The Canadian automobile industry is mourning the death of respected Volvo dealer principal Ted Valentine, who made a name for himself in Calgary through his dealership and philanthropy at home and internationally. He died Sunday at the age of 90 after battling cancer of the spine for the last four months.
Valentine followed his father, Bert, who eventually became a Volvo dealer in 1967. Just one year later, Ted took over as the president of the company. His son Paul joined the company full-time in 1987 and took over as principal owner in the late 90s. Ted continued to work in a lesser role before retiring last year.
“He said he retired last year, but retirement didn’t change him – he still came in every day,” said his son, Paul, who took over as president and subsequent principal owner in the late 90s.
“He lived for 90 years and six months, and for 90 years and two months he had a pretty good life,” Paul Valentine said.
Ted became known for his commitment to the brand, his employees, the community and the automotive business in Calgary, establishing his store as the largest and most successful Volvo dealership in Canada.
His motto for sealing deals was: “Fair to all concerned.”
He was once honoured by his peers as Alberta’s Quality Dealer of the Year. He served as president of the Calgary Motor Dealers Association, the Motor Dealers’ Association of Alberta and the Federation of Automobile Dealers Association of Canada, now known as the Canadian Automotive Dealers Association.
“I think he saw the auto business as a way to make his community better,” Paul said. “He never thought about that reputation of ‘shady car salesmen.’ He wouldn’t put up with it in his organization and he wouldn’t put up with it in the Calgary dealers’ association.
“He held everybody in this industry to a higher standard and I think that led to more professionalism, especially in our organization. He said a deal is not a deal unless it’s fair to all concerned.
"I used to tease him that people used to say the best deal is when both sides are unhappy. He disagreed wholeheartedly with that. He said a deal has to be win-win and he was always saying you’ve got to do what’s right in the long-term. Don’t worry about the short term. All your decisions have to be made on what’s right in the long term.”
Ted contributed to many worthwhile causes. both locally and abroad. His belief was, “service is the rent we pay for our space here on earth.”
“When other people were expanding and accumulating, he was always volunteering, trying to make Calgary a better place,” Paul said. “I think he just thought he was lucky enough to have a job and a great wife and six kids that are healthy. I think he just felt so blessed that he wanted to do something for others.”
He also supported programs to build schools in India, Africa and South America.
When he retired In 2019, Ted was featured in a CBC segment called Local Legends.
Volvo Cars of Canada acknowledged him in a note to all of its dealers saying Ted and his team not only played a key role in the brand’s success over the years, but also doing so in a way that truly put people first.