WARREN HENRY ZINN LOVES SELLING SNAZZY CARS…AND RETURNS THE FAVOR IN A BIG WAY.
BY LINDA MARX
Florida automobile dealer and philanthropist Warren Henry Zinn has no idea what his life would have been like had he followed his mother’s dream for him to become a doctor.
After studying pre-med in college for three years, Zinn changed his course, and decided to go into the car business. In 1976 at age 21, he became the youngest car dealer in Florida, where he got his managerial start and love of the engine.
“I absolutely love cars and always have,” explains Zinn, who was born in New York, raised in South Florida and now lives in Miami Beach. “When I was 10 years old, I worked at Florida’s first Toyota dealership founded by my dad. I love driving, fixing and restoring cars. It is my passion.”
No wonder Zinn has become so successful: He lives and breathes the business.
Under the Warren Henry Auto Group umbrella, Zinn owns nine franchise locations in Florida—from Miami to West Palm Beach, and from Vero Beach to Ocala. He has dealerships for Lamborghini, Jaguar, Land Rover (two), Infiniti, Volvo (two), Subaru and Fisker.
“I travel to all of them and work and stay on the operations,” says Zinn. “I find it all exciting with new products and technology. People love the freedom and mobility their cars can give them. There is always something going on.”
Zinn’s family has a long and illustrious history in the auto industry, so it was a natural foray. The story began in 1955 when his father David sold Lincolns in the Bronx, NY, then relocated to Miami Beach to sell Chevrolets. In 1965, David opened the Toyota dealership.
Once the younger Zinn was old enough to comprehend what was going on around him, he hopped in the driver’s seat. Over the years, the mix and match of the different brands has been as intriguing to him as the challenge of selling. And he has stayed with it for decades, building the business into a South Florida powerhouse.
I was born with an innate love of cars,” Zinn admits. “From the time I began to talk, I knew the brand names of all of them. And I spent years learning the family business with my dad. It was a natural part of my day.
Those early years bolstered his interest and inspired him to attend automotive college, which gave him the tools he needed to fully understand the many areas of the diversified business.
Through the ups and downs of mega-expansion, he has made it a point to stay current. He has created an environment that is known for superior products and service, courteous staffers, community involvement and philanthropy at the highest level.
In short, Zinn and his company, where his son Larry, 26, is involved with the Infiniti, Volvo and Jaguar dealerships, are very generous.
Some of his favorite charities are Mount Sinai Medical Center, the Temple Beth Torah (where he attended Hebrew School) Benny Rok Campus, 100 Black Men of South Florida, Inc., March of Dimes, David L. Singer Memorial Foundation, Special Olympics, Moffit Cancer Center Foundation and the Greater Miami Jewish Foundation.
In recent years, he has also supported the Greater Miami Hillel Foundation, Holocaust Memorial, Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, Don Strock Diabetes Classic, Rotary Club of Coral Gables benefitting Miami Children’s Hospital, a fund for Colon Cancer research, Florida Breast Cancer Coalition Research Foundation and Market America’s Fashion Art Ball for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“I spend a lot of time doing charity work,” he says. “I rarely have time to relax or watch television. But philanthropy gives me great satisfaction.”
Zinn likes to give back especially to families that he does business with and to the organizations that those families support. The Warren Henry companies have been selling cars to different generations of the same families for dozens of years. “It makes sense to help them out. It is the right thing to do. And it encourages good vibes,” he says.
“We get involved with local schools, churches and temples, we are diverse in what we support,” he adds.
Locally, Zinn sees the benefit of enlisting celebrities at fundraising and business events because famous faces bring in the fans. In September, he hosted a Housewives of Miami (Bravo TV reality show) gala at the Forge restaurant on South Beach. He has done events at his various dealerships and at local venues. For example, he hosted a Lamborghini party with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach to raise money for a major charity.
He has done benefits with race car driver Helio Castroneves in Miami, National Football League analyst and former football player star Marshall Faulk, football star and Dancing With the Stars’ finalist Jason Taylor, and legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula.
Currently, Miami Heat star Chris Bosh is a spokesman for the Warren Henry brand and attends many of the events. Bosh admits he has fun while promoting high end cars.
”It is good and fun to work with the Warren Henry family,” says Bosh, who moved to Miami from Toronto in 2010 to play basketball. “I really enjoy it.”
Quips Zinn: “Bosh is so tall, we had to find him a full sized Land Rover so the people attending could watch him actually get in a car without hitting his head!”
Zinn is also involved with local community organizations, like the Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce, Aventura Marketing Council, Latin Builders Association, and The Executives Association of Greater Miami. He is founding member and director of Floridian Community Bank, Keep Miami Gardens Beautiful and Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.
In response, he has been honored by nearly a dozen groups for his auto work and philanthropy efforts, including the Buoniconti Spinal Award from its Miami-based foundation for his continued support and commitment.
With all of his philanthropy work, when does this man relax?
Well, when Zinn is not driving his choice of cars—he likes convertibles for good weather, Range Rovers for rainy days, and the Infiniti QX when he has to schlep more than six people—he likes to play golf, go speed boating, and of course, sell cars, which is not really work to him.
Any spare moment finds him dreaming of cars.
“Everyone asks me what is my favorite car to drive,” Zinn laughs. “I am happy if I sell every one of them. In fact, my choice is to sell every single car and be forced to ride around town in a taxi!”
Spoken like a true salesman!