Jenell R. Ross, businesswoman and daughter of the late auto dealer mogul Robert (Bob) Ross Sr., assumed leadership of Bob Ross Automotive in 2010 after the untimely death of her father. She became president of the family business after her mother’s passing. Ross’ father was the first African American Automobile Dealer in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, and the first African American International Harvester Dealer in the U.S. Ross, who was named chairwoman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association in 2013, is currently the only second-generation African American female automobile dealer in the country, and she has the distinction of operating the only Mercedes-Benz, Buick-GMC, Alfa Romeo, and Fiat dealerships owned by an African American Woman.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Ross to talk about her father’s legacy and her own success. She shared five business lessons she learned from her dad.
How important is it for Bob Ross Auto to remain a family-run business, and why?
We recently celebrated our 41st anniversary. It is extremely important to keep the legacy of my father alive and for us to continue to grow our organization. He was a true trailblazer in many ways in the auto industry, especially for aspiring minority auto dealers.
What is your vision for the company and how do you plan to implement growth?
Our vision for the company is to continue the tradition set forth by my father, Robert P. Ross Sr. We will continue to strive for 100% complete customer satisfaction. As the organization continues to grow, we must maximize all necessary opportunities to better the environment for our current and potential clients. Continuing the tradition of providing an excellent buying and servicing experience is our No. 1 priority.
What are five business lessons you learned from your father?
- Learn all you can about your industry. No one can take your knowledge away from you.
- The success of any business is as good as its people. Make sure you surround yourself with the best talent.
- Respect those who work for you. Everyone plays a key role in the success of our operation. You can’t do it alone.
- Be willing to take risks.
- Treat your customer the way you would want to be treated.