We Try the Genesis Retail Experience, for a Special Cause

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

The Genesis brand’s meteoric rise is something we haven’t seen in decades, if ever. The brand went from a few niche models within the Hyundai portfolio, to a full-fledged, multi-vehicle luxury brand in the span of 10 or so years. More importantly, it’s also a wholly competitive player in the luxury market, with vehicles like the G70, GV70, and GV60 receiving international acclaim.

The Genesis Experience

Part of the reason for the Genesis success story is the brand’s dealer network, which are not referred to as dealers. Genesis refers to the manufacturer’s stores in the United States as retailers, and in Canada they are distributors. This is just the start of the Korean luxury brand’s plan to compete with the best from Europe, Japan, and America.

To get more insight on how Genesis is trying to win customers over, we met with Ali Sobani, Senior Manager, Network Development & Financial Operations – Genesis Motors Canada. He walked us through how every retailer/distributor in the world is built to a global standard, purposely kept small and boutique like, for a more intimate environment.

All materials in the dealership from the floor tile and carpet to the chair and desk material needs to be approved by the head office. This may seem like overkill, but it ensures every prospective Genesis customer receives the same high-level experience, no matter where in the world.

It doesn’t end with the physical building either. Everything from the music played and scents in the air are controlled for a premium, calm environment. All the offices, and even some service bays, are behind open glass. This idea is modelled after top-rated Michelin restaurants that have the kitchen visible to customers.

Just the Way, You Want It

To try this experience ourselves, we travelled to the Genesis distributor in Markham, Ontario, Canada, and were greeted by Run Zheng, Genesis Experience Manager – Genesis Markham. This store north of Toronto is one of the brand’s newer buildings, having been completely stripped down and rebuilt four years ago.

Within the store is a softly lit separate room with large drawers, chairs, a big screen monitor, and a few tables. This is the starting point for the Genesis Retail Experience (GRX) in Canada, which incorporates the brand's global color, materials, and finishes (CMF) initiative.

Each drawer in the room is labelled with a particular Genesis vehicle line and contains large paint samples, seat materials, and various trim pieces. This allows customers to touch, fell, and look at the various options for the Genesis vehicle they’re looking to purchase. Taking it one step further, it’s also possible to put a virtual rendition of the vehicle they are looking at, outfitted the way they want, on the big-screen monitor, for an even better visual representation.

As well, for those unable to visit a Genesis retailer/distributor, an employee can bring a smaller, portable kit right to your house for a similar experience.

Why We’re Here: To Support Those Who Need It

The reason we are at the distributor in Markham isn’t just to see how the system works, we’re also experiencing it first-hand. This summer, my father, my son, and I will once again be heading out on another Rally North America adventure rally, to raise money for an incredibly worthy charity. This year we are fundraising for Camp Sunshine, but more on that in a bit as it’s near and dear to my heart.

For this year's event event, we will be driving a 2025 Genesis GV80 that we're 'ordering' through the Genesis Retail Experience. In stark contrast to most users of the CMF system, we decided to let my 8-year-old son configure the SUV to his liking. To my surprise, his first choice was bright, yet tasteful. He selected the flashy Mauna Red exterior paint with an Olive Ash interior and Nappa leather seats.

Unfortunately, that combination is dropped for the refreshed 2025 GV80 SUV. So, plan B is a Capri Blue vehicle with a new-for-the-model-line Bordeaux Brown leather interior featuring grey accents.

Hitting the Open Road to Help Those in Need

With our vehicle sorted and ordered, I’ll dive deeper into the organization and charity. Those interested in learning more about Rally North America can read about it here. In short, it’s a start up fundraiser charity created by a few friends nearly 15 years ago. It focuses on adventure road trips to raise money, and to date has raised over $2,500,000 total. Each year, around 80 teams head out on a 3-4 day journey across lesser-travelled parts of North America.

The goal of each event is to raise money for a given charity, with each team responsible for soliciting as many donations as they can. This year we are representing one of the best charities I’ve ever had contact with, Camp Sunshine.

Why Camp Sunshine Matters

Based in Casco Maine, Camp Sunshine is a facility designed to assist, support, and help alleviate the struggles of families with children suffering from rare and/or terminal illnesses. Rather than try to describe it myself, below is a summary from the organization’s website:

“Camp Sunshine inspires hope in families affected by life-threatening childhood illness through our unique, supportive program at its beautiful campus on Maine’s Sebago Lake. When a child faces serious illness, the entire family is affected. Camp Sunshine's program is offered year-round and has the distinction of having been designed to serve the entire family in a retreat model.

In 2024, Camp Sunshine is celebrating 40 years of providing hope, joy and community through unique experiences for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Since 1984, more than 60,000 ill children, siblings, parents, and caregivers from all 50 states and 27 countries have come to Camp Sunshine."

The Entire Family is Affected

Each week at Camp Sunshine is usually dedicated to a different, specific, severe, or terminal childhood illness. During the week, parents can attend any number of information/support sessions regarding their child’s disease. More than that, parents get to meet and interact with our other parents facing the same challenges as them, with the hopes of building a support network.

As well, children suffering from the illness get to meet, interact, and play with others in the same situation – something that doesn’t often happen for rarer diseases. Siblings of those affected are not left out either, as they get a week to just be kids, participating in several activities with others who understand what their family is going through.

Families attend the camp free of charge and each gets their own suite complete with bedrooms, a kitchenette, and lounge are. This is why donations are so crucial.

We Need Your Help

As a father, I can’t even try to understand the anguish and helplessness one must feel when their child is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. It’s why I support this camp in its entirety and fully believe in what they do.

If you’d like to support Camp Sunshine, 100% of the money donated goes to Camp Sunshine. Even if it’s just $5, every bit helps. Please click the button below to donate through our team's fundraising page. Thank you.

Donate to Camp Sunshine Here

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Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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