Known as the "Dean of Black Auto Dealers," Nathan G. Conyers was one of 13 CEOs whose dealerships appeared on the first BE 100s rankings. His acumen kept the engine of his business humming for decades, making Conyers Riverside Ford Inc., the oldest black dealership on our roster at the time he received BE's top honor. In 1997, his dealership had been ranked No. 34 on the BE AUTO DEALER 100 with gross sales of $49 million.
A lawyer by training, Conyers assumed responsibility of the dealership in a coin toss with his brother John Jr., the congressman, in 1970, fulfilling the dream of their father, a life-long Chrysler assembly line worker, of establishing a family business. He became a powerful advocate for African Americans in the industry, helping to create the National Black Dealers Association and serving as its first president in 1970. And by 1979, Conyers established the Ford Lincoln Mercury Black Dealers Association, leading the fight for minority dealers to gain much-needed financial support from federal agencies. Moreover, this top-notch entrepreneur known for his professionalism and service â€“ he was a recipient of Time Magazine's Quality Dealer Award â€“ also playing the vital role of mentor to others within the sector. In fact, he had been credited with training scores of African American dealers, many of whom were women.
After 33 years in the business, Conyers closed the doors of the Detroit dealership and for years continued to operate within the industry as owner of Jaguar of Novi, another company among the BE 100s.