Tom Roush Auto Group Remains Family-Owned After 46 Years of Success
Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer / Ryan Woodall
For Jeff Roush, it’s all about family.
Sure he serves as vice president of Tom Roush Auto Group, a family-owned car dealership that his father Tom co-founded 46 years ago, and he has two sons that now also work for the business, but he strives to treat customers and employees like family as well.
Back in the mid-1960s, Roush’s father Tom co-founded a Ford dealership on Indy’s southside near the intersection of I-465 and U.S. 31. In 1972, after Tom had spent several years establishing his business, the Mazda Corporation decided to break into the Indiana market and began looking for dealers. Tom figured the time was right to start diversifying his business and launched a Mazda dealership near his flagship store.
“That was really the genesis of the Tom Roush Auto business when dad and one of his partners became a Mazda dealer in 1972,” Jeff says. “They had the Mazda store and the Ford store and started building a name for themselves.”
However, it was Tom’s long-time wish to become a Lincoln-Mercury dealer that brought the Roush family to Westfield. In 1976 Tom heard about a local construction company looking to sell a Lincoln store they’d opened the previous year and jumped at the opportunity. Soon he had sold his share of the southside Mazda and Ford stores and was relocating his family to the northside by the spring of 1977.
“Dad always had a passion that he’d like to be a Lincoln dealer,” Jeff says. “I think he knew it was the right decision.”
Three years after the relocation, Jeff had joined his dad in the family business full-time after studying automotive marketing at Northwood Institute (now Northwood University) in Midland, Michigan.
The company has grown in the intervening years to operate multiple Central Indiana establishments including Mazda and Mitsubishi sales and service locations in Westfield as well as two used car lots in Westfield and Avon. And after more than four decades, the business is still evolving – in November Tom and Jeff will open the doors to what Jeff describes as a boutique Lincoln dealership along State Road 37 in Fishers, and his Westfield Lincoln store will be converted to a Mitsubishi dealership.
Jeff says Lincoln company leaders approached him about relocating from Westfield after construction had begun to transform U.S. 31 into an interstate, which negatively affected vehicle access to his Westfield dealership near 169th Street and 31.
“Originally they wanted us to go to 96th Street where all the dealers are, but that’s pretty expensive property over there,” says Jeff, who plans to hold a grand opening celebration for the new Fishers store in the spring. “They asked me what we thought and I said Fishers would be the next best place, at the 37 corridor. That area is shaping up to be the new 96th Street for car dealers.”
Tom Roush Auto Group soon purchased the Fishers property previously occupied by Andy Mohr Automotive on Trade Center Drive and struck a deal in the process whereby Mohr would give up his own Lincoln franchise, allowing Tom Roush Auto Group to be the only Lincoln dealer in Central Indiana.
“We’ve got central Indiana pretty much stitched up now as far as the Lincoln brand,” says Jeff, adding that he currently has 88 total full-time and part-time employees at his Westfield, Avon and Fishers locations.
Jeff says the new Fishers Tom Roush Lincoln store will be one of approximately 40 Lincoln locations in the U.S. to feature an updated, boutique interior with a larger-than-usual showroom.
After more than 46 years, it’s still – as it always has been – a family affair. Jeff’s sons A.J. and Tommy now work at the dealership as well, as a Mitsubishi sales manager and a used car manager respectively. Tom turned 84 this summer, and Jeff says his dad still shows up at the dealership six days a week.
“I guess he’s still scared the kids are going to mess up a good deal,” Jeff says jokingly. “It feels pretty good to have three generations working under one roof, and all our employees are the best in the business. I think that’s how you last as long as we have – it’s all about the people.”
For more info on Tom Roush Auto Group, call 317-896-5561 or visit tomroush.com.