What started as a wartime pledge marks three generations
When John A. Grant and his twin brother Frank headed off to World War II from their home in Saint John, N.B. – John to the navy, Frank to the air force – they made a pledge: if they both survived, they would start Grant Brothers Sales.
“After high school I got my first job working for Commercial Equipment, Irving Oil’s auto parts company,” says John A. Grant. “They sent me to Halifax, where I became a salesman after some time on the counter. Then WWII broke out. I was 22 years old, and disappeared into the Navy for five years.”
That’s when he and brother Frank made the pledge to start Grant Brothers Sales.
“As a founder, I’m very proud of the fact that the company is 70-odd years of age at this point.”
“With great relief, we got together after the war in Montreal,” – where their parents had moved during the war – “but we decided that Toronto was where we belonged, and moved there two years later.
John turned 100 in 2018; Frank passed on 25 years ago, after a battle with stomach cancer. He says that they didn’t really look too far down the road, though they certainly had hoped their children would carry on the business.
“I know that my son John was born for this business,” he says. “And it warms my heart that his son Charlie is right there alongside his father.”
Today, as one of Canada’s largest sales organizations in the automotive aftermarket – with traditional and retail automotive units as well as heavy-duty, hardware and merchandising – Grant Brothers has a long history of placing a high emphasis on customer service, and as leaders in using technology to keep their clients, customers, and distribution partners on a steady road to success.
Call reports have always been an important part of what Grant Brothers Sales has committed to, even back when field sales reps were mailing them in from all over Canada.
“We have had a CRM for 25 years,” says John’s son, John D. “The one we had 25 years ago was pretty revolutionary at the time, but by today’s standards it is not.”
Today, Grant Brothers Sales field sales team members use a voice recognition app, which simplifies the process of delivering timely reports on sales calls while the results are still fresh.
“It’s part of our strategy to make sure that our manufacturers know what’s working and what’s not working. That is really where we are positioned from the standpoint of the competitive landscape. We are accountable every which way, to both customers and clients. We actually did a CRSM study for the Auto Care Association that was completed about a year ago, so we really do study this. But the point is that we have quite a lot of knowledge and we believe we are the best in class in that regard.”
“We are really using technology to our advantage, to make us work smarter, and we can really document what we are doing,” says Charlie Grant, grandson of founder John A., who took over as president on January 1.
“More and more of our manufacturers are requesting more visibility in what we are doing, and we want them to have that so we can really be a part of their team. And we are starting to share call reports with the major warehouses too, letting them know what we’re doing on their behalf.
“I see a trend more to open communication, so we can
work more efficiently together,” Charlie continues. “We want to continue to
keep pushing for this. We think it helps create a better product; more and more
people are looking to get more information and work together to create a better
end result. And, of course, to create more sales.
“We’re not done with technology. We’re watching the trends and making changes to help us improve and keep up with the current state of best practices.
“We owe it to our factories, our employees, our customers, and our legacy.”
Grant Brothers Sales, 7885 Tranmere Drive, Unit #1, Mississauga, ON Canada L5S 1V8 Tel: 905-677-7299. Fax: 905-677-9828, Email: [email protected]