Outgoing and always quick to laugh, Rohrman is the TV pitchman for Rohrman franchises.
"He's our star," says Stephen Allsteadt, a partner in Axiom Advertising in Schaumburg, which handles TV advertising for the group. "We've had him in costume as Cowboy Bob, Count Bobula, Doctor Bob." Generations of Chicago Cubs broadcast fans know his trademark animated lion, Leo, growling out the "Bob ROOOOHHHHR-man" tag line.
He runs his empire, which includes Indiana dealerships in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Lafayette and Chesterton, with a small management team. He is rarely in his Lafayette office. He prefers to hit the road, driving from dealership to dealership for monthly meetings with department heads at each store.
"We go over the last month: new, used, grosses, new and used leases, Internet, F&I, service, parts," he says. "We compare to plan and then set goals for the next month."
He acknowledges his system can break down. "I don't watch a clock," he says. "The first meeting of the day starts on time. The next one starts when I get there."
The hectic pace has its downside. Rohrman has three ex-wives.
None of his five children work for him. But two of his 16 grandchildren work at the Schaumburg Honda store.
"The grandkids are the ones that will take over -- in 30 or 35 years," he quips.
But Rohrman turns serious to discuss how he can operate a 1,200-employee company from his perpetual road trip.
"It's the people," he says. "You've got to have good people."
He praises the abilities of longtime employees, from top aides John Barrett and Craig Gibson and his various general managers to technicians who started with him back in the 1960s.
In 2007, Rohrman gave back to Lafayette and the school from which he almost didn't graduate. He donated $3.5 million toward a $9 million addition to Jefferson High School.
"I always kind of wanted to play the saxophone, but there was no option back then," Rohrman says. "I thought students ought to have a chance to do something in school besides play sports."
Last fall he sang at the dedication of the Bob Rohrman Center for Performing Arts.