Jim Moran, a Chicago auto dealer who went on to found a multi-billion dollar firm, JM Family Enterprises Inc., died April 24, 2007 in Hillsboro Beach, FL. He was 88.

Described as a highlight of a long career, the Deerfield Beach, FL, firm is an $11.1 billion diversified automotive corporation ranked by Forbes as the 18th largest privately held company in the country.

Its flagship subsidiary, Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC (SET), is the world’s largest independent distributor of Toyota vehicles. Moran was active in JM Family until the end.

From his days in Chicago of selling soft drinks at sandlot baseball games at age seven to building an automotive marketing empire, Moran’s philosophy for success stayed the same: Work hard, treat people fairly and start every day with an idea of how to do things better.

His employees say he was the consummate boss, because, in his mind, people worked with him, rather than for him. He is remembered for his humbleness, kindness and generosity to an array of people and causes.

His automotive career started in 1939 when he borrowed $360 to purchase a Sinclair gas station in Chicago and began selling used cars on the site four years later. He then became the No.1 Hudson dealer in the country; the first ever to advertise on television; the No.1 Ford dealer in the world; and, in 1961, the first and only car dealer featured on the cover of Time magazine.

In 1966, he moved to South Florida where he founded JM Family and also was the largest-volume Pontiac dealer for the 20 years he owned JM Pontiac. He once joked that his original intention of going to Florida was to retire.

In 2005, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, MI.

“No leader in our industry or community has ever been more accomplished, respected or beloved than Jim Moran,” says Colin Brown, JM Family’s president and CEO.