Jim Ellis Automotive founder, Jim Ellis, passed away at the age of 90 on Friday, December 9, 2022. He passed peacefully, surrounded by his family, and all who knew him have no doubt that he has since heard the words, “well done, good and faithful servant.”
Jim Ellis, or Mr. Ellis as he was known to most that worked for him, was a man that was known for his unwavering faith, admirable humility, extensive generosity and caring disposition. These characteristics of his were clear in the way that he shaped Jim Ellis Automotive over the years. The impact of Mr. Ellis can be seen in things like the volume of returning customers, the long tenures of employees, the earned respect of those who knew him, the generosity of the company, and so much more.
Coming from humble beginnings, what began as a significant business risk for Jim and Billie Ellis in 1970, turned into a growing and thriving business over the years to follow. From the opening of Mr. Ellis’ first Volkswagen store in 1971, the automotive group has grown to 17 brands and 20 dealerships — allowing the Ellis family to offer employment to thousands of Atlantans over the years, contribute millions of dollars to local charities, and provide a business for future generations of the Ellis family to grow into and manage.
After stepping back from the business in 2015, Mr. Ellis proudly passed the reigns along to his son, Jimmy, who at that time became the president and CEO of Jim Ellis Automotive Group. Jimmy unexpectedly passed away on November 5, 2022, following an abrupt medical incident and at a time when he was truly thriving and enjoying what he was doing in running the automotive group.
Jimmy had so many of his own characteristics that enabled him to take what his father started and grow it beyond what many might have imagined the potential to be. He had a hunger for expansion and the prowess to bring that vision of growth to fruition. One of the beauties of Jimmy was that he was able to do all this while still honing in on the values and pillars that Mr. Ellis established for Jim Ellis Automotive more than 50 years ago.
Jimmy was a visionary and leader that led the Jim Ellis Automotive Group to many successes during his time as president and CEO, literally almost doubling the company in size in regards to the number of dealerships and brands offered — increasing the business to 20 dealerships and 17 brands. To those that knew him professionally, he was the embodiment of business success and savvy. Self-taught in so many areas, working his way up from cleaning vehicles to becoming a titan in the automotive industry. Between Jimmy’s intellect and the values instilled in him by his parents, Jim and Billie Ellis, he was destined for success.
Not only did these men inspire each other, but also those working for them. What they have built will continue to inspire for years to come as Jim Ellis Automotive Group is left in the capable hands of the third generation of Ellis family leaders — Wesley Ellis, Stacey Ellis Hodges and Brooke Ellis Gatlin. The values and mission instilled in them by their grandfather, Jim Ellis and the passion demonstrated by Jimmy Ellis will be carried forward in the continued operation and growth of Jim Ellis Automotive Group.