Jan 31 2023 8:00 AM
Celebrating Black History Month by saying “thanks”
At Exeter, showing gratitude when we reach a milestone, achieve something special or observe an important occasion is part of who we are as a company. It’s engrained in our culture. So, as we turn our attention in February to celebrating Black History Month, we want to offer thanks to a great American we should all know - Homer B. Roberts, America's first African American auto dealer.
Roberts was born in Ash Grove, Mo., in 1888 and grew up in Wellington, Kan. He studied electrical engineering and was a college graduate. He also was a veteran of World War I and the first African American to attain the rank of lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Yet, as special as that was, it’s not why we chose to honor him this month. What makes his accomplishments particularly interesting to those of us who build, sell, fix or finance cars for a living is that Roberts was the first African American to own an automobile dealership in the United States.
According to his biography1, he began selling cars in 1919. He purchased a building in Kansas City in 1923 to house what became known as Roberts’ "Motor Mart." He specialized in selling the Hupmobile, but also sold many other domestic models as well. By 1928, Roberts had sold more than $2 million worth of cars – a value of about $35 million in 2023. Then in 1929, he moved to Chicago to open the Roberts-Campbell dealership in the Grand Hotel.
As we recognize the importance of Black History Month, we want to highlight Roberts’ accomplishments and thank him for making it possible for all of us to do what we do. Those of us who work in any part of the “car business” owe our livelihoods to Homer Roberts and other pioneers like him in the automotive industry. Their energy, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit paved the way for all of us.
We’re proud to tell his story and offer it as a shining example of why we celebrate and say “thanks” here at Exeter during Black History Month.
If you ever have questions, concerns or comments, chat with us directly through the DealerPortal or call our Dealer Operations Group at 1-855-4EXETER (855-439-3837).
1 Ford, S.J. (1999). Biography of Homer B. Roberts, Automobile Dealer. Missouri Valley Special Collections. Retrieved from: https://kchistory.org/islandora/object/kchistory%253A115439.
Exeter Finance LLC is a non-prime auto finance company headquartered in Irving, Texas. The company partners with franchised and independent auto dealers throughout the country to make car ownership a reality for consumers. For more information, call our Dealer Operations Group at 1-855-4EXETER (855-439-3837).