The Western Equipment Dealers Assn. (WEDA) is pleased to announce that Derek Stimson of Rocky Mountain Equipment is the 2015 Canadian Dealer of the Year.

Stimson started his career in the industry at the age of 14, as a service technician in his father Jack’s dealership, Hi-Way Service, located in Taber, Alta. At the age of 18, he attended the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology for 4 years and was working full-time at Hi-Way Service and had involvement and exposure to every aspect of the business.

From his father, Stimson learned the most important and fundamental lesson for success in this business — it was the importance of relationships, of treating customers as people first, and of building lasting relationships with them. In 1979, Stimson succeeded his father as the dealer principle and using his business acumen he turned his dealership into a major player in the southern Alberta equipment landscape.

Stimson was one of the first equipment dealers in western Canada to recognize the efficiencies and opportunities that came with a multi-location dealership network. In 1988, he added the Lethbridge Case IH dealership and over the next 8 years purchased neighboring CaseIH dealerships in southern Alberta. By 1996, Hi-Way Service had expanded to a total of 7 locations.

In 2007, Hi-Way Service and Hammer Equipment joined forces and created Rocky Mountain Dealerships Inc. A publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Rocky Mountain Dealerships Inc. changed the equipment distribution landscape overnight. Stimson was made president of this new venture and, along with his new business partner, Rocky’s CEO Matt Campbell, he spent the next 7 years acquiring and merging more than a dozen independent CNH dealers across the Canadian Prairies. In the years since the IPO, Rocky’s revenue, store count and employee base has tripled in size, totaling 40 dealerships to date.

When Stimson retired as president in February 2015, Rocky Mountain Equipment’s total annual sales were approximately $1 billion. Stimson currently holds the title as vice-chairman of the board of directors and continues to be a major shareholder. The equipment industry is still in his blood as he lends a hand in this new stage in his life by teaching those in Rocky’s employ the fundamental lesson taught to him by his father; foster relationships and treat customers as people first.

To this day Stimson is seen as a role model for the hundreds of employees in his expanding Case IH dealership network. His dealerships were repeatedly awarded for their sales performance and financial viability, winning multiple "Top North American Dealer" awards during the '70s, '80s and '90s. At a Case IH event in 1981, Stimson was presented with the prestigious "Case Most 100 Plus Power Tractors — Including 4 Wheel Drive & Cruise" Award which was presented by entertainer Bob Hope.

Stimson’s continual hard work has left a lasting legacy for the people and communities he has worked in. His success as an entrepreneur was respected by local communities. His Case IH dealership locations have become landmarks in the southern Alberta landscape, and they have become known across North America as examples of sales excellence and efficiency.

Stimson has also felt very keen on giving back to his community — helping to leave another legacy of a different kind. To that end, he started AGCAT and served on the board of directors, and donates to many local charities, including St. Augustine Anglican Church, Operation Smile, the Humane Society, Parkinson Alberta South, the Canadian Red Cross and the Salvation Army, to name a few.

The award will be presented to Stimson at WEDA’s 2016 annual dealer conference, which will be held in Phoenix, Ariz. The Dealer of the Year Award is named in honor of Bill Lipsey, former executive vice president of the Canada West Equipment Dealers Assn., who died prematurely of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 1998. The award recognizes an individual dealer for their leadership within the industry, their dedication toward growing their business into a successful entity and their commitment and legacy to their community.