lehaney has a range of options at Maddington

14/11/2006 - 21:00

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Toni Lehaney plans to leave an indelible mark on the Western Australian motoring scene with a combination of determination, big-picture vision and a touch of finesse.

Lehaney has a range of options at Maddington

Toni Lehaney plans to leave an indelible mark on the Western Australian motoring scene with a combination of determination, big-picture vision and a touch of finesse.

The businesswoman already had successful Mitsubishi and Ford dealerships in Karratha to her name when she approached Automotive Holdings Group Ltd earlier this year.

As reported in WA Business News last week, Ms Lehaney emerged from negotiations as the owner and dealer principal of the packaged Range Ford Maddington and Park Ford Victoria Park, before on-selling the latter to motoring magnate John Hughes after he made a late offer.

After on-selling the recent acquisition, Ms Lehaney and her husband – both financial planners – wish to concentrate on the Range Ford dealership and its 54 staff.

The decision to take on Range Ford is something of a homecoming for Ms Lehaney, who worked there in the early 1990s as a fleet salesperson before being transferred to a dealership in Port Hedland, eventually starting Karratha Mitsubishi in 2003 and North West Ford in 2005.

The mother of two is proud to admit she is one of only a handful of female owner/operators in Australia, and the fact that she has three dealerships is an even rarer feat in a male-dominated industry. 

“Spending time in the dealership back then made me think that if these guys can do it, I can,” Ms Lehaney told WA Business News.

“We started from scratch and not very often in this industry do you get that opportunity to start from nothing. It started from the point where I was thinking ‘where is my first pen coming from’?”

Despite winning a national award last year for her Mitsubishi dealership, Ms Lehaney admitted running a business in Karratha was tough, particularly sourcing qualified staff and finding affordable accommodation for them.

Now taking the reins of a 300-car dealership in Perth, Ms Lehaney said the next two years would present another learning curve.

Among the options are a staged redevelopment of the prominent 10,000 square metre site on Albany Highway, estimated to cost between $2 million and $3 million, or the relocation of the Ford dealership to a larger 11,000sq m greenfield site within its prime marketing area. The latter exercise would cost up to $6 million.

“We have a plan for the next two years to transform this business, and whether we go out and find a super-site or stay here and freshen up our corporate image, we’ll have to work through these options in the next three to four months,” Ms Lehaney said.

Firmly in her mind is the fact that the business had been in the same location on Albany Highway for more than 20 years and has loyal, long-term customers from a PMA encompassing Maddington, Gosnells, Byford, Kalamunda and Oakford.

Regardless of which direction the business takes, Ms Lehaney plans to build a new two-storey dealership with a giant, energy efficient showroom with splashes of colour.

If all goes to according to plan at Range Ford, including its $1.5 million marketing and re-branding campaign next year, Ms Lehaney hopes to add one or two new dealerships to the group in the coming years.

“You don’t just walk into these things and say here’s a cheque…I would like to see another metro dealership coming in to play, but we want to get this one spot on first,” she said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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