Bob Thomas, 60, grew up in Bethesda Maryland. His father, Harold, a WWII veteran in the Eighth Airforce, was a career executive with IBM. Bob attended St. John’s College High School in Washington D.C., the largest military day school in the country. His desire was to attend the Air Force Academy, where he had an appointment, but his eyesight prevented him from passing the physical exam. Instead, he attended Princeton University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1972. After graduating from Princeton he was drafted by the Army in the second year of the lottery draft but a previous kidney infection prevented him from passing the Army physical. He tried instead, to join the Washington DC police force but his 4F military status prevented them from hiring him. He began selling cars at Bethesda Ford in 1972 and after 5 years in the retail automobile business attended Harvard Business School and earned his MBA with High Honors in 1979.
Bob moved to Ft. Wayne in 1980 to resurrect the bankrupt Lincoln Mercury dealership which had been closed for 8 months. It was right after the second Arab oil embargo and the country was in a recession as deep as the one we are experiencing now. Interest rates were 21% and demand for Lincoln Mercury products was at an all time low. Despite the worst economic conditions imaginable for a Lincoln Mercury dealership, with a combination of enthusiasm and hard work, and with the support of the many people Bob employed at the dealership, Bob turned Fort Wayne Lincoln Mercury into the largest Lincoln Mercury dealership in the region and one of the largest in the entire country in its very first year.
Bob went on to acquire Bob Jackson Ford in 1992 renaming it Summit City Ford and in 1997 acquired Allen County Motors. He consolidated all three dealerships under the Dimension banner and today, combined with Capitol City Ford in Indianapolis Bob is the largest Ford Motor Co. dealer in Indiana. Over the years Bob has employed over 1500 Hoosiers and paid over $240 Million in salaries and benefits to employees in Indiana.
In 1981 Bob married his wife Suzanne, a graduate of St. Mary’s College in South Bend. Bob and Suzanne have 3 daughters, Elizabeth, age 27, Cameron, age 22, and Meredith, who passed away in 2003 at the age of 17. Elizabeth graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2005, and from Emory University School of Law in 2008. Cameron graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2011 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Bob and Suzanne are staunch supporters of Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana’s only full scale children’s research hospital and one of the largest in the nation.