Randy Dunlop: Car dealer’s giving nature a case of learning by example

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Hot summer days and fast cars go hand-in-hand for many young men. In that respect, Randy Dunlop (Bachelor of Applied Arts honorary degree 2016) is not unique. It’s how much time he spent around vehicles that sets him apart.

“As a kid I always worked at the dealership in the summertime,” remembers Dunlop. “I always had a love of the automotive industry.”

His father, Doug, started Dunlop Ford in 1964, which gave young Randy a crash course in car sales. He closely matched not only the way his dad ran his business, but the way he served his community. “You want to imitate your father, because to most kids, your father is ‘the guy.’ He was a catalyst in terms of giving back and supporting the community.”

Dunlop took the lessons to heart. After learning the dealership business – both from his father and on his own while working in Vancouver – he and his brother, Gary, took over operation of Dunlop Ford in 1993. They added heavy truck sales to the operation in 1998, opening what is now Dunlop Western Star. Through it all, community support – particularly for Lethbridge College – remained a mandate. “We’ve always had the philosophy that we’ve been here for over 50 years,” says Dunlop. “And we want to give back to the community that has supported us.”

Dunlop’s involvement with Lethbridge College took on a very personal connection after his father passed away in 2002. Randy and Gary donated $50,000 to create the Doug Dunlop Memorial Award, a permanent endowment for apprentices in either the Automotive Service Technician or Parts Technician programs. “We thought, what better way to give him some recognition than to have a scholarship awarded with his name on it that helps support the people who helped make himsuccessful,” Dunlop says.

His support of the college continues to grow. A member of the Lethbridge College board of governors, in 2011 Dunlop spearheaded a $1 million donation from the Lethbridge Auto Dealers Association to help build the new trades and technologies facility, and two years later was part of the “Power of Five” donation in which five local philanthropic families donated a total of $1 million.

In recognition of the support Dunlop has shown the college and the community over the years, he has been named Lethbridge College’s Honorary Degree recipient at this year’s Convocation ceremony.

And through all the success and all the donations, it’s the same love which consumed his summer days as a child that drives him today. “The car business is always changing and no two days are the same,” says Dunlop. “That’s an exciting thing. I don’t have any trouble getting out of bed in the morning to come to work.”

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