Dealer built a Midwestern retail empire

Rohrman was named one of Automotive News‘ 50 visionary dealers in 2009. He started selling cars in the 1950s after serving in the military following high school. He was born April 18, 1933, in a log cabin in Lafayette and was the ninth of 11 children. Rohrman told Automotive News in 2010 that he became a Toyota dealer after seeing an ad featuring a yellow Corona.

“I’d been looking for a new-car franchise and heard they were selling well in California,” he said. “So I called the 800 number in the ad, and a month later I was selling Toyotas.”

Today, Bob Rohrman Auto Group ranks No. 46 on Automotive News’ list of the top 150 dealership groups in the U.S. The group sold 19,455 new vehicles and 18,619 used vehicles in 2019, with revenue of $1.2 billion.

In 2010, Rohrman described his growth strategy as he added stores coming out of the Great Recession. He said acquisition opportunities existed for dealers who were able to finance a deal. His group was the only one in the top 20 of Automotive News’ 2010 annual ranking — it was then No. 15 — to increase new-vehicle sales and revenue in 2009.

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