An entrepreneur at the age of seven selling soda pop at sandlot baseball games, Jim Moran was born to be a salesman. Growing up in Chicago during the Depression, he pumped gas at a neighborhood filling station. After several years, Jim had saved just enough money–$360–to purchase his own gas station. After selling a used 1936 Ford Coupe at his Sinclair gas station and making more money than he did in a week of pumping gas, Jim quickly expanded his business to include a used car lot.
In 1946, Jim purchased a Hudson dealership, which he built into the largest Hudson franchise in the country. It was there that he became the first dealer in America to advertise new and used cars on television. His live commercials made him a celebrity throughout the Chicago area as “Jim Moran the Courtesy Man” and his variety shows, “The Courtesy Hour” and “Barn Dance,” received awards every year they were on TV. In 1956, Jim Moran was awarded a Ford franchise and established Courtesy Ford. In the first month of business he sold more than 1,000 new vehicles-and quickly became the number one Ford dealer in the world. Because of his creativity and success, he is the only automobile dealer ever to be featured on the cover of TIME magazine.
After moving to Florida at age 46 and defying the odds by winning a difficult battle with cancer, he was awarded a Pontiac franchise. For the next 20 years, JM Pontiac was the largest Pontiac dealership in the country. In 1968, Toyota contacted Jim about distributing their cars and after test-driving a red Corona, he signed the agreement creating Southeast Toyota Distributors-with 42 dealers in a five-state region. Since then, the company has grown to become the largest independent automobile distributor in the world and part of JM Family Enterprises, one of the largest privately-held companies in the nation. Jim’s founding values still breathe magic into JM Family’s culture and success. A survey in FORTUNE magazine consistently ranks JM Family Enterprises as one of the 100 Best Companies To Work For in the United States.
With his philosophy that “our associates are our most important asset” and his guiding principles of the three ‘C’s– Consideration, Cooperation and Communication — he built his legacy as an automotive pioneer and extraordinary businessman. His peers named him one of the most admired car dealers in the country in a 1991 survey of automobile dealers conducted by Auto Age magazine. In 1996, he received the prestigious Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Award, an honor given to those who have risen from humble beginnings, overcome incredible obstacles and achieved success through hard work and determination. Throughout his career, Jim gave back to his community in countless ways.
In 1984, he founded the Youth Automotive Training Center, a privately-funded school that offers free basic automotive repair training, GED and academic preparation-and life skills development for at-risk young people. To ensure his legacy of philanthropy would continue, Jim and his wife, Jan, established The Jim Moran Foundation, dedicated to improving the lives of youth and families throughout the state of Florida. Jim attributed his success to those associates who worked with him, being in the right place at the right time-and doing something that he loved every day—selling cars.