Leung’s three-acre (1.2-hectare) property faces Yorkdale Shopping Centre, one of the largest malls in Canada, and is surrounded by two major highways and condominium developments. The site is about four kilometres from his primary dealership, Toronto HyundaiGenesis Yorkdale.
Leung plans to build separate Hyundai-Genesis dealerships on the new site and possibly a third store, although he would not provide details.
The “area is booming,” he said.
When the new stores open, the current Hyundai-Genesis dealership will become a new Kia store. Leung already owns nearby West Toronto Kia.
Marsim Auto Group is named after his two children, Martina and Simona. Leung’s wife, Lorri, is executive vice-president.
Employing 80 people, Marsim was expected to generate a profit of about $1 million in 2018, up from $800,000 in 2017, Leung said.
The goal, he said, is to make his Genesis and Hyundai dealerships the best in sales and service in the country.
THINGS CHANGE, BENNY KEEPS UP
Leung has done a “fantastic job” growing with Hyundai, Romano said.
“Finding property to build a car dealership is no easy task. There was probably a time when Benny’s facility was perfectly fine for the level of business we were doing. Just look where we were 20 years ago, and look where we are today. Things change.
“Not every dealer was able to grow with us and accommodate the facility requirements, but he figured it out, and that is unique,” Romano said. “I’ve never seen anybody take a store that old and make it work for that long. A lot of other dealers expanded and grew and continued to invest all along the way, and Benny just kept working that postage stamp and made it better and better and better.
“He was also open to criticism, which is unique for any dealer.”
For Leung, the key to success has been hiring people who share his work ethic and “people-first philosophy.”
“When you look after customers and treat them fairly, they will become longtime customers, and recommend you to their friends and family.”
Circumstances rather than choice landed Leung in the car business. Although he earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto and a degree in business administration from York University, Leung said career prospects for a graduate with “no experience” in the early 1980s were poor due to the recession.
“A friend suggested I try auto sales, where I would at least have the use of a demo vehicle.” He would develop a passion for sales a love affair that led to his first dealership acquisition in the mid-1990s.
A ‘FORWARD THINKER’
A strong advocate for dealers, Leung was president of Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) from 2013-’14. TADA represents more than 1,100 Ontario new-vehicle dealers.
Frank Notte, TADA’s director of government relations, called Leung a “forward thinker.”
“When he travels, he’s always interested in how other people do things and better ways to improve things,” Notte said. “I think it’s just in his DNA to see what is the next big thing.
“Having a Big Benny [bell tower] is right out of Benny’s playbook. Anybody who knows Benny wouldn’t be surprised. That is Benny 100 per cent.”
Leung said he decided to add dealer ships, in part, because he has no interest in retiring.
“If I was to retire and stay at home, would die very soon,” he said. “I have lot of energy, and I don’t think my wife could handle that.”