Peter J. Janzen, founder of the company was born in 1897 in the village of Nieder-Chortizer, Russia, to Jacob T. & Justina Janzen. He was an honorable man with a strong faith, who lived and taught his family the Biblical principles of integrity. This is the heritage that has been passed on to the next generations. The family relocated to Haskett, Manitoba.
It was 1935, and the depression years of the thirty's had taken its toll. Jobs were still scarce. Unemployed as a result of the fire, he accepted Mr. A. A. Kroeker's offer to purchase a repossessed General Store in Haskett that was empty and unused at the time.
In 1936 an Imperial Oil (later called Esso) agency was available, so he added it to his store operations in Haskett. His first delivery truck was an old Model T Ford (a car converted to a truck) that carried two barrels of distillate. This was a popular tractor fuel that was sort of a mixture of gasoline and diesel fuel. In 1949, Jake Janzen, the son of Peter J. Janzen started working for the family business. Over the years, demand for petroleum products and their volumes increased modern equipment was purchased, and the Janzen Petroleum bulk fuel business was born and business grew.
A new Esso Service Station at the junction of highways 14 & 32 (the same location the GM dealership is today) was built in 1958. It was the first station in Southern Manitoba that featured inside and outside modern bright lighting; people came from surrounding communities just to look at them. Son-in-law John Sawatzky managed this Service Station from its beginning in 1958 to 1972, a total of 14 years.
The General Store in Haskett was sold to Mr. C. C. Reimer somewhere around 1958 to 1960. A few years later, in 1964, the Bulk Petroleum business, now known as Janzen Petroleum, moved from Haskett to a new location on Highway 32, seven miles south of Winkler. This was the first and only independent Bulk Fuel Plant that marketed Esso Products for Imperial Oil. It was very successful and within a few years it became Southern Manitoba's largest bulk fuel distribution center for Esso.
A Fertilizer Plant that marketed Esso Engro Fertilizers and Farm Chemicals was added to the Bulk Petroleum Plant in 1965. It was the very first plant in Southern Manitoba to offer Soil Sampling Services, Special Blended Fertilizers, and bulk delivery services right out to farmers' fields. In 1970 it was the highest volume fertilizer plant Esso had in Western Canada.
Esso did not like having a Bulk Petroleum, Fertilizer & Chemical distributor that was owned independently. As a result the relationship became strained, so in 1971 the entire business except for the Service Station was sold to Esso after a 34 year relationship.
In 1971 Peter J. Janzen (founder), John Sawatzky (son-in-law) and Jake Janzen (son) formed a new company by the name of Janzen Pontiac Buick GMC Ltd. A General Motors Pontiac Buick GMC franchise was obtained, and an addition to the Service Station was built to facilitate the new Dealership. The Service Station became part of this facility, and continued to be part of it till 2002, when the new building you see today was constructed. This also was an end to an era, ending all involvement in the petroleum business.
On December 5, 1977, Peter J. Janzen, the founder of the company unexpectedly passed away very suddenly.
After the death of Peter J. Janzen, his shares in the company were temporarily transferred to his widow, Margaret Janzen. She sold them to their son Jake Janzen, and his wife, Margaret, in 1978. Jake became the President and General Manager of the company, and is President to this day.
In 1986, Russel & Paul Janzen became actively involved in the company. They both currently hold managerial positions in the Winkler & Carman locations.
During 1989 the General Motors Pontiac Buick GMC Dealership in Carman was purchased and added to the operations of the company. At this time both sons, Russel & Paul Janzen became shareholders and took over General Management. Russel became General Manager of the Carman Dealership, and Paul became General Manager of the Winkler Dealership. Both are active in these positions to this day. They are the third generation involved in this business.
Today the company is one of the largest volume General Motors Dealerships in Southern Manitoba. It is the only Dealership that provides customers with all services required including sales, service, parts and a body shop to make it a Complete Service Dealership.