The Hully Gully Story – 1971 to Today
Hully Gully and Collins Family of Companies are committed to offering our customers a standard of service and quality second to none. We strive to adhere to Values we believe are the cornerstone to a positive shopping experience and family friendly service.
The Holstein-Friesian Association of Canada could have no idea back in 1971 that the HullyGully herd prefix that they approved for Randy and Audrey Collins of Varna, Ontario would grow into a 25,000 sq. ft. lifestyle showroom known as The Ultimate Toy Store. It all started with a young couple renting a snowmobile to ride on their farm one winter weekend back in the late 1960s.
Randy and Audrey Collins had grown up in the relatively flat area of Windsor, Ontario across the border from Detroit, Michigan. It was an automotive city with not much winter. Randy had grown up on a dairy farm but had been working as a pipe fitter at Chrysler Canada prior to the adventurous step of the family with young children buying a farm. They moved 3 hours north to Varna which is located in the snowbelt east of Lake Huron. There was a gully right near the farmhouse that along with the song The Hully Gully Baby inspired the naming of their farm and herd.
The family grew to love snowmobiling and there was just so much snow. It wasn’t long until they were selling and servicing snowmobiles from the barn. In a few years the business Hully Gully would replace the farm Hully Gully and the farm would become home to the track and events of many kinds. It would start with snowmobiles but would grow to show and sell products and services for all the powersport industry.
In setting out their business philosophy many years ago the Collins family encouraged staff to promote Hully Gully’s image every minute of every day:
CLEAN, FAMILY FUN, QUALITY PRODUCTS & SERVICES, PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDE AND COUNTRY HOSPITALITY. Hully Gully was a happening place.
Snowaramas were held with special guest wrestler Whipper Billy Watson with money raised going to help children with physical disabilities through the Easter Seal Society. One of the snowmobile races featured the Huron Cup that was always presented by the local Huron County member of federal parliament. SnowCross racing took place on the Motocross tracks and there were also Snowmobile Grass Drags that sometimes featured a snowmobile skimming across the pond during the half-time show. All 5 members of the Collins family raced snowmobiles on the oval track and in the grass drags. Audrey Collins was the top lady driver in 1972 in MOSRA (Midwestern Ontario Snowmobile Racing Association). Hully Gully was a dealer for Chaparral, Roloflex, Arctic Cat (largest dealer in Canada from 1979 to 1981) and Yamaha. Through the years along with the above events there were motorcycle rides, Bunny Bundle canoe races, mini-bike races in the hayfield, snowmobile trail rides, Christmas Miracle Toy & Food Drives and much more. For example on October 18, 2003 at a special event there were 255 riders on 215 motorcycles gathered for the 7th Annual Hully Gully Fall Colour Ride that raised $16,703 for the Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario. The cool and at times wet conditions reduced the usual number of participants on the ride through the beautiful countryside that was followed back at Hully Gully by a free hot meal, cake (8 feet long) and thousands of dollars in prizes. Over $155,000 has been raised for sick children in the past 14 rides. This exceptional support was part of the reason that Randy Collins was awarded the Golden Jubilee Medal for community service in 2002. The medal was commissioned by the Canadian government in recognition of Queen Elizabeth’s 50th Anniversary.
The London Road Runners dirt bike club asked Hully Gully to be the venue for one of their Enduro events in the early 1970s and it was the beginning of Hully Gully’s long and illustrious relationship with motorcycles. The Collins family set out to build a top quality Motocross track around their pond. It had a clay base and featured an underground irrigation system, starting gate, spectator bridge and control tower. The track began to host sanctioned Motocross events in the mid 1970s. There was a House League program for amateur racing on Saturdays and professional racing on Sundays. All five Collins family members competed in motorsport racing with Chuck Collins rising to Expert ranks of Motocross by the age of 16. By the early 1980s Hully Gully was hosting national Motocross events progressing from the Junior Schoolboy Nationals to the Senior Nationals and Experts Nationals. The 1983 Nationals was televised on CTV Wide World of Sports. This was the first televised outdoor Motocross Nationals Championship. Active support is still provided by Hully Gully to the racing community.
