It's a business that's still operated by his family, and now employs 56 people and does more than $42 million in sales every year.
He “took a leap of faith and invested his heart and soul in launching a business venture that has survived the test of time,” said Belanger-Leroux, who has been working at the dealership herself for 22 years.
The grand reopening, celebrated with a big party in the showroom, was held in honour of a recent major expansion of the dealership's premises.
“This facelift was planned to enhance the overall customer experience, because the client is the heart of our business,” Belanger-Leroux said.
“The additional 6,000 square feet includes many features such as the automatic car wash, the quick lube drive-through and improved customer waiting area.”
She thanked her customers for their loyalty over the years, as well as her staff for putting up with the “noise, dust and chaos” during the renovations.
Besides customers and staff, the grand reopening party was attended by several senior Ford executives. They presented the Belanger family with plaques in appreciation for their work over the years.
Belanger-Leroux said it “means a lot” to her family that so many VIPs from Ford attended the celebration.
Four generations after Henry Ford started Ford Motor Company in 1903, the company is still family-owned, said Al McCormick, vice-president of Sales with Ford for Canada.
“It was Henry's dream to build a company and keep it within the family and partner with people like the Belanger family in communities, and have good, strong businesses, which also can be passed down generation after generation,” he said.
Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis congratulated the dealership on its grand reopening on behalf of city council.
“When you think back to 1971, when Gabe (Belanger) was looking at establishing this Ford dealership, he had a vision,” he said.
“But I tell you, you far exceeded his vision by what you're doing here today. It's unbelievable. What a gorgeous facility.”
He said Gabe Belanger “is up there, and just smiling down, and he's really proud. I bet he's pounding his chest, and saying those are my girls.”