Combine the name Jenell Ross with the Mercedes-Benz label and Ross' ethnicity and you have an unfolding African-American history story.
The American International Automobile Dealers Association recently announced that Ross – a Centerville, Ohio, dealer – is its 2013 chairwoman. She took over the position during AIADA's 43rd Annual Meeting and Luncheon earlier this month in Orlando, Fla.
Ross is the president of Bob Ross Automotive, which operates Buick, GMC, Fiat, and Mercedes-Benz franchises in the Dayton, Ohio, area. She inherited the role from her father and mother, who founded the dealership group in 1974. Mercedes-Benz of Centerville was the first Mercedes-Benz dealership to be owned by an African American and is currently the only one owned by an African-American woman.
"Our brands, more than ever before, are America's brands – and I'm going to tell that story," said Ross during the AIADA meeting.
"In 2013, we are no longer bogged down by the natural and economic disasters that hobbled us for the past five years. Now is the time to surge forward and grow our businesses, claim new market share, and ensure our continued strength and sustainability."
A member of AIADA's board of directors since 2000, Ross is an active member of the auto retail industry, as well as her community. In 2012, she created the "Pink Ribbon Driven" campaign on behalf of her mother, Norma Ross, who died from breast cancer. Her community involvement includes the Diversity Council for the Centerville-Washington Township, the Miami School Alumni Council, and the Dayton Chamber of Commerce's Minority Business Partnership.
AIADA's annual session also included special recognition of Cincinnati dealer Mike Dever, who was honored with the 2013 David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is named after the late AIADA chairman who was known throughout the auto retail industry for his commitment to his community and the industry. Dever is a 45-year veteran of the auto retail industry and operates nine dealerships in Ohio, Kentucky and Utah.
"Mike embodies the very best of America's international nameplate dealer community. Much like Dave Mungenast himself, Mike's success as a dealer is only surpassed by his reputation as someone who has invested his time and resources into improving his community," said AIADA President Cody Lusk. "I can think of no one better to honor with this year's award."
In addition to Ross, AIADA's 2013 officers of the board of directors are: Ray Mungenast, immediate past chairman (St. Louis); Larry Kull, chairman-elect (Marlton, N.J.); and Greg Kaminsky, secretary/treasurer (El Cajon, Calif.).