Phil Dagger, the man who turned a tiny used car lot in Colwood into the largest independent recreational and automotive vehicle empire in British Columbia has unexpectedly died, a report said.
According to the report, Dagger, aged 69, was found lying on a couch in his North Saanich home on Monday.
Born Jan. 8, 1952, in Birkenhead in England, he spent most of his childhood in the U.K. In the 1970s, he followed his parents his older sister who arrived earlier in Canada.
He was a professional chef and spent 20 years in the kitchens at a variety of well-known hotels. He opened a small restaurant in Brentwood Bay and worked 16 hours a day to make his venture profitable before hanging up his apron on December 24, 1986.
Dagger was known for his friendly nature and ability to make friends almost with everyone he meets, so he decided to sell cars.
Dagger stated in 2015 that he was “a mediocre salesman at worst.” “But that was an improvement over my absolute disaster of owning a restaurant,” the report said.
Friends still remember his early efforts fondly. Bruce Walker, who knew him for over 30 years, said that he was almost too kind to be in the automobile business. “He gave away all the profits from every car he sold. He was far too kind,” Walker said in the report.
Dagger jumped at the chance to purchase Galaxy Motors in 1990. He bought the business in a typical car-business fashion with no down payment and monthly payments of $1666.66 for two years.
He was able to purchase inventory with a $10,000 loan from his mother after all major banks turned him down.
In the last 31 years, the company has expanded to include eight operations on Vancouver Island. There are five auto and three RV dealers in Langford, Courtney, and Parksville.
Dagger worked 16 hours a day to wash and sell the cars in the beginning. The company now employs around 160 people.
Dagger’s empire grew but he never lost his personal touch, the report said.
Todd Mechalchuk is the president of operations at Galaxy Motors. He said that Dagger was an “old-school self-made” man. “He would go round the dealership every morning and lunch to say hello to salespeople, service personnel, and customers.”
According to the report, his generosity and warmth did not end there. He would host a Saturday barbecue at the dealership where he would make it his goal to have a good time with everyone.
“His business was his life, and his employees were his family.”
Dagger, who owned Galaxy at the time of his death, had formed strong bonds with his competitors. Leonard Carson, Suburban Motors’ general manager, said that Dagger was well-respected in the industry. “I will be missing his view of the industry.
According to the article, his niece, Amy Jones said that Dagger also enjoyed traveling to remote locations and playing poker. He frequently visited Las Vegas.
Dagger never married or had children. However, Jones said that Phil was like a father to him and that he “considered me his daughter, which he never had.”
Dagger was also survived by Mark Jones, Amy’s brother who is employed in Japan.
An event to celebrate life and a memorial are being planned for the end of September. A date and location will be announced, the report said.