Columbus auto and Toyota pioneer Joyce Maloof dies at 85

Noted as first woman to own and manage a Toyota dealership in the U.S.

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 3, 2014 

Joyce Maloof, who helped pioneer female ownership and management of car dealerships in the U.S., which included the Toyota brand in Columbus, died on New Year’s Eve at age 85 in Columbus.

The retired businesswoman was buried Thursday at Parkhill Cemetery.

Maloof is credited with being the first woman to own and manage a Toyota dealership in the nation, according to a 1974 Ledger-Enquirer article, which also noted she was one of only two female new-car dealers in the country at the time.

The former nurse, notary public and insurance saleswoman took the reins of Maloof’s Motor Co., operated by her husband, Harold Maloof, before his illness in the 1960s and eventual death.

The company’s brands through the years also included Chrysler and BMW, while Maloof also operated used-car, parts and service businesses, along with a muffler shop.

Being a woman in a rough-and-tumble, male-dominated industry wasn’t lost on the Cuthbert, Ga., native, who moved to Columbus with her husband with $35 in their pockets, entering the auto industry in 1951.

“I wouldn’t advise a woman to tackle a job traditionally done by a man,” she said in a 1980 Ledger-Enquirer interview. “An executive is supposed to be smart, but men tend to resent smart women. People will test a woman, to see if she can be pushed around. It’s tough, but I enjoy it.”

Maloof also was involved in the Columbus civic world, serving as chairwoman of the city’s personnel review board and making an unsuccessful bid for an at-large city council post in 1983. She also was active with the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau.

But it was the automotive arena that consumed much of her time. She served stints with the Georgia Automobile Industry Association, the Southeastern Toyota Dealer Advisory Council and the Automobile Import Dealers Congress. The dealership won Toyota’s customer service award several years in a row in the 1970s.

The Chattahoochee Valley Chapter of the Business and Professional Women’s Clubs once honored Maloof with its “Outstanding Career Woman” award.

Maloof’s Motor Co. started at 3470 Victory Drive before moving to 1112 Fourth Ave., and then to 1801 Box Road. Maloof sold the Toyota dealership to Florida-based Southeast Toyota Distributors in 1989, but continued to operate Maloof’s Motor Co. for some time.

“You get out of life what you put into it,” the businesswoman said in the 1980 article. “An effective person must be dedicated at work, and not watch the clock for quitting time. You have to take time for people.”

Maloof is survived by her son, Harold “Hal” Maloof Jr., who managed the auto company with his mother, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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