Rick Blacker assuming role of MVRO President | Canadian Auto Dealer

Written by Perry Lefko

As the new incoming president of the Motor Vehicle Retailers of Ontario and the future president of the Canadian International AutoShow, Rick Blacker can turn to his business partner if he wants any advice. That’s because Rick is Vice President of the Marsim Auto Group, headed up by Benny Leung and his wife Lorri.

In 2013, Benny served as president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, which was changed to the MVRO last year. After his year as TADA Past President, Leung became the president of the AutoShow.

“I am more than proud to take the position and hopefully make an impact for the dealers and just keep things rolling along,” said Blacker.

“We’re heavily involved in bringing tech in from overseas and a bunch of initiatives,” he said. “The AutoShow took a little bit of a hammering when COVID hit, but (the enthusiasm and attendance) is coming back in full force. There’s a lot of good things happening. It’s good timing to take the helm.”

It is believed this is the first time in the history of the MVRO, and its previous iterations going back more than 100 years, that two people from the same ownership group have become president of the association.

“Benny is the real deal. He basically thinks the exact same way that I do. We think so much alike. I think that’s why he trusts me,” said Blacker. “As far as what to do (as MVRO president) and where to step in, I think he’ll be invaluable with that kind of stuff. As far as the actual show itself, it’s very dynamic now. It’s really, really changing, especially with all the different manufacturers. I definitely will be bouncing things off of him, no doubt about that one.”

MVRO Executive Director Todd Bourgon said Blacker is an industry veteran with many decades of automotive experience.

“Rick’s leadership skills and experience will be a great asset as he helps guide the association through a pivotal year that will see such things as new legislation tabled for changes to the MVDA,” said Bourgon. “Rick has given many years of volunteer service to the MVRO, leading up to this point in his career and has proven his commitment and passion to lead as president of MVRO in 2024 and succeed as president of the Canadian International AutoShow in 2025.”

Rick is the son of Don Blacker, who has been in the business for more than 70 years. He sells cars for Dixie Toyota, and two years ago was honoured by the Toyotoshi Group Canada for 25 years of service with the company. He was given a star with his name on it on the floor of Dixie Toyota.

Rick followed his father into the business more than 60 years ago. He started out washing cars in the summer and said this is where he developed an interest in automotive retail.

“(I’m) just like any other guy who loves cars, you’re sitting in all these new cars and one thing leads to another,” said Blacker. “My father taught me about a lot of stuff, but predominantly to get into this position he told me not to give up, don’t ever think something can’t happen. You can make it happen, you just have to work hard. You aren’t always going to benefit, but sooner or later you will. Something good will happen and he was right about that.”

“He also instilled in me not only the importance of selling cars, but the customer service part of it, to look after them and make sure they keep coming back. The easiest way to do business is one of the tougher things to do. It just pays off twentyfold.”

His dream to own a dealership came to fruition through meeting Benny, who told Canadian auto dealer he was so busy with his TADA duties he hired Blacker to manage his Toronto Hyundai store. Blacker had been running his own consulting business. Leung made Blacker a partner in the purchase of West Toronto KIA a few years later.

“It’s one of those things you kick around the table, wouldn’t it be nice to own your own store, be involved in your own deal, have the opportunity to call your own shots, do your own thing,” said Blacker. “At one point I didn’t think it was ever going to happen. It just all (comes) together when you don’t think you’re going to get the chance — when the big groups were buying a lot of stores. I was just lucky. I was in the right place at the right time. It all just clicked and worked out great for me.”

His son Brandon followed him into the business, and in 2019 became Partner/General Manager of West Toronto KIA.

Being an owner enabled Blacker to run for election on TADA’s Executive Board. “Rick has done a really good job for me, he’s helped me quite a bit,” said Leung. “I told him I really wanted him to get on the Board. Everybody wants to be president of the MVRO.”