Ian Speckman (Special to The News)

Ian Speckman (Special to The News)

Well-known Maple Ridge businessman dies suddenly

Speckman gained notoriety for his Maple Ridge Chrysler advertising

A celebrity businessman from Maple Ridge has died suddenly.

Ian Speckman, who had a long career in the automotive industry, passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 3, at the age of 60.

Speckman was the well known for the advertising for his Maple Ridge Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership, which regularly played on the radio and on television.

The catchy commercials included back-and-forth banter about vehicles, and always ended with the line “We’re closer than you think.” His ads played during such high-profile events as the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the World Series.

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He was the dealer principal at Maple Ridge Chrysler from 2005, and also dealer of Maple Ridge Fiat and Volkswagen dealerships for shorter terms.

Speckman moved to the Okanagan in the spring of 2018, and was a dealer partner at Kelowna Chevrolet. He was a car salesman who had worked for 37 years in the industry.

The many messages of condolences to his family speak about what a personable and fair businessman he was.

“He was probably the most genuine human being I’ve ever met in my life. He wanted to make an impact on people’s lives, and lift everyone up,” said Jason Wandler who was the sales manager at the Kelowna dealership, and a close friend of Speckman. “He was that way in his personal life, and in his business.”

Wandler called him a legend in the automotive industry, for the success of his businesses, and mentoring other people in the industry.

“He was the king of marketing,” he said, adding that Speckman went from running one of the most successful Chrysler dealerships in Canada, to creating the biggest GM store in B.C..

“He was a difference-maker.”

Former Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said he knew Speckman as both a businessman who brought in customers from across the region, and booster of his home town. He said Speckman gave significant funds to the Maple Ridge Community Foundation, to help pay for school meals for children.

“He was really supportive,” said Daykin. “He was a community minded guy who obviously enjoyed success.”

Speckman and his wife Lena had three sons – Alex, Joel and Luke. He is also survived by his mother Janneke, brother Rick and sister May.

A celebration of life will be held on Aug. 27 at noon at the Evangel Church in Kelowna, and in lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to Speckman’s favourite charity, the Canucks Autism Network.

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