Valentine Volvo: 70 years of service in Calgary amid economic highs and lows

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WATCH ABOVE: There aren't many Calgary businesses that have been around since just after the Second World War. And as Gil Tucker shows us, it's even more unusual to meet a gentleman who's been there since day one – Apr 25, 2016

Over 70 years ago, two men recently back from war were determined to create something together that they could call their own. Bert Valentine and Ted Halford started a small dealership in southwest Calgary and began selling Austins, Studebakers and Ramblers. At the time, they called the business Halford and Valentine.

They established themselves right off the bat as dependable business men and generous benefactors, donating to churches and Calgary service clubs.

Bert’s son, Ted Valentine, started working for his father at the tender age of 16, with the designation of “gas jockey.”

The company first started selling Volvos in 1967 and became Calgary’s only authorized Volvo dealership. Ted Valentine took over as president in 1968 and the company became Halford and Valentine (1968) Ltd.

Paul Valentine, Ted’s son, joined the business full time in 1987. His dad, now 86 years old, still makes it into work five days a week with no retirement plans in the immediate future.

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“I come in everyday, but I don’t do anything,” Ted Valentine said with a laugh. “I come in at 10 in the morning til 4 in the afternoon. I look at the mail, I say ‘hello’ to the staff. I greet some customers and I go to the bank everyday, and the girls like to see me at the bank, and then I go home and the fortunate thing is my son runs the dealership.

“He’s the third generation and he still pays me, so I have trouble retiring with an operation like that.”

Operating for seven decades in Calgary, Valentine has witnessed numerous economic highs and lows, with the latest recession being no exception. Valentine explained that for the last two years, automobile sales have been strong in every province except Alberta.

“We’re certainly feeling it now,” Valentine said. “So what you have to do is become a little more efficient. We’ve frozen wages, but we haven’t let anybody go and we hope that with some economies of operation that we’ll be able to weather this–because I’m sure it’s going to come back, but it could be the best part of a year before things get back where they were.”

Valentine added that because the business has been established for so long and built up a solid reputation over the years, he’s confident they will keep a lot of their past customers and, “hopefully secure some new ones.”

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Since the early days of the business, charity has been a focal point of the organization. They refer to it simply as “good business,” and the concept remains true to this day.

“I used to say that service was the rent we pay for our space here on earth,” Valentine said. “So through Rotary and in the community and in the church and in the university, there’s always ways we can serve and show an interest and try to contribute where we can.”

Valentine’s ongoing sponsorship has contributed to Inn from the Cold, the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, Feed the Hungry, CUPS, Calgary HandiBus, The Calgary Drop-In Centre and the Mustard Seed.

They also have a passion for sports; the business has supported Kids Up Front, KidSport, Villains Soccer, South Calgary Ringette and Glenlake hockey.

They don’t limit their charitable outreach to a local level, and have built schools and supported programs in India, Africa and South America.

Their spirit of generosity has not gone unnoticed, and this year the family has been nominated for a National Philanthropy Award. Their resolute dedication to their community and attentive business management serves as a landmark to other local establishments, and will undoubtedly carry them through this economic downturn and into future generations of service.

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