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Amy Irwin, Jordan Milevski and Kiah Thorpe celebrate the 50th anniversary of the family owned Dick Irwin Group.

INSIDE:

PHOTO CINDY GOODMAN

Davies Pharmacy

! 50 years for the ‘great great guy’ group ! Terry Fox van steals the show ! ICBC targets test cheaters

A special feature of the


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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2019

50 years selling cars for Dick Irwin Group

ANDY PREST aprest@nsnews.com

You may not know much of the history of the family-owned auto group that has been selling cars on the North Shore for 50 years, but if you’re of a certain age, you almost certainly will remember the jingle.

“Dick Irwin, what a great, great guuuuyyy.” It’s one of those snippets that is so cheesy and yet so catchy at the same time, and for many it is one of the lasting images of the Dick Irwin Group, a North Shore institution that started back in 1969. “It was corny enough that people would listen to it, and it had a catchy jingle,” says Jack Irwin, Dick’s son. “(The commercials) were all comedy. Just annoying enough to keep your attention.” Jack now runs Pacific Honda while his brother Rick Irwin is in charge over at North Shore Kia. That jingle was a cheesy classic for many North Shore residents, but for the Irwin children it’s a reminder of their father, the company’s namesake, who passed away in 2002. “He was very good at what he did,” says Jack of his father, the great great guy. “He always thought of the customer – he was strong on ethics.” Dick Irwin certainly earned his way into the auto business. Dick grew up in Edmonton, one of three children raised by a single mother.

“He and his sister and brother, they all worked just to support the household,” says Jack. “He was driving a tow truck part-time in high school, and then went directly into the car business as soon as he got out of school.” Dick sold cars for Edmonton Motors and was married at age 18, a father by age 19. He worked his way up to sales manager at Edmonton’s Healy Ford and then started to look for opportunities to start his own dealership. “He really enjoyed the car business,” says Jack. “He was a natural – very, very good at it.” In 1969 Dick and wife Barbara moved their four children to North Vancouver where he had an opportunity to take over a ChevroletOldsmobile dealership. “It was either move out to North Vancouver to buy a Chevrolet dealership … or a Ford dealership in Toronto. Fortunately he picked North Vancouver,” says Jack with a laugh. While that dealership thrived under Dick’s leadership, Rick and Jack, the two eldest sons, played a big role in the company’s interesting expansion in 1974, when the family purchased a Shakey’s Pizza location on Marine Drive that was about to go bankrupt. The two boys, both in their 20s, gutted the place, ripping out the pizza oven and bar so that a contractor could set up a few offices and a tiny showroom. After the

quick renovation they opened their doors and started selling Hondas, although for more than a year people would keep coming in looking for some of Shakey’s famous fare. “People would still come in looking to buy pizza even though we had a Honda sign up,” says Jack. “We’d get phone calls – we didn’t have Shakey’s number, but for some reason they’d call anyway and say ‘Do you still do that pizza thing?’” That was the start of Pacific Honda, which expanded twice in that location before moving to the new Northshore Auto Mall in 2001. The company added Westwood Honda in Port Moody in 1978 and North Shore Kia in 2002. They had another plot of land in the Auto Mall ready for the Chev-Olds dealership, but GM bought that shop back

See Great page 27

Jack Irwin (driver’s seat) – shown here with Dick Irwin Group teammates Vinh Nguyen, Jordan Milevski, Justin Acheson, Kiah Thorpe and Danika Jimenez – keeps business rolling in the company founded by his father, the original ‘great great guy.’ PHOTO CINDY GOODMAN

Dick Irwin Chev-Olds held a prime location on Marine Drive in North Vancouver for many years. PHOTO SUPPLIED

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Ali Asharioun runs a diagnostic test at Pacific Honda. The Dick Irwin Group also includes North Shore Kia and Westwood Honda in Port Moody. PHOTO CINDY GOODMAN

‘Great great guy’ got it all started in North Van in 1969 From page 26 just before the move. Pacific Honda, which started out with three service bays, a showroom and a couple of offices inside a 3,500-square-foot converted pizza shop, now boasts a 35,000-square-foot building on 2.5 acres in the Auto Mall. In 2016 North Shore Kia moved from Marine Drive to a new state-of-the-art space on West First Street just a stone’s throw from the Auto Mall. The dealerships have changed drastically over the years but Jack likes to think the company has the same family feel that it had when

