Spinelli expands operations for 100th anniversary

August 17, 2022

As the custodian of a dealership celebrating its 100th anniversary, Mathieu Spinelli admits it is quite a responsibility to uphold the values started by his great grandfather and passed along through three more generations.

The Spinelli Auto Group is prominent in Quebec, in particular in the Greater Montreal area, where it introduced the Toyota brand 55 years ago. Spinelli was appointed as executive vice-president in February 2021, succeeding his father Pierre, who remains president of the company. 

Following his promotion, Spinelli focused on a Volkswagen dealership to add a brand that the company did not already retail. On July 15, it acquired Campbell & Cameron Volkswagen.

Mathieu Spinelli

“It was obvious that 100 years was major for us. It was a big thing, and we needed to act accordingly,” said Spinelli in an interview with Canadian auto dealer. “When I took over it was clear to me I wanted to take advantage of that leverage and make sure the transition would be marked.”

Spinelli said he immediately worked on acquiring the Volkswagen franchise, adding that, while it is always a long process, “for me it was important to make my mark and to use the 100th year as a lever.”

The Spinelli Group was founded by his great grandfather, Giuseppe, who turned over operations to his sons, Noel and Jean, in 1960. Noel handed the role of president to Pierre in 1998.

“The continuity for me is a big focus. The fact (that) I’m a fourth generation makes it a little bit easier, in terms of culture within the business,” said Spinelli. “My great-grandfather was always focused on employees. For him, having employees around him that were happy was important–same thing with my grandfather, my father and, obviously, the same thing with me. It creates a very solid culture within The Spinelli Group, and for me I feel this is easier.”

The 47-year-old said he thought about following his father in the business, but it was not pushed on him. He graduated with a degree in political science and subsequently joined the company full-time after working part-time. In later years, a succession plan was put in place.

Spinelli said acquiring the Volkswagen brand was important because it always appealed to him, and because he wanted to diversify.

“For me to expand with a German manufacturer was a strategic move,” he said. “I find the brand to be one (that creates) emotion. There’s an aura around the Volkswagen brand in Quebec.”

He said the company will consider further acquisitions that align with Spinelli values, one of which is giving back to the community. They launched SpinelliDirect, an online purchasing tool, as part of the dealer group’s 100th anniversary. 

The company also donated $250,000 to be shared by the Lachine Hospital Foundation, the Lakeshore General Hospital Foundation and West Island Community Shares.

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