Welcome to Bob Ross Auto Group: Celebrating 50 Years of History & Innovation

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An Open Letter to Our Community

As we kick off Black History Month, we are not only commemorating the broader scope of African American achievements but also reflecting on our own remarkable journey. On February 22, 2024, Bob Ross Auto Group proudly marks its 50th anniversary as an automobile dealer. This milestone holds profound significance, as it signifies the realization of a dream that began with Robert P. Ross Sr. in 1974. 

Our story traces back to Richmond, IN, where Robert P. Ross Sr. first stepped foot into the automotive world as a lot attendant at the very dealership he later purchased. Five successful years later, he ventured to Centerville, OH, where he not only expanded his business but also etched his name in history as the first African American Mercedes-Benz automobile dealer in the USA in 1979. 

Our journey has been punctuated by numerous “firsts” in the industry:

  • Robert P. Ross Sr. graduated from the inaugural class of the General Motors Minority Dealer Academy in 1974.
  • He became the first African American Buick dealer in Indiana in 1974 and Ohio in 1979.
  • He held the distinction of being the first African American Mercedes-Benz dealer in the USA until 1994.
  • He played a pivotal role in the establishment of NAMAD, fostering opportunities for minority dealers.
  • His contributions earned him recognition locally, regionally, and nationally. 

Following his untimely passing in 1997, Norma J. Ross assumed the presidency, and I, Jenell Ross, became the Dealer Principal, marking yet another milestone in our family’s legacy. We became the first African American females at the helm of a dealer group, further breaking barriers in the industry.

Despite the loss of my mother to breast cancer in 2010, we persevered. In the same year, I became the first African American second-generation female to own an automobile dealership. Subsequently, in 2013, I made history again as the first African American chair of AIADA.

As we prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary on February 22, 2024, we acknowledge that our journey is not ours alone. We extend our deepest gratitude to General Motors, Mercedes-Benz Global, Buick, GMC, NAMAD, GMMDA, AIADA, NADA, Dayton, Centerville, Richmond, the Miami Valley, our customers, our employees, and our families. Each of you has played an integral role in shaping our history and success.

As we honor Black History Month, we take pride in knowing that our family has left an indelible mark in the automobile industry and our community. Thank you for being a part of our team and our legacy. Here’s to the next 50 years of excellence and innovation at Bob Ross Auto!