Builder of Dealership Empire Killed in Crash

Cornelius Martin, founder and president of one of the nation's largest minority-owned automotive dealership firms, died last month when a pickup truck swerved into an oncoming lane and collided with his motorcycle on U.S. 79 in Logan County, KY. He was riding with three fellow motorcyclists, one of whom was also killed and another critically injured. The woman driving the pickup truck faces charges

Cornelius Martin, founder and president of one of the nation's largest minority-owned automotive dealership firms, died last month when a pickup truck swerved into an oncoming lane and collided with his motorcycle on U.S. 79 in Logan County, KY.

He was riding with three fellow motorcyclists, one of whom was also killed and another critically injured. The woman driving the pickup truck faces charges of first-degree assault, second-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Martin, 57, began his automotive career in 1968 washing cars at a General Motors dealership in Ohio. He bought his first dealership in 1985, an Oldsmobile-Cadillac dealership in Bowling Green, KY.

He turned Martin Management Group into one of the nation's largest dealer groups, ranking 86th on this year's Ward's Megadealer 100, with $386 million in total revenue.

Martin's 15 dealerships, located in Arizona, California, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, sold 20,457 new and used vehicles in 2005.

He was an active member of the General Motors Minority Dealer Assn., and served as chairman of the board of regents of Western Kentucky University.

Martin is survived by a wife and three children. In a Ward's interview last year, Martin spoke of his children following in his footsteps. “Probably we'll have them work for someone else to have them work their way up the ladder, and then bring them back here,” he said.

Of his own plans in the business he said, “I figure I'm good for another 10 years at least.”

TAGS: Dealers Retail
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