STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. -The Michigan Independent Automobile Dealers Association honored Jerry Drouillard and Maurice VanCoillie during its annual awards celebration at the General Motors Heritage Center here.
The event featured a display of more than 100 cars covering a century of the automaker’s history.
The association named Drouillard, of Autohaus of Royal Oak, as it’s Michigan Quality Dealer of the Year.
Joe Kuhta, of GWC Warranty, presented the state Quality Award to Drouillard, discussing his dedication and his support of the group over the years.
“He’s served on almost every committee and every position, from director to president through chairman of the board,” Kuhta said.
“He’s a devoted Christian who always goes out of his way to help family, friends, customers, neighbors and venders. He’s gone to Europe a couple of times to help build villages and homes. He really gives back in a big way.”
Drouillard, a graduate of Western Michigan University, was issued a dealer license in 1980. He’s a Bosch certified master technician and married for 45 years. Autohaus carries about 45 units on the lot, though most of its business comes from the service end, focusing on imports.
Drouillard thanked the association for the award.
“It’s a big honor,” he said.
Drouillard said he appreciated his chance to teach employees things that they had never known before.
He also acknowledged that dealers don’t always have the best reputation, but he has a response for those criticisms.
“When someone asks you, ‘How does a used-car dealer sleep at night?’ You just go and tell them, ‘On the finest sheets money can buy.’”
The second big honor of the evening– the Michigan IADA Dignity Award, went to VanCoillie, who has won about every honor a Michigan dealer could receive.
Michigan IADA President Otto Hahne, presented the award.
“(Van Coillie) is a veteran,” Hahne said. “He’s received the (association’s) President’s Award. He’s been a past president of our Michigan IADA and he’s been a Michigan Quality Dealer of the Year.
“He also has the designation of being the oldest active car dealer in the country.”
VanCoillie, 91, acquired a dealer’s license in 1947.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words,” VanCoillie said.
He opened his comments by crediting Sam Lafata for helping to first organize and start the Michigan IADA.
“But I don’t have much to say,” he said. “The business has been good to me. I thank God every day I’ve got a good family, good kids and good grandkids. I also thank God everyday for my good health.”
Coilllie’s son, Tom, offered a few words about his father and talked about numerous family members who came from across the country to attend the event.
He said his dad grew up on a farm and he encouraged that work ethic among his children at a young age.
“My mom would drop us after school (to the dealership) and we’d be down there pulling weeds and cleaning cars. So he instilled in us what he learned on a farm.”