Sandy Lane Auto provides a full suite of repair services, preventative maintenance packages, vehicle inspections and tire sales and storage for all makes and models of European vehicles.
In 1927, the first Volvo was produced in Gothenburg, Sweden. In 1963, the car company opened its first plant outside Swedish borders in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The final screw on Canada’s first Volvo was tightened with a golden screwdriver wielded by Sweden’s Prince Bertil, and Sandy Lane Auto was among the first maintenance shops in Canada to specialize in Volvo repair and maintenance.
“My grandparents founded Sandy Lane Auto in 1968. My grandfather was the technician and my grandmother worked in the front as a service advisor. My father bought the company from him in 1980 and I bought the company from my father in 2006,” says Brett Morgan, the owner of the 50-year old family business.
“We started on the west end on 156 Street in the Sandy Lane shopping mall – hence the name. We were there until the late 70s, then moved to a larger location about five blocks from where we currently reside. In 1997, Sandy Lane Auto moved to this site. My father built this building.”
Although Sandy Lane Auto started as a Volvo repair and maintenance shop, the company evolved over the years to accommodate a wide variety of high-quality, European vehicles, including BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Land Rover, Porsche, and MINI® Cooper.
Sandy Lane Auto branched out in 2007 to include servicing for other European brands. Morgan points out, smiling, “Before then, we were quietly repairing those other overseas brands without advertising it.”
Word is spreading fast across the city that Sandy Lane Auto is one of the highest rated European vehicle repair shops in Edmonton. More than 100 reviews across three different, independent consumer aggregate review sites rate the shop between 4.7/5 – 5/5.
“I couldn’t be prouder of those unsolicited reviews,” Morgan beams, going on to note a few of the customer service details that keep clients coming back. “Every car we work on gets washed, vacuumed and has a light interior clean. We have a customer shuttle to ensure clients get to where they need to go while their car is in our shop.”
One thing Morgan is firm on is that he and his staff never lag behind in the fast-changing world of vehicle repair technology. “Things change dramatically year over year,” he admits, “so we keep educating our technicians. We send our people all over North America for training. I have seven people going to Dallas in April.
“Over the years, we have seen advancements in diagnostic testing tools improve. Access to education in our field has also gotten better. I like to hire local, and I am very pleased with the quality of the technicians coming out of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).”
Ongoing education is not the only thing that sets the Sandy Lane Auto crew apart. Morgan and his team know how to practically apply their knowledge, even when it contravenes a vehicle’s promotional promise.
“Some European manufactures were advocating yearly oil changes,” Morgan explains. “But the studies were done in locations where the climate is much more temperate, and they failed to mention that materials in the oil filter are not designed to last for 20,000 kilometres of driving. Annual oil changes are very hard on the vehicles engine. We are proud to be able to inform and educate our clientele to make the best possible decisions about their vehicle’s repair and maintenance.”
He continues, “We stress the importance of getting routine maintenance done. Bring your vehicle in twice a year: in the spring before those big road trips, and in the winter before the cold weather hits. This will help you avoid problems and stay safer on the road all year long.”
Sandy Lane Auto is pleased to help owners of European vehicles keep their rides in top shape, but Morgan, his family, and his team are also focused on giving back to the community by helping to erase adult illiteracy in Alberta. “My wife has volunteered for and supported the Centre for Family Literacy (CFL) for many years,” Morgan explains. “The social impact of illiteracy is evident; this was a meaningful program for us to get behind.” The company also sponsors the exotic car rally Wheels for Wellness, which is an event that raises money for the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation.
Giving back is one way Morgan stays grounded and focused. He also relies on exercise, road biking, skiing and writing. Few people know he was in the film industry for seven years, working behind the scenes on a variety of well-known hits, including Shanghai Noon. He also leans on the lessons and mentorship from the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, of which he is board member.
“These positive influences have taught me that effective leaders are first and foremost effective communicators. Learning those skills has helped me in expanding the Sandy Lane brand and supporting and building a dedicated team. I’ve also learned that work/life balance is a bit of a fallacy. Some of your best work happens when you are at work, but sometimes it happens when you are home with your family. It’s fluid. You have to be present at both ends of the spectrum.”
Morgan couldn’t be happier to be celebrating 50 years with his team in the building his father built, and with clients that have been loyal to the brand since the 60s.
“It’s such a pleasure to serve our customers,” he beams. “We have very high employee retention and a strong family atmosphere in both locations. When we reopened on the west end five years ago, we were welcomed with open arms. People remembered us from being on the west side when the company was just getting started.”
Where does Sandy Lane Auto go now? Morgan says they are driving right into the future without hesitation.
“We will continue to push the brand forward and are looking to expand outside of Edmonton. Thank you, Edmonton, for 50 years of support. We appreciate your loyalty.”