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Andy Lankester and Ashley Henry retire after 35 years in auto industry

Both were part of Harris Oceanside dealership upper management for 14 years
Andy Lankester and Ashley Henry, of Harris Oceanside Chevrolet Buick GMC, accept the award for 2021 Automotive Business of the Year on Vancouver Island. (Submitted photo)

Andy Lankester and Ashley Henry have retired after 35 years in the auto industry, including 14 at Harris Oceanside Chevrolet Buick General Motors in Parksville.

Lankester, the dealership’s managing partner, said he is thankful to partner Mike Harris for providing the opportunity to become an owner. He and Harris plan to continue with their other business, Parksville Qualicum Self Storage.

“The people at Harris Oceanside, all the staff an employees, are friends and family now. It’s my second home,” said Henry, who retired from her role as finance director.

Henry’s plans for retirement include taking it easy for a bit and working on a software project.

Lankester said when he and Henry started working at the dealership in 2009, General Motors had just come out of bankruptcy following the financial crisis.

“Customer confidence in the brand was at an all-time low,” he said. “So the store was not performing very well and so we had some work to do.”

He added he is happy with the business’s upward trajectory since that time.

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Lankester added they were proud to be named “Best in Auto” at the Business Examiner Awards in 2021 and “Best Large Business” at the Parksville Chamber of Commerce Awards a few years earlier.

He also served as vice-president of the chamber for approximately six years.

Lankester said they were happy to support causes such as the Marion Baker Fish Hatchery.

“We feel like we’ve supported the community, like the community’s supported us,” he said.

Both said they are grateful to the staff they worked with over the years.

“Getting to know them and having them in my life was just a huge bonus for us,” Henry said.

Harris Oceanside welcomed Chris Nicol as new general manager earlier this month.

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