The Sobh file Featured

6:04am EDT January 24, 2005
Born: 1944, Torreon, Mexico

Education: High school graduate, Mexico

First job: My dad had a clothing store in the local market, and I used to help after school. First job in the U.S. was as a janitor at Shoppers World.

Career moves: Department manager, Shoppers World, 1960; Inland Steel Co., 1962; foreman expediter, U.S. Steel Tubeworks, 1965; assistant store manager, Spartan's Department store, Gary, Ind., 1966; salesman, McAnary Ford, 1967; Army active duty serving in Germany, 1969; sales manager, then partner, McAnary Ford, 1970; opened furniture store in Torreon, Mexico, 1980; Gurly Leep Buick Mercdes Benz, Mishawaka, Ind., 1985; owner Lou Sobh Automotive, Conyers, Ga., 1990

Boards: Chairman, Georgia Buick Dealers Association, 1992-1996; president, Pontiac GMC Truck Advertising Association, 1995-1999; board member, General Motors Minority Dealer Advisory Council, 1994-present; board member, Pontiac GMC Truck Southeast Regional Dealer Council, 1999-2000; chairman, General Motors Minority Dealer Advisory Council, 2001-2003; board member, General Motors President's Dealer Council, 2001; board member, Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce, 2001-present; board member, United Americas Bank, 2002-present; board member, National Council of La Raza, 2003; currently, board member, National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers

Awards: Hispanic Trends magazine "Best in Business Award" 2003; nominated for Time magazine "Quality Dealer of the Year Award," 2004; Gwinnett division of the American Heart Association, Corporate Honoree award, 2003; United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Hispanic Businessman of the Year award for the Southeast region, 2002; Champions of Life award at the Mobile Bowl, 2002; Hispanic Business magazine, No. 10 of 500 Hispanic businesses for 2003

Residence: Duluth

What is the greatest business lesson you've learned?

You get in enough trouble doing things right. In business, no matter how good you try to do things, sometimes something happens. So, one of the things that I have always strived for all my life is to tell the people who work for me to do things right. And even doing things right, you're going to get in enough trouble.

What is the greatest business challenge you've faced, and how did you overcome it?

The greatest business challenge I ever faced was to get my foot in the door to get an automobile dealership, my first one in Conyers -- getting the capital that it required and getting the factory to listen to me and open it up, give me the opportunity there.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?

That's a tough one. There's a lot of people I admire in business. One of the smartest businesspeople was Henry Ford. One of the things I like about what he did was coming up with a process in which he could build automobiles that could be affordable to everyone. He made a fortune doing it.