Another area of interest that developed in the early 1980s was ATV racing. It came out of Snowcross and saw the formation of the OATVA (Ontario All Terrain Vehicle Association). Hully Gully put on the first ATV indoor race in the Canada Building at the Western Fairgrounds in London. Chuck and Randy Collins also partnered in CRC Productions that organized ATV and Motocross racing at area fairgrounds from 1985 to 1987.
A second Hully Gully store was opened 50 miles south of Varna in London in 1986. Hully Gully was a dealer for Kawasaki, Hodaka, CZ-JAWA, Honda and Suzuki in it’s earlier years and is currently a Yamaha dealer having started with Yamaha in 1981. A new era began in 1988 when the two stores merged into one store in London.
Hully Gully’s first marine involvement was in selling and renting canoes and paddle boats in the early 1970s and being a dealer for Misty River Aluminum Boats. Hully Gully is currently Ontario’s largest full line Yamaha dealer having become a Yamaha PWC dealer in the mid 1980s. Hully Gully has been a dealer for Princecraft, Cutter / Profisher and OMC inboard / outboards.
Hully Gully marine division expanded in the late 1990s with the addition of the Mercruiser line of stern drives and Monark aluminum boats. The marine division moved forward in 1999 as a dealer for Crownline, a premium built boat with a line of family runabouts and cruisers, and then to an even higher level in 2001 with the move in March to their new London location with a 25,000 sq. ft. lifestyle showroom followed by the September opening of an Outdoor Lifestyle Showroom, 22,000 sq. ft. of fishing and boating adventure and fun. At the same time Hully Gully also expanded their line-up by becoming Western Ontario’s exclusive Tracker boats dealer and a Mercury dealer. In October 2002 Hully Gully was accepted as a Bayliner dealer and a Princecraft dealer. In the spring of 2003 another Marine Outdoor Lifestyle Showroom of over 20,000 sq. ft. was opened and significant improvements were made to storage facilities and detailing areas. Most staff members have passed the test given by the Canadian Power & Sail Squadron and have their boating proficiency cards.
With a huge showroom and a marine storage facility for over 100 boats Hully Gully is becoming one of the premier marine facilities in southwestern Ontario. The showroom has a true to life Muskoka Boat House with 80 feet of dock. A sand dune and beach mural serve as backdrop for the runabouts while a family water skiing mural covers the wall by the cruiser area. The mural by the aluminum fishing boats features an evergreen and rock scene. There is a greatly expanded selection of marine accessories with larger service facilities.
Fall of 2002 saw an expanded service counter with a new service entrance and reception area. Service customers are now cared for by 4 full-time service support team members.
After 40+ years in the recreation business the Collins family is pleased to be operating Hully Gully The Ultimate Toy Store from its large London location. The first 32 months at this expanded location saw the Hully Gully Team expand from 16 to 48 employees with annual sales reaching $19.5 million including 2,682 units. This facility is the largest motorsport showroom in Ontario and was Canada’s first motorsport lifestyle showroom. There are over 200 units and thousands of accessories and services available for fishing boats, personal watercraft, jet boats, outboard motors, dirt bikes, street bikes, touring bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles, snowblowers, lawnmowers, generators and more. These activities represent a wonderful lifestyle enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Canadians of all ages. This exciting facility and the special events throughout the year combine to give Hully Gully customers a comfortable, informative, high value buying and owning experience making Hully Gully without question one of the Top 100 dealers in North America in the powersport industry.
Collins Family of Companies Values
Commitment To Customer Enthusiasm
We treat our customers as guests and strive to continually exceed their expectations of quality products and services. Proper and continuing communication within the dealership and between customers and team members is as essential as the product or service. Our image is one of country hospitality and clean, family fun.
Commitment to Excel
Give the customer the best by selling value added in all our products and services. Success in anything is in proportion to effort. In each market that we enter we study, listen, set our goals and objectives and enthusiastically work with a professional attitude as a team for their attainment.
We train our people and establish teamwork within our people. Effective teams engage the talents of individual members while encouraging team growth. Each team leader is a cheerleader and trainer.
Trust and Respect for the Individual
There is nothing of greater value than people. We believe in demonstrating respect for the uniqueness of every individual and practicing the Golden Rule within and throughout our facility with team members, suppliers and customers…”do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
Continuous Improvement & Encouragement
We know that sustained success depends on our ability to continually improve. Be aware of the future and either be where the market will be or create them in advance. Encourage one another daily to do their best and let God do the rest.