On September 21st Fort Lauderdale awoke to the loss of a legend. Rick Case bought his first car at 14 years old, did a few repairs, and sold it for a profit. From there he opened his first lot when he was 19, and the rest is history. From the world’s largest motorcycle dealer group to importing the first US-Spec Toyotas in 1966, he took chances that other entrepreneurs would never consider. This year marks the 59th anniversary of the Rick Case Auto Group.
From his humble childhood in Akron, Ohio, he spent the last few decades as a prolific philanthropist. The Boca Raton Concours was his brainchild, managed by the local Boys & Girls Club which is just one of his outlets to improve the lives of young people in South Florida. Other entities he championed include the American Cancer Association, Cleveland Clinic, Jack & Jill’s Children’s Center, and Nova Southeastern University. He never stopped trying to find new ways to help anyone who was in-need.
As his businesses expanded, he and his wife Rita kept their priorities on giving. In 1970, one of his Service Departments erupted in fire, forcing Rick to escape through a small window. Even with much of his body covered in 3rd-degree burns, he transformed his hospital room into an office. Taking calls from his team despite the trauma of skin grafts is pure dedication.
He and his team set records that will stand for years. From selling 1,222 Hondas in one month to being the most successful Acura dealer for a decade. He opened one of the first Hyundai dealers in 1986, and it outsold every other Korean importer for years. When reliability issues arose in 1996, he took a leap of faith to offer the first 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty, a move that shocked the brand’s top brass to support every Hyundai and Kia customer to this day.
It was not about moving metal, it has been about building lasting relationships with customers. Repeat business and word of mouth are everything in this industry, and it has prompted an outpouring of respect from colleagues and competitors alike. Mike Jackson, Chairman & CEO, Autonation said: “Entrepreneurs are the artists of the business world, or the blank space. There’s nothing happening and an entrepreneur comes along and says, ‘Aha! I see how to make this magic happen.’ And they bring it about. So, it’s about creativity in business; it’s an artistic ability. And Rick Case has that – he has it in spades.”
Rick Case Automotive Group employs over 1,300 people across 16 dealerships. Locations across Florida, Georgia and Ohio and their communities have lost a great man. Our friend is survived by Rita, his wife of 40 years; their son Rick Case Jr and wife Christine, Ryan and Francesca Case, daughter Raquel Travaline and her husband Greg, and 5 grandkids.
Rick Case: October 22, 1942 – September 21, 2020