As published in THE HEADINGLEY TIMES
The story began with a young, ambitious kid whose love for his family, hockey and cars created the drive within him to embark of the road to his success.
Walt, a native of Stratford, Ontario, began in humble surroundings and had to rely on a strong work ethic finding his first job at 12 years old, clearing table at a local restaurant. Hockey was a big part of Walt’s upbringing teaching him the importance of working as a team, loyalty and above all dedication. Walt was the Captain in his last two years of playing Junior Hockey in Ontario, leading the team to the win of the All Ontario Cup Championship. In between playing hockey and going to high school, Walt’s next job was at a tv, stereo and appliance store. Walt – “The owner had me cleaning used appliances that would come in on trade. Who would’ve thought there was money in used appliances?”
But it was through these experiences that a young, ripe eyed Walt finished high school, hung up his skates and moved onto his career in the auto industry, selling his first car at a Mazda dealership in Guelph, Ontario at 22 years old.
In 1993, Walt moved to Winnipeg seeing there was opportunity in the automotive industry. Walt worked hard, learning all the different areas of an automotive dealership with the end goal of one day owning a dealership of his own. With the leadership skills he acquired during his younger days playing hockey, Walt successfully took any dealership he was at consecutively to number one every year. His rapid ascent continued in 2005 when he partnered with an Alberta automotive group to buy Winnipeg Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram in the Pointe West Autopark. Under Walt’s leadership, it rose quickly to be number 1 on the Prairies for 12 consecutive years.
Throughout this time, Walt was working towards his own group of companies and it was in 2017 that his aspirations came to fruition, forming the Morris Group of Companies. The automotive companies include Kenora Chevrolet Buick GMC, Kenora Honda and in 2018 Walt brought a new level of luxury to Manitoba with Maserati and Alfa Romeo of Winnipeg.
The Morris Group of Companies is solely owned by Walt Morris and supported by his devoted family. Walt is extremely grateful and proud of his family as he has his loving wife Cassandra at his side along with the entire Morris family. Walt’s brother, Wade, is the Vice President and his, his wife Lucy and their family moved from Barrie, Ontario 4 years ago. Walt’s two sons, Brendan and Jared, are a strong part of managing the automotive dealerships. Walt and Wade’s parents, Gail and Dave, are also very involved in all the businesses. Most recently Walt’s cousin/”other brother”, Craig Marshall, who is Vice President of Operations, his wife Michelle and their family have now moved to Winnipeg from Mississauga, Ontario to also become part of growing the Morris Group of Companies. Many nieces and nephews also work within the organization.
Walt attributes the growth and success to not just his family but to the 150 amazing people that are employed within the organization. The Morris philosophy is “take care of your employees; and they will take care of your customers.” As a result of their “Always Promote from Within” mindset, there is great opportunity for employee growth and advancement.
When Walt isn’t busy (whenever that is), he loves spending time with his wife, their family and friends either barbequing at home or spending time at the lake doing some fishing. He can also be found pursing his passion of driving his stock car on Thursday nights at the Speedway and of course still playing hockey in the winter.
Walt passionately believes in giving back and helping the community, as he supports many charity events throughout the year. This holiday season, the Morris Group is bringing awareness and support to the Oak Table. Food, housing and clothing are three major challenges the Oak Table guests experience. It takes over 62 cans of tuna on a regular day for the Oak Table, to serve their guests. This is why the Morris Group is collecting cans of tuna as well as gently used backpacks, men’s warm winter gloves, black and grey socks, long underwear for men and women and disposable razors. There are two drop off locations, one conveniently located in Headingley at Exclusive Car & Truck Wash (400-5540 Portage Ave) as well as at the Maserati & Alfa Romeo dealership in the Waverley Automall. Walt has also set up a GoFundMe page where he is personally matching all donations made. You can find the link to the GoFundMe page at morrisgroup.ca clicking on the Oak Table logo.
Walt was a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year program. He was one of the 50 finalists chosen across Canada in 2016 for his entrepreneurial success. Walt is a trailblazer to many in his industry, but when asked what inspires him, the answer is simple.
“I would tell you it’s my parents, Gail & Dave Morris. They are pillars in the Headingley businesses helping our team with anything and everything they can. My parents are the epitome of hard working, teaching my brother and I about respect, always treating people with kindness, and that integrity is everything.”
Walt works to represent those childhood values every day. He prides himself on being the same guy at work as he is at home. His appreciation for what he’s built is obvious, but it’s a direct result of the humble beginnings that built him.