Texas auto dealer Ramsay Gillman, who built his family business into one of the state's largest dealership groups, died Friday at his home in Houston. He was 67.
Gillman was a second-generation owner of the Gillman Cos. In early 2010, he sold 99 percent of the company to his three children -- daughter Stacey Gillman Wimbish and sons Jason and Christopher. In an interview with Automotive News in 2010, Gillman described how the generational succession plan worked for the family company.
"I hit the trifecta," Ramsay said. "All three of my kids love the car business."
Ramsay's father, Frank, started the business when he opened a Pontiac dealership in 1938. Ramsay started his career working in the parts department of his father's dealership. Ramsay and his brother Martin later took over the business. In 1998, the same year he was president of the National Automobile Dealers Association, Ramsay bought out Martin.
Ramsay Gillman participated in numerous professional and charitable organizations, both on state and national levels. According to his biography, he received the 1996 Sports Illustrated All-Star Dealer Award, presented by the American International Automobile Dealers Association, "for his lifelong contribution to the automotive business and commitment to numerous charitable organizations."
Gillman Cos. now controls 14 dealerships in Texas. They include three clusters of eight franchises in metropolitan Houston; Honda, Subaru and Mitsubishi stores in San Antonio; and Chevy, Honda and Chevrolet-Buick-GMC stores in Harlingen and nearby San Benito, south of Corpus Christi near the Mexican border.
The dealership group, which generated $497 million in revenue in 2010, ranked No. 45 on the Automotive News list of the top 125 dealership groups in the United States with new vehicle sales of 10,727 units last year.
A celebration of Ramsay Gillman's life will be held Tuesday, June 7, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. CDT at the George H. Lewis Funeral home, 1010 Bering Drive, in Houston. A memorial service is scheduled at St. Luke's United Methodist Church on Wednesday, June 8,at 11 a.m.
The family asks that any donations be directed to the Fort Bend Women's Center (P.O. Box 183, Richmond, TX 77406), Houston Automobile Dealers Association Scholarship Fund (P.O. Box 16550, Sugar Land, TX 77496-6550), or National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation (P.O. Box 9133, Tacoma, WA 98490-0133).