The Toronto automotive dealership network has lost one of its most-respected members with the passing of Herbert Stein on Sept. 27. He was 91.
Stein joined the business shortly after his father, Morris, was awarded a dealership by General Motors in 1957 and opened Plaza Chevrolet in Toronto. Herbert had graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1951 with a degree in Business Administration. In his final year, he completed a review of the Canadian retail automobile business and subsequently worked for five years for a dealer in the United States as part of the General Motors Institute of Technology.
Stein then became the manager of his father’s dealership and was an active member of the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association, which later morphed into the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association.
He was a recipient of the Time Magazine Dealer of the Year, a national award that recognizes new-car dealers for exceptional performance in their dealerships and perform distinguished community service.
In 1980, Stein stepped away from day-to-day operations, giving way to his son, Rob, who became the president. He subsequently began expanding the family’s holdings and started the Plaza Auto Group, which currently includes eight dealerships.
Stein remained a daily fixture at the company’s Kia of Richmond Hill flagship store, acting as an adviser until the age of 90.
In an interview with Automotive News Canada in the May, 2019, Rob said of his father: “He’s one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever met in the car business. His knowledge is second to none.”
In a subsequent interview this week, Rob said his father was proud that his grandsons, Daniel, Adam and Dustin joined the family business.
“He was so incredibly happy. When he was in the office, my boys would come up to him and talk service and parts and he was as sharp as he was 30 years ago. He would answer their questions and help them with the business because other than the Internet, it has not changed that much. He was a great guy to talk to for me. That I will miss the most.”