In 1969, Bob Rohrman was the ambitious owner of a used-car lot in Lafayette, Ind., when Toyota Motor Corp. came knocking.
Although steeped in buying and selling vehicles from Detroit, Rohrman saw the potential of the small, little-known cars from Japan. He established his first Toyota store in Lafayette. The Toyota dealership was only the beginning. In the following years Rohrman built an import brand empire in two heartland states, Indiana and Illinois.
His Schaumburg Honda Automobiles in suburban Chicago has been Illinois' top Honda dealership for 19 years, his Web site says. Most of Rohrman's 30 or so new-car dealerships sell Japanese brands.