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Sean Riley, AMBA '21, Owner of Don Mills Chrysler, Uxbridge Ford, Markville Ford, and Donway Ford, on going all in and betting on growth

Sean Riley, AMBA '21, has always been focused on growth, having worked his way up from sales to management to managing partner of a Ford dealership in Markham, Ont. His growth did not stop here, however, and he went on to acquire three additional dealerships over the last five years.

With a successful formula he could transplant to the various dealerships, Riley saw a lot of potential for increased revenues with each new deal – even purchasing two of those four dealerships during the COVID-19 pandemic and while completing his Accelerated MBA at Ivey. 

While that timing wasn’t ideal, Riley decided to dive headfirst into those challenges, determined to push ahead and leave behind the disappointment of a previous deal that had fallen through because of circumstances outside of his control.

“I felt like I had maximized the current opportunities – I had some phenomenal people in place that were managing the dealerships and there was really not a lot more that I felt that I could do without micromanaging,” says Riley, now owner of Don Mills Chrysler, Uxbridge Ford, Markville Ford, and Donway Ford.

“I was in the process of buying a third dealership back in 2019, and when that deal fell through, I was extremely demotivated, frustrated. At that point, I decided to pursue my MBA and as I applied for and accepted the MBA another opportunity came up and I decided to do both in parallel.”

Riley went on to buy that Donway Ford dealership in Scarborough while in the program, as well as a fourth that came up afterward – a Chrysler dealership that had closed because of the pandemic.

“I feel like I have a formula that is transferable, specifically with Ford because of my familiarity with it, so I felt that I was able to transplant my ideas and concepts,” he says.

At Ivey, Riley and his learning group workshopped the Donway Ford deal for one of their curriculum projects, the IFP, assessing a business he purchased two months into the program.

“That business in particular was a very underperforming location, with very poor customer satisfaction; there was a lot to overhaul there,” he says.

“With my learning team, we dissected it, we mystery shopped it, we analyzed the market, we looked at where the areas of opportunity were – it was good to be able to tie the curriculum right into a real-life scenario.” 

Looking back at his time at Ivey, Riley says the program helped him expand his existing knowledge, allowed him to become part of a network of supportive and like-minded peers, and provided him with valuable time management skills.

“It exposed me to some different ways of analyzing businesses, so I was able to incorporate some of that methodology to my thought process.” 

AMBA '21

Ivey Business School

Sean Riley

Sean Riley

Owner, Don Mills Chrysler, Uxbridge Ford, Markville Ford, and Donway Ford

Toronto, Canada

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