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Big wig comes to town, with a gift for Francine (11 photos)

Thursday, June 12, 2014   by: Kenneth Armstrong

The opening of the new Great Lakes Honda location on Pim Street included some extra special guests, as owner Francine Floreani welcomed executives from Honda Canada.

“Having them come to Sault Ste. Marie is a testimony that they stand behind us as a dealer and they really stand behind their product,” said Floreani.

Honda Canada president and CEO Jerry Chenkin was in attendance and presented the dealership with a decorative Japanese kabuto helmet, which he said signifies a fighting spirt.

“We decided that for any dealer opening we had to show something that represent what dealers stand for. Certainly in Francine’s case this really represents her fighting spirit,” said Chenkin.

Floreani and her husband purchased the Great Northern Road dealership in 2010 and purchased the Pim Street location shortly after.

“We had kind of outgrown the space. It was limiting in the fact that we couldn’t display the cars well,” said Floreani.

The new location on Pim Street was formerly Boston’s, which closed in 2010.

The building was gutted, creating a brand new interior to display the dealership’s cars, motorcycles and ATV’s, as well as new offices that the dealership makes available for non-profits.

“Being community driven, one of the initiatives that we have is a space where different groups can meet free of charge so they can make positive change in Sault Ste. Marie,”

The former Honda dealership on Great Norther Road has already been sold.

Floreani said a dirt track is being built adjacent to the property on Pim Street to allow customers to test drive their power sports products, like ATV’s.

Being present for the opening brought back memories of Chenkin’s first ever problem-solving dealer visit, which happened in 1977.

“The product has changed with autos, motorcycles and ATVs. What hasn’t changed is the fact that it is about people. You can have a great facility like we have at Great Lakes Honda and you can have fabulous product, what makes the difference is the relationship we have with the customer,” said Chenkin.

(PHOTO: Great Lakes Honda owner Francine Floreani speaks with Honda Canada President and CEO Jerry Chenkin during the dealership's grand opening June 11, 2014. Armstrong)

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Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
PSR 6/12/2014 10:38:34 AM Report

You mentioned the former site on Great Northern Road has been sold. Is it known to whom?
soowat 6/12/2014 10:39:14 AM Report

Always felt that it was a shame to see the former Boston's location sitting vacant,so I'm glad to see it being used again. Best wishes to the new owners
GoHoundsGo 6/12/2014 10:41:02 AM Report

Was that "Flash Bulb Dave" I saw in one of those pics.....whata
Javaman 6/12/2014 10:41:33 AM Report

I heard someone bought the old Honda site plus the beer store AND the old Husky North. There must be big plans for that big chunk of land.
Twist Of Fate 6/12/2014 11:22:43 AM Report

I heard that it was going to be a Montana's steak house. Hard to say if there is any truth to that or not.
Just Curious 6/12/2014 12:17:35 PM Report

The old Husky property won't be much good to anybody for a long time, been a lotta leakage on that place for a long time......
good4now 6/12/2014 1:52:36 PM Report

Although I didn't end up buying a Honda this time, I have purchased from the new owners before.
They treat their customers royally and with integrity. Unlike another couple of dealerships on Trunk road. The first didn't have any of the advertised special vehicles and were not able to get any despite the ads running for almost three weeks more. The second had a two day special on vans, but the salesman said he didn't have gloves and couldn't scrape the 2 inches of ice off the windshield. Both my son and myself were looking to buy a van, but there was NO interest in selling!! We have both bought elsewhere since.
David Helwig 6/12/2014 3:33:59 PM Report

I believe you mean the Honda Canada president brought Francine a kabuto helmet? Kubota is the name of another company that competes with Honda in a number of product categories.
Krusto 6/12/2014 6:19:42 PM Report

The owner of the old Honda site is a former resident now living in Toronto. I'm sure he would not appreciate me disclosing his name but I am only answering a posters question. I am not aware the Beer Store and former Husky were also purchased by the same individual.
And the Montana's statement is also not true, in fact that's been floating around for years.
Voice of Reason 6/12/2014 10:50:22 PM Report

A top notch business run by top notch people. Customer Service means EVERYTHING to the new owners and their staff. I've never met a more dedicated group of people who want nothing more than to send people home HAPPY. Thank goodness that a quality product like Honda finally has people in this city who will go out of their way to keep Honda owners happy and encourage non Honda owners to consider buying their products without silly gimmicks or unnecessary pressure-filled sales tactics. The product speaks for itself and the service at Great Lakes Honda is number one. Congratulations to Francine Floreani and the team that she's assembled! Best of luck at their new location for many years to come.
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