Tom Bachynski’s time as owner of Central GM has come to an end after 22 years of service.
On Dec. 1, Bachynski turned over the keys to the car lot to Dylan Gustafson – of Gustafson’s Central – winding up a career that began in 1998 when he bought the dealership. He’s proud of the business he’s left behind, which started small and has “grown exceptionally” over the years, including the construction of a new building in 2009.
He particularly prides himself on the fact that Central GM became well known in the province as a good and honest place to do business.
“I’ve met some incredibly interesting people over the years. I’ve got a million stories,” Bachynski recalled fondly.
Business-wise, he said he has had his ups and downs, which included starting at the dealership a few days after Ainsworth closed its 100 Mile sawmill on Exeter Road, and navigating the 2008 financial crisis. The 2017 wildfires also delayed his retirement plans by a few years.
However, he said he has enjoyed his time at Central GM.
The best part of the job was the camaraderie with his staff and the chances to get involved in the community, he said, which made him feel like “I never had to work a day while I was in 100 Mile.
“It’s been a wonderful career. It’s a shame it has to end, but it has to end at some point.”
While he still loves the industry, Bachynski said he felt it was time to step aside and let other young people enter the industry. The staff should help keep his legacy going and help Gustafson establish his own.
“It’s certainly going to be a more aggressive direction for sure,” Bachynski said.
Gustafson, 32, was literally raised in the car dealership industry, joking that he believes his dad Kerry was using him to sell cars when he was in diapers. Gustafson started washing cars after school to earn enough money to buy a mountain bike or a hockey stick and eventually went to Georgian College in Ontario for its automotive course.
He spent the past decade working at his family’s Kia dealership in Prince George and is happy to be moving back to the Cariboo, as he was born and raised in Williams Lake. He intends to buy a house in Williams Lake and make the commute to 100 Mile every day.
Over the last week and a half, between moving and commuting, he thinks he’s put almost 3,000 km on his truck.
“I love that drive. There’s something about it in the morning when the sun is coming up. It’s relaxing. On the drive home, you can think about work and de-stress,” Gustafson said.
The main reason he purchased the business is because it’s closer to his family’s other stores – Gustafson’s Dodge Chrysler Jeep and Gustafson’s Kia – in Williams Lake. The GM brand is a nice addition, Gustafson said. This is his family’s first real acquisition since 1999 when they bought into the Kia brand.
“My brother Trevor and I are at the age now where we really want to get into the business and help out,” Gustafson said.
While he’s only been in charge for three weeks, Gustafson said it feels a lot longer. The big issue right now is inventory problems because due to the pandemic, there’s not a lot of cars being manufactured or produced right now. Currently, he only has three heavy-duty trucks in the lot and he’d like to get it to the point where he has 50 in stock.
“Every manufacturer and every brand is having the same problem, that’s probably the biggest issue we’re facing, lack of product,” Gustafson said. “All the manufacturers say early in the new year they’re going to start producing more vehicles.”
Gustafson said he intends to carry on his family’s 30-year tradition of offering the best deals he can while working with the community. The sense he’s been getting from just walking around 100 Mile’s downtown is that it’s a welcoming community, which he finds very encouraging.
He hopes to not only hit his goals in the years to come but also surpass them.
As for Bachynski, he’d like to take a few months to himself to figure out what to do next, maybe take some time to hunt, fish and play golf in the future. In the meantime, he plans to just sit back and relax and plan the construction of his retirement home on Green Lake. He’ll also be looking for somewhere with sunshine and palm trees to spend the winters.
“I think retirement after this year will include retiring my snow shovels,” he said.