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Samuel Roberts

Samuel Roberts

Roberts Motors Inc
Alton, Illinois

“The most rewarding part of being in the automotive business is seeing all of the families that our business has had a positive impact on for more than 50 years.”

“The most rewarding part of being in the automotive business is seeing all of the families that our business has had a positive impact on for more than 50 years,” nominee Roberts said.

A 1958 graduate of Marquette Catholic High School in Alton, Roberts attended Southern Illinois University, then located in Alton, and joined the United States Marine Corps in 1961, retiring from the Marine Corps Forces Reserve in 1991 with the rank of sergeant major.

Roberts did not set out to be a car dealer. He was working for A&P (the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company) grocery store for 10 years when Bill Roberts (no relation) came into the market in 1964 and took a liking to him. He met with the Chrysler/Plymouth dealer, who saw immediate potential and convinced him to leave the stability of A&P for the car business by guaranteeing him that his current salary would be matched.

“We shook hands and that was the start of a beautiful relationship,” Roberts said. They purchased the Ford franchise in 1967, and Roberts eventually bought all of the stock from the original Roberts family, making him the sole owner of what is today Roberts Motors. “We celebrated 50 years with Ford this year,” he said. His son, John, is the general manager of the store and his late son, Sam Jr., also worked at the dealership until his passing in 2014.

An avid member of his state dealers association, Roberts is the immediate past chairman of the group and has served on the board of directors, executive committee and as vice- chairman, secretary and treasurer. He is also president of the Alton-Wood River New Car Dealers Association.

Roberts is a big supporter of Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois, which offers careers in automotive technology. “I recently received Ford’s approval to install their ACE [Automotive Career Exploration] program in the automotive department,” he said. “This will help future technicians gain valuable Ford certifications while attending college.”

He added, “I feel that being a part of the fabric of our community is crucial to building a successful business. We actively participate in all aspects of our community. We are known as one of the most reliable contributors in our market.”

Roberts was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Peter Sander, president of the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Sharon, have four children and six grandchildren.