As part of its 50th anniversary celebration earlier this month, WEINS Auto Group made two sizable donations to initiatives in Markham, Ont., the city in which the company began its Canadian operations as Don Valley North Toyota Auto Group.
The Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation and York University Markham Campus Project were the recipients.
“WEINS has always been big on giving back,” said Toro Miyahara, President and Chief Executive Officer of WEINS Japan.
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti praised WEINS at the anniversary gala for being an essential part of the community. “WEINS has been a lot more than just cars. The city probably wouldn’t be the same without WEINS, and I think it’s fair to say WEINS probably wouldn’t quite be the same without the City of Markham.”
The company changed its Canadian name to WEINS in 2012. The letters represent West, East, Information, North and South, and stand for geography and core of values. The cornerstone of the operation since its first day has been a consumer-first philosophy, which also applies to the company’s employees and communities, while also growing responsibly.
WEINS entered the Canadian market in 1973, when Japanese Automobile Dealer Group Yokohama Toyopet founder Kanji Miyahara Sr. set his sights on the North American market; he identified Toronto, Ont., specifically Markham, as its footprint. Miyahara’s son, Ikuo, moved from Japan to run the Canadian operations. Don Valley North Toyota was established as the first store on largely undeveloped land that was essentially considered cottage country.
“That location turned out to be quite magical, because Markham turned out to be a pretty strong car market now,” said Amin Tejani, WEINS’ Vice President of Operations. He started out in the company in 1989 as a salesperson at Don Valley North Toyota.
Tejani said it gives him “goosebumps” when he thinks of WEINS’ history and where it is headed. He thanked WEINS’ managers for “taking care of our (employees), taking care of our customers, taking care of our communities, and taking care of our business. It’s people that make the difference,” he said.
Toro Miyahara praised the late Dave Lalonde, who passed away in 2018 and worked as GM and VP of Operations in his long career with the company. Miyahara called Lalonde a “great visionary and leader that inspired our associates and is a big part of where we are today.”
From its first store, WEINS has spread across the Greater Toronto Area, including 14 dealerships representing nine brands, two collision centres, and a 16-acre (6.4 hectares) vehicle storage and pre-delivery inspection centre. The land also includes WEINS’ new 54,000 square-foot (5,016 square-metre) corporate head office. The construction was necessitated because the company was operating above the Don Valley North Lexus and Don Valley North Toyota stores and required more space.
WEINS Auto Group Canada President and CEO Seiji Ichii noted the company began with only 26 employees and now has 1,300. “We are so proud of our employees and their commitment to our customer-first philosophy and their appreciation of our culture,” said Ichii.