Recognized as one of the top women business owners in America, Cathy Ellis leads Atlanta Classic Cars with a combination of gentility and tenacity. This formula has 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 has 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.
According to Ms. Ellis, “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 embraces Mercedes-Benz corporate-wide commitment to improving one-on-one service and recognizes relationship building is critical to dealership growth. She considers 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.”
Thank you Cathy, for making Atlanta Classic Cars the place that it is today. You will be missed. -Jesse Cannon-Wallace, ACC since 2003