Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence

    Jim Ellis

About Mr. Ellis

Growing up, Jim Ellis was no stranger to hard work as he had many jobs he held all at once. He worked on a farm, had a milk and paper route, performed some construction, ran a concessions business at Grant Park, and ran a laundry route.

By the time he completed West Georgia College and Georgia State University in 1957 with a BBA in general management, he had worked as a prison guard and foreman; sold insurance, IBM Machines, and real estate; and held various other jobs to work his way through college. 

After returning from serving two years in the U.S. Army, Mr. Ellis went back to what he knew, holding a variety of jobs until he found his place in the automobile business with General Motors in 1960. During his tenure at General Motors, Jim was asked to relocate to the company's headquarters in Detroit, Michigan. Instead, he chose to continue raising his family in Georgia, and in 1965, Jim was hired at Chris Motors Volkswagen in Decatur.

The Beginning of Jim Ellis Automotive

In 1970, Jim Ellis and his wife Billie had an opportunity to establish their very own automobile dealership. They took the biggest financial plunge of their lives, sold several of their assets, used all of their savings, cashed in Billie's retirement fund from over 15 years at Georgia Tech, and borrowed the balance to begin Jim Ellis Volkswagen in 1971.

What began as a significant business risk turned into a growing and thriving business for the Ellis family over the years to follow. As a result, the Ellis family has been able to offer employment to thousands of Atlantans over the years and provide a business for future generations of the Ellis family to grow into and eventually manage.

   Jim Ellis VW Chamblee Groundbreaking - 1970   
Watch Our Iconic TV Commercial from the 1970s

Establishing a Family Culture

Jim Ellis was active in the oversight and management of Jim Ellis Automotive up until 2015 when he stepped back and turned the reigns over to his son, Jimmy. Continuing the legacy of his father and adding in an immense appetite for expansion, Jimmy nearly doubled the size of the company in both dealerships and employees during his seven-year tenure as president and CEO of Jim Ellis Automotive Group. In late 2022, the company lost both their founder and president and CEO with passing of both Jim Ellis and Jimmy Ellis. With the unexpected loss of Jimmy during his time as president and CEO, several third-generation family members that were already active in the automotive group stepped into new or expanded leadership roles within the company. 

Founder Jim Ellis' daughters, Karen Ellis Black and Kristi Ellis Cohron, both serve as corporate officers. Third-generation family members in leadership include Wes Ellis (son of Jimmy Ellis), serving as company president and CEO; Stacey Ellis Hodges (daughter of Jimmy Ellis), serving as vice president of group support operations and corporate directors; and Brooke Ellis Gatlin (daughter of Karen Ellis Black), serving as vice president of human resources. 

The Ellis family also has a few fourth-generation family members that have also now entered the workforce at Jim Ellis Automotive. Brooke's two children, son Tyler and daughter Ivie both currently hold positions within Jim Ellis Automotive Group. Ivie Ellis Gatlin completed a degree in business management and now works within the Jim Ellis Advertising Agency. Tyler Gatlin completed technician training and works as an automotive technician at Volvo Cars Mall of Georgia. Additional fourth-generation family members are likely to start careers in the organization their grandfather founded upon completing their education. 

Beyond direct descendants of Founder Jim Ellis, there are extended family members that can also be found working within the company. Jim Ellis' niece, Mickey Patterson, and her sons Andrew and Chris Roper, also work for the automotive group. The notion of family is engrained in the culture of Jim Ellis Automotive Group.

The Jim Ellis Promise

An important key to success for the family-owned business has been the adoption of a simple selling philosophy -- strive to treat every customer like they are family, also known as "The Jim Ellis Promise."

The Jim Ellis Promise is simply a way of emphasizing the higher level of service customers can expect when they choose Jim Ellis for their automotive needs. It's more than words, it's how our employees strive to perform their jobs every day. The philosophy is based upon principles such as: greet each customer with a warm welcome, respect each client's valuable time, and of course, treat every customer like they are family.

While these principles were a natural part of who Jim Ellis was, they have been developed into a written business philosophy that additional generations of the Ellis family have made a point to practice themselves and implement throughout the company's workforce.

50 Years of Excellence

In 2021, the Jim Ellis Automotive Group passed the milestone of 50 years in business, years that brought success in both growth and reputation. The company expanded from one flagship Volkswagen dealership in Chamblee to 20 dealerships located in the metro Atlanta area -- Buford, Chamblee, Kennesaw, Marietta, McDonough, Sandy Springs and South Fulton.

The Ellis family credits their thousands of loyal customers and hard-working employees for their years of success and growth. While many things can change over a half century, the automotive group continues to hold to their values and commitment to the customers they serve.

Jim Ellis Automotive Group currently employs over 1,600 employees, with 20 dealerships, representing 17 iconic brands. The portfolio of brands includes Alfa Romeo, Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Genesis, GMC, Hyundai, Kia, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.
View Photos, Newspaper Clippings and More from the Last 50 Years

Ongoing Community Support

The concept of giving back is something that Jim and Billie instilled in their children and it now has carried on from generation to generation to become part of the Jim Ellis Automotive Group DNA. 

Through the Jim and Billie Ellis Foundation, the company has donated over 50 million dollars to local organizations. Jim and Billie's leadership has inspired their children and the company's employees to give back to the community.

Each year, the Jim Ellis Automotive Group raises money to support local organizations that help serve underprivileged children and women in need. One of the ways that is accomplished is through an annual Holiday Giving Campaign. The amount donated annually through this giving campaign averages around $65,000 per year. Charities supported with these funds include the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Empty Stocking Fund, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and the Atlanta Children's Shelter.

Whether it's supporting child education programs, first responders, teachers, women, filling local food banks, or partnering with organizations to provide shelter for the homeless; the Jim Ellis Automotive Group is dedicated to serving those in need within the communities they serve.

Preparing for the Next 50 Years and Beyond

Staying up to date with technology, Jim Ellis Automotive Group has enhanced the car-buying experience with the Jim Ellis Express Way - their way of making a vehicle purchase quick, easy and more convenient than ever before. 

The Jim Ellis Express Way breaks away from the traditional car-buying experience by allowing customers to shop for their next vehicle completely online. The digital tool enables customers to shop, buy and trade their way and on their own schedule. Customers can shop thousands of vehicles, configure their payment, value their trade, secure financing and more - all from a mobile device, tablet or computer. 

Pivoting towards a more sustainable future, automakers are electrifying their lineups and Jim Ellis dealerships are proud to offer several electric and hybrid vehicles in their inventory. From the Audi e-Tron, Chevrolet Bolt, and Porsche Taycan to the Volkswagen ID.4, Jim Ellis Automotive Group is moving aggressively to expand their electric-vehicle offerings with several new models set to arrive in the next couple of years. Additionally, service teams and staff continue to undergo training on these new electric vehicles to ensure proper care for the latest slew of technology-packed automobiles. 
Watch the Jim Ellis Express Way Video

Thank You!

As we look to the future, we take this moment to celebrate our past, and to celebrate everyone who played a part along the way. 

We are truly blessed and humbled by all the support and sincerely thank you for being a part of our story. Thank you for allowing Jim Ellis Automotive the opportunity to earn your business when buying or servicing a vehicle.

50 years of excellence…and we're just getting started!

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