Larry Thomas Brown, president of Ottawa Ford-Lincoln-Mercury and Kia of Ottawa, Illinois, and former owner of Star Toyota in Merrillville, Indiana and Landmark Ford in Niles, Illinois, is one of the first of two African Americans to serve on the National Automobile Dealers Association’s board of directors. Brown was born in Inkster, Michigan on April 21, 1947 to Mattie Lewis Brown and Nander Brown, a mechanic and preacher. Early in Brown’s life, the family moved to Detroit, Michigan where Brown began his education in the public school system.
After graduating from Western High School in Detroit, Brown served as sergeant in the United States Air Force from 1965 to 1969. He then returned to Michigan where he attended Wayne County Community College in Detroit while working at Ford Motor Company. In August of 1971, he married Angelina Caldwell Brown. He continued his education during the first years of his marriage, receiving his B.S. degree from Wayne State University in Detroit in 1973. Brown earned his M.A. degree in management and supervision from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan in 1979 and also graduated from the Ford Motor Company Dealer Training Program. He left Ford Motor Company to start his own dealership in 1985.
In addition to serving on the National Automobile Dealers Association’s board of directors, Brown served as chairman of its Dealership Operations and Industry Relations Committees and the Executive Board and Public Affairs Committees. Brown also served Ford-Lincoln-Mercury Minority Dealers Association as president, chairman, vice president of Ford Division, vice president of Customer Service Division and as treasurer. He is past president and chairman of National Association of Minority Automobile Dealerships and remains a board member.
Brown’s awards and honors include Operation PUSH’s Crystal Spirit Award, the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealership’s Jesse Jones Vision Award, Dollars and Sense magazine’s America’s Best and Brightest Award, and America’s Outstanding Dealer Award. He was inducted into Western High School’s Hall of Fame in 1994.