Small Business Canada

CanadianSME sat down with Hans Blesse, President of BMW Canada to learn more about his passion for BMW Canada.

You spent most of your career working at BMW. What is it about the organization that attracts you?

Ever since I was young, I’ve loved cars and always had a special place in my heart for BMWs; aside from that, however, I think what I admire most about this organization is the culture of success that continues to define BMW. We have great people working not only here in Canada, but around the globe who continue to foster a winning mentality. As well, our products are world-class and BMW’s engineering continues to be among the best in the industry. These are things that make this company very easy to stand behind.

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You actively went searching for the best dealer. What were you hoping to learn from them that you didn’t already know?

At the time, I was young and looking to enhance my skillset more than anything. With a background as a mechanical technician, experience within the automotive industry and a love of the BMW brand, it was a perfect fit. I wanted to learn from the best. The other thing that drew me to Vancouver was the opportunity to work in a new market. Uprooting and moving to a new place always presents a challenge, but it is great for personal growth.

In your opinion, what does BMW stand for? What do people think of when the BMW brand is mentioned?

BMW has dedicated itself to producing the “Ultimate Driving Experience,” and I believe the thrill of driving is one of the first things that comes to mind when someone sets eyes on the BMW roundel. Whenever I talk to fans, they always comment on things such as driving dynamics, handling or the excitement they feel when they put their vehicle in sport mode. Ultimately for me, the genuine feeling of joy I get when I’m behind the wheel of a BMW is second to none – no matter if it’s combustion-powered, or electrified.

BMW Group celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. What do you believe are the factors that make BMW stay above the competition?

When you look at successful companies throughout history, one thing that stands out is they all have some kind of goal or a clear vision of how they are going to be the best. Not only has BMW remained focused on this over the years, but we continue to do it to this very day. Our unwavering commitment to innovative technology development has allowed us to become one of the leading premium mobility and technology companies in the world. This has allowed us to not only predict the future but create it. With Strategy NUMBER ONE>NEXT, our corporate roadmap for the next 100 years that is set to future proof the company, BMW will redefine premium mobility in ways that will actively shape and transform the industry.

What are some of the strategies you use to help you in your role as President and CEO of BMW Group Canada?

One thing that I focus on, more than anything, is to have a customer-centric mindset. Do we have world-class products? Without a doubt we do. From personal mobility to fleet services, we truly have great products to suit any need, but that is only one piece of the puzzle. You have to ask yourself: “what is the experience like shopping for and owning a BMW?” The “Ultimate Driving Experience” walks hand-in-hand with the “Ultimate Ownership Experience.” Put the customer experience first and the rest will fall into place.

How do you believe your past experience has prepared you for your current role?

I have been fortunate enough to work for and with some amazing people, and there is no denying this has helped prepare me for where I am today. However, I was also driven to work in as many facets of the business as possible, from Motorrad to aftersales. As well, I wanted to ensure I could experience BMW in its entire global scope – from head office in Munich to a service bay in Vancouver – to truly understand how we operate. Not many get the chance to see the entire footprint, and I would say, in its entirety, that really prepared me for where I am today.

In your expert opinion, what is the best vehicle that BMW has launched and why?

Our product portfolio has been and will continue to be truly remarkable, especially – as it is currently – during our largest product offensive in company history. Because of this, it is quite difficult for me to pick just one vehicle over our 100 plus year history. I do, however, have some favourites. The 3 Series Cabriolet (E46) still gives me goosebumps to this day. I remember once in 2006 as a Regional Technical Manager driving up the Trans-Canada Highway in this amazing automobile with the biggest smile on my face, thinking how great my job was. However, one of our most underappreciated cars in recent history, especially here in North America, would have to be the all-electric BMW i3. It was a vehicle that essentially started the premium EV segment and is still a technological tour-de-force. An all carbon fibre EV with sustainably sourced material for under $50,000 is an engineering triumph any car-maker would be proud of. I’m also very fond of BMW Motorrad, but don’t get me started!

Finally, what does the future of BMW look like? Where do you see the organization heading 10 years from now?

With a focus on leadership in vehicle autonomy, connectivity, electrification and shared services, I foresee BMW transforming from a purely automotive company to an integrated premium technology and mobility solutions provider. In this manner, we would have the ability to completely support our customers in the digital ways and means they would expect from major global tech companies. Currently, BMW finds itself in its largest product offensive in company history, and with the continued growth of our product portfolio along with leadership in digital products and services, we are in a great position to further our position as one of the leading premium global automotive companies.

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