Riverbank Motors turns 50
By KARA O'CONNOR
STAMFORD -- The Goldstein family has been taking their work home with them every night since 1958, and they have no intention of stopping the family tradition anytime soon.
"One thing about this family business that I love, and hasn't changed at all over the years, is the topic of our dinner conversations," said Andrew Goldstein, president of Riverbank Motors. "What happened that day at work or how many cars you sold was always the start of dinner, and it has stayed that way. But it is something that I think we all look forward to -- I know I do."
Andrew Goldstein's father, Seymour, first opened the doors of the Stamford dealership in February of 1958 on West Broad Street, and the business has stayed in the same location since.
"My father owned an automotive garage in Brooklyn," said Goldstein. "So when the opportunity to open an automotive business from Arthur Stanton (president of Volkswagen Motors) came up, it was the perfect situation."
The current Riverbank Motors president has been interested in the automotive business his entire life, he said. During his high school years, he worked in a used car lot, and after graduating college, he immediately started working in the family business.
"Working for my father was harder than working for any other employer because I always felt like I was being checked and double checked on what I was doing," said Goldstein. "In the end it was better because now I run the business and I learned to do everything the right way, I do the same thing to my sons."
Goldstein's two sons, Eric and Seth, have worked for the family business since they were teenagers, learning the business from the bottom up. "Well I originally wanted to be a rock star," said Seth Goldstein, the dealership's service and parts director. "After I decided that wasn't for me, I basically went the same route as my father did. I started working here (Riverbank Motors) when I was 13, helping clean up the grease. Then I moved up, working as a technician for three years and did sales on the weekends. Now I'm a service manager and I feel like I know the entire business."
According to Eric Goldstein, the Internet manager at Riverbank Motors, he has been working for the family business ever since he can first remember. "This was my very first job. I started out cleaning gutters and cleaning cars and I took pride in doing that. Now I work as the Internet manager and I love it," he said. "This is a job that nobody in the family has ever been pressured into -- we all just kind of fell into it. I think we were all made for this business."
Riverbank Motors has been serving the Stamford community for 50 years, and the reason it's been around so long, said Andrew Goldstein, is because of the reputation his grandfather started and the family has continued. "We have customers that continue to come back to us because of the wonderful friendships and relationships we have built over the years," he said. "A guy will buy a car from us and then years later he will come back with his kid and buy their first car from us. This is a family business that is run by a family for families."
Since 1958, the one thing that hasn't changed at Riverbank Motors, said Andrew Goldstein, is its welcoming atmosphere. "Even though times are changing and you can get most information about buying a car off the Internet, there is still that need to touch, smell and drive a car before you actually decide you want to buy it," said Andrew Goldstein. "That is why our employees are so critical. When you walk into that door, whether you are actually a Goldstein or not, you are family and you are treated like family. Our customers know that and so do the rest of our employees. It is an important aspect of Riverbank."
Seth Goldstein said he plans to help continue the family tradition.
"I think having this business run by family is a great tradition to have and to keep," he said. "You never know what's going to happen ,but I'm guessing that Riverbank Motors will be a Goldstein family run business for a very long time."
L-R: Eric Goldstein, father Andrew and brother Seth Goldstein sit in the back of a new 2009 Volkswagen Routan in the show room of Riverbank Motors in Stamford. Photo/Alex von Kleydorff.