Dick got it all started 50 years ago. All four of Dick Irwin’s children worked in the business in some capacity, and three of Jack’s nieces and two sons-in-law are adding a third generation to the mix. The auto business has been an interesting one right from the start, says Jack, but it hasn’t all been a smooth ride. “We’ve met a lot of great people, great customers,” he says. “But we’ve also gone through a lot of tough times, you know. How many recessions have we had? 1981 in particular – that was touch and go. It was really tough

back then.” The one constant has been the employees working alongside the Irwin family, says Jack, adding that several of them have been with the company for decades. “It’s all about the staff, it’s all about the people you work with,” he says. “That’s the main driver. Without them, we’d be nowhere.” Overall it’s been a great business, says Jack. “It’s the kind of thing that you can go to work every day and you’re going to experience something new,” he says. “It’s been fun.”

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nsnews.com north shore news

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2019

Van of Hope takes centre stage at Vancouver International Auto Show LINDSAY WILLIAM-ROSS Contributing writer

Amid the latest highpowered models, innovative eco-friendly whips, and something called the “Hoonicorn,” it was a 1980 Ford Econoline van that stole the show at this year’s Vancouver International Auto Show.

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The “Van of Hope” that helped Terry Fox during his Marathon of Hope trek across Canada was the star of the show last weekend. PHOTOS SUPPLIED VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW to have such a strong personal and emotional attachment to Terry and the Marathon of Hope,” said Fox. Lindsay William-Ross is the managing editor of Vancouver Is Awesome, a sister publication of the North Shore News in the Glacier Media chain.

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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2019

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Cheaters never win with ICBC knowledge test ANDY PREST aprest@nsnews.com

If there is one test that you don’t want to cheat on, for the safety of yourself and everyone you’ll ever encounter on the road, it’s your driver knowledge test.

That, however, hasn’t stopped some people from trying to get sneaky as they take their official knowledge test given as part of the licensing process, according to a recent release from ICBC. The provincial insurer shared some photos and video of people trying

This $200 “answer key” provided no help for its purchaser.

to cheat on their knowledge test. While acknowledging that cheating was quite rare, ICBC spokeswoman Joanna Linsangan added that it is an important issue given the shared responsibility all drivers have on the road. “You’re behind a 4,000-pound vehicle. You should learn how to operate it properly,” she said. “We all play by the same rules. That’s how we prevent crashes or bad incidents from happening. … Learning how to drive properly, learning the rules of the road is critical to prevent crashes from happening, to prevent you from getting into a crash and ending up in hospital or putting someone else there as well. This is not a test that you want to cheat on because you’ll be using it potentially daily for a large portion of your life.” The most common cheat is the use of a cellphone to try to look up answers or ask for help from a friend. This occurs despite clear instructions at the start of the test stating that no electronic devices are allowed during the test, as well as a constant message on the screen during the test stating the same. Videos and photos provided by ICBC show several people trying to hide their phone use. ICBC employees, however, are always on the lookout for phone peeks, and the test areas are also monitored by video surveillance. In an age where

Spring

many people have a constant itch to check social media, the ICBC knowledge test is one situation in which the phone must be left in the pocket. “The average test is 26 minutes,” said Linsangan. “I’m sure we can all take a break for 26 minutes.” Some cheaters get even more creative, although potentially less clever. One man came to a test with an answer key that he had purchased for $200. He didn’t get a chance to use it because it was quickly spotted by employees, but even if he did, it wouldn’t have helped with the test. “It was not helpful at all,” said Linsangan. “The questions are completely randomized. Even the answers themselves, we switch the order around. There is no way that an answer key would be helpful in that situation.” Those caught cheating once get a 30-day suspension from taking the test, a second cheat gets a 60-day suspension. All cheaters are also flagged by ICBC, meaning all future interactions with the insurance provider, including claims, will be looked at with greater scrutiny. And cheaters also get the fun of having a chat with an ICBC officer before any future test to remind them of the consequences of cheating. Linsangan added that cheating is not at all necessary because ICBC provides all information needed

Surveillance video captured this man trying to sneak a peek at his phone during the ICBC knowledge test. He earned a fail. PHOTOS SUPPLIED ICBC free of charge and in a variety of forms, including knowledge books, online content and an app. Those studying for the exam can take an online practice test as many times as they want to see how much knowledge is sinking in. “All the information is free and available on our website,” said Linsangan. “You’ve just got to put in

the time.” Karen Nelson, who manages the North Vancouver driver licensing office, said it’s just not worth it for new drivers to try to cheat. “Be prepared and take the time to invest in your own safety and the safety of your family and friends,” she said. “Someday, this test has the potential to save your life.”

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