Recognized as one of the top women business owners in America, Cathy Ellis led Atlanta Classic Cars with a combination of gentility and tenacity. This formula served her, and the business, well during the past 25 years.
The daughter of Mercedes-Benz dealer and founder of Atlanta Classic Cars, John Ellis, Sr., Cathy was exposed to her career path at an early age. Through her father, she gained valuable insights into the business and inherited a passion for success. Although he warned her that car sales is no place for a woman, she set her sights on dealer ownership and made her own definitive mark on the industry.
After graduating from the University of Arizona, Cathy worked at a small Volkswagen dealership in Illinois, developing the expertise and hands-on knowledge needed to move ahead. In 1988, she moved to Atlanta to assume ownership of Atlanta Classic Cars in Decatur. Under her direction, the dealership grew to become one of the largest Mercedes-Benz retailers in the United States, and among the largest woman-owned dealerships in the country.
After four years of planning, consumer research and customer demands shaped the design for the new Duluth location for Atlanta Classic Cars, Atlanta Classic Cars moved to the $15 million facility in Gwinnett County after outgrowing its Decatur home. The current location opened July 2003, with an expansion for the Pre-Owned facility and Collision Center completed in 2006.
Ms. Ellis once commented, "While others might say Atlanta Classic Cars is a success in spite of the fact that I am a woman, I believe it is successful, in part, because I am a woman."
Ms. Ellis embraced the Mercedes-Benz corporate-wide commitment to improving one-on-one service and recognizes relationship building is critical to dealership growth. She considered her greatest business accomplishment to be the familial atmosphere of Atlanta Classic Cars, which has led to the longevity of staff and the loyalty of customers. "We care about each other and our clients, " said Ms. Ellis. "And that keeps everybody coming back."
Ms. Ellis enjoyed her time outside of the dealership traveling or at home with her three Brussels Griffons, Mojo and Tinkerbell and Shasha.
She shared her success by leading community endeavors and served on the Carter Center's Board of Counselors and on the Federal Reserve Bank's Small Business Board. Atlanta Classic Cars also sponsors Aid Atlanta, the Women's Resource Center, the National Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse and several other charitable organizations. See our Community page for further information.