Okotoks businessman inducted to Hall of Fame
Business: Gerry Wood given honour from Calgary business community
Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017 06:00 am
Shaw, Cross, Forzani, Seaman and now Wood – an Okotoks businessman has joined the ranks of some of the biggest names in business in Calgary.
Gerry Wood, owner of Okotoks Ford and president of the Wood Automotive Group, was among the 2017 inductees into the Calgary Business Hall of Fame.
The distinction sees Wood, an Okotoks-area resident of 30 years, join a distinguished list of past laureates.
“It means a lot, it’s a huge honour,” he said. “Meeting some of the alumni who have previously won this award is humbling to see the calibre.”
From his home base of Okotoks, Wood has built a business with six dealerships in the Calgary region, including Okotoks Ford Lincoln, employing more than 600 people.
It all started with humble beginnings when Wood followed his father’s footsteps into the automotive business in Scotland. Working at his father’s small Ford dealership, they converted vehicles to hand controls for disabled drivers.
“His forte was he converted cars to hand controls for disabled people,” he said. “Over there, there was quite a number of war disabled and quite a few coal miners injured in mining accidents.”
Wood arrived in Calgary in 1969 as he was travelling across Canada on his way to visit his brother in New Guinea, but he ran short on funds.
“I got to Calgary and ran out of money,” he said.
Wood began working at Maclin Ford in Calgary, where he stayed for 10 years as a sales representative and sales manager. In 1979, he bought a GM dealership in Vulcan.
From there, his business grew. Wood bought his first dealership in Calgary in 1983 – Southridge Mercury Lincoln, which is now Woodridge Ford Lincoln.
However, even while Wood was in Vulcan he had his sights set on the city.
He took inquiries from prospective buyers in Calgary and was prepared to bring a car to them in the hopes of making a deal.
“That’s what we did, we drove 77 miles each way and we tried very hard not to bring the vehicle back,” said Wood. “There was lot of incentive not to go home.”
This type of hard work and business resourcefulness has been key to his success over the years.
“We’ve always been able to outwork the other guys,” said Wood. “We find our competition to be perhaps a little on the laid back side and we use that to our advantage. I think that’s been part of our success.”
Today, the Wood Automotive Group includes six dealerships in Calgary and Okotoks, a leasing company and an autobody repair centre in Calgary that looks after repairs for each of the dealerships in the company.
While much of the company operates in Calgary, he said Okotoks is his home base. Wood still thinks back fondly of when he opened Okotoks Ford Lincoln 25 years ago.
The Town has been a good place to do business over the years and to give back to the community.
“Our two boys went to school here and our daughter went to school here,” said Wood. “Both boys played hockey in the community. So, we’ve always felt a part of Okotoks. It’s a great community, we love it.”