The Ontario automotive industry lost a fierce advocate for car dealers with the recent passing of Robert (Bob) Pierce, who lost a seven-year battle with multiple myeloma.
He was 69.
Pierce had been Director of Member Services of the Used Car Dealer Association of Ontario (UCDA) from 2000 until his passing.
He was considered a passionate defender of dealers and served their interests with vigour for almost all of his working life with his unparalleled knowledge base and good humour.
Jim Hamilton, UCDA Interim Manager and Legal Services Director, knew Pierce on a professional and personal level and said he left a lasting impression and legacy on the industry.
“You can be a consummate professional but also a super nice person, and the two are not mutually exclusive,” said Hamilton.
Pierce started out in the industry selling Datsuns for Nissan, but later moved on to become the Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario and Toronto Dealers Associations and Motor Vehicle Registrar in the Government of Ontario. It was the predecessor of the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council, which was set up in 1997 to monitor the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act.
Shahin Alizadeh, President/CEO of Downtown Auto Group, said he was truly saddened by Pierce’s passing.
“I met Bob nearly four decades ago when he was in charge of monitoring our industry as the Motor Vehicle Registrar of Ontario,” Alizadeh said. “It was actually very hard to develop a likeness for Bob and his stern personality when you first met him, but as you got to know him you realized he was driven by his passion for the industry. The more you got to know him, the more you got to like him as a person. I think he left a positive impression on most people.
“Bob spent his entire working life with the basic goal of helping those of us who had chosen to call ourselves car dealers. He helped steer the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association as its first General Manager, then went on to spend the balance of his career helping UCDA.
“I think the industry lost a great man and those of us who got to know Bob the person will surely miss his friendship.”
Pierce’s son, David, said his father was a pillar for the industry.
“One of the neat things since he passed is how many dealers and car industry reps have sent me messages just out of the blue with funny stories,” said David. “It’s pretty cool. It was an industry that was important to everyone in his life. He loved it and grew his career in it and it was almost to be a shepherd for it in some ways by helping dealers work through the issues that come up in operating a dealership.”
He said his father was a talented carpenter, golf fanatic, pool player and loving grandfather.
He is survived by his wife, Patricia, and children David, Carolyn, Jeff and Steven and grandchildren. A memorial is planned for March 20 at the Scarboro Golf and Country Club beginning at 10 a.m.