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The Passing Of Mr.Jack Helfman (A Brief History)


jack Helfman

Jack Helfman

We have all been saddened to hear of the loss of our founder Jack Helfman. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and employees.

You May Read The Houston Chronicle Write-Up Here

The following post is a brief history covering his business success as well as his charitable work in the Houston area.

South of I-10 on Washington Ave., on the corner of Brashear and Washington, there is a small white sign, with red letters reading “W&R Auto Sales”. It’s at this exact location in 1959 that Mr. Samuel Helfman (Jack Helfmans Father) opened a used car lot named Helfman Motors. For the next 13 years a young Jack Helfman would work side by side with his father,honing his sales skills, while at the same time, helping to build a successful used car dealership. The experience Jack Helfman gained in the next 13 years laid the foundation for what would be a successful 39 year relationship with Chrysler.

Washington Dealership

Washington Dealership

Fueled by the success of Helfman Motors, Jack began looking into the possibility of selling new cars. He had his eyes set on a small dealership, inside the loop, owned by a local businessman named Bob Ring. Soon the papers were signed, and in 1972 the Helfmans took control of River Oaks Chrysler Plymouth. Unfortunately Samuel Helfman would pass away shortly after the Helfmans acquired River Oaks Chrysler.

River Oaks Chrsyler

River Oaks Chrsyler

Under Jack Helfmans leadership River Oaks Chrysler would see great growth, even during the 70’s when Chryslers own financial health was failing. When asked what attributed to the dealerships success during that time, Mr. Helfman said “The Houston economy is very strong, we rely on repeat business, we’re centrally located…you take care of your customers, and you can exist.”Chrysler would receive a 1 billion dollar loan from the Federal government, and under the leadership of Lee Iacocca, would rebound. River Oaks Chrysler was already ahead of the game, and business grew.

In 1994 Helfman added Jeep to the River Oaks family. River Oaks Chrysler Plymouth was now River Oaks Chrysler Plymouth Jeep. This addition led to the expansion of the dealership, and in 1994 they added a three level parking garage, renovated the sales floor, added a second floor to house administration, and built a new three story parts warehouse. Over the years ROCPJ became one of the largest Chrysler dealers in the nation.

In the 80’s Houstonians started looking south for housing, and the city of Stafford was starting to see growth. Mr. Helfman predicted the southward trend, and purchased land just inside the Stafford city limits. Soon Mr. Helfman would break ground on his new dealership, and on Nov 11th, 1981 the doors opened to Helfman Ford. The dealership would see immense growth, and eventually span almost 16 acres, and employee over 200 workers. With the addition of Helfman Ford, Helfman Enterprise  was almost complete.

Helfman Ford

Helfman Ford

In 2002 Helfman purchased land just outside the loop off I-10, a major artery between Houston, and the growing city of Katy. Soon he would begin construction of his third dealership, and in September of 2002 the doors to Helfman Dodge opened. Eventually both River Oaks and Helfman Dodge would have all four Chrysler makes under their roofs. By January of 2011 Helfman DCJR was ranked #1 in Texas for new car sales for Dodge, and #1 in Houston for Dodge Chrysler Jeep and Ram. In September of 2010  a proposal was submitted to FIAT in an effort to get approval to build a FIAT dealership. In October  Mr. Helfman was informed  by FIAT that approval for a new dealer was granted. Ground is set to be broken on the new facility this summer.

Helfman Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram

Helfman Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram

During Mr. Helfmans years of success as a dealer, he had been very involved in the community. For the past 30+ years he had been a major contributor to the Seven Acres Jewish Senior Care Services, a nursing home in the Houston area. Contributing not only money, but time. Throughout his years of service to Seven Acres, he donated wheel chairs, walkers, and other supplies as were needed. He also encouraged his children into the service of the elderly, and on many occasions they would spend their time reading to the residents. When it came time for the annual Seven Acres Jewish Senior Care Services Gala, he would donate a car or truck for raffle, and personally make the calls necessary to sell the raffle tickets. In 2001 Jack Helfman and his wife Elaine were presented with the 2001 Sprit of Life Award at that years annual Seven Acres Gala. But this is only one of many charities he has given to. He annually, contributed to: The United Jewish Federation, Muscular Dystrophy, March Of Dimes, United Way, and many others. Seven Acres is simply the one believed to have been closest to his heart.

Seven Acres Senior Care Facility

Seven Acres Senior Care Facility

Mr.Helfman has been honored over the years for many achievements. In 2004 Jack Helfman was the recipient of the 2004 Time Magazine Quality Award. This award is given to new car dealers for their exceptional performance in their dealership, and distinguished community service. This award is given to 63 dealers out of nearly 20,000. This is the highest honor achievable by a dealer.  Mr. Helfman was a owner operator of  Chrysler dealerships in Houston for almost 40 years and has owned or operated dealerships in Houston for 50+ years.

The Helfman group of dealerships employee 500+ individuals in the Houston area.

“We will miss your casual strolls through the dealership,that unmistakeable walk. We never knew where you might pop up. I guess you kept us on our toes.”

Mr Helfman At Chair

Mr Helfman In His Office

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5 responses

  1. Im saddened to hear of the passing of Jack and send my deepest grattitude to the family.I must share this brief form of kindnesss Jack demonstrated towards me. Being a minority in the car business and new at it 20 years ago he gave me some pionters that directed me towards great customer service. It was simple BJ as he called me,we put new tires on every car before it was sold from the car lot. That really didnt mean alot a first, but the more I thought about I began to do the same for our cars. The truth is that it worked because customers began to refer other customers and we began to get a good reputation of caring about not only selling cars but safety, values, and going the extra step to make a customer feel that that are valued. The same way Jack made me feel. He always had something to say to me and I was really excited everytime he would give me pointers because after all Jack was the Master Theologian of the Auto Industry. I will miss him, you dont find many people like him in todays society that is geuinely compassionate towards others.Thank God for You

    May 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    • Thank You for your kind words and for sharing your story. This is a time for reflection. To look back through the years and remember how Jack Helfman impacted each of our lives. If we can, to share them with others, as you have done here. Each story helps us all get a better understanding of who Jack Helfman was. God Bless

      May 30, 2011 at 2:12 pm

  2. Awesome Guy

    May 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm

  3. Gene Rouner

    I was very sad to hear of Mr. Helfman’s passing. I had the privilege of working at Helfman Ford for seven years. He was a man who deservedly had the respect of all his employees I could not help but chuckle at the comment made of never knowing when Mr. Helfman would wander in. Yes, it did keep us on our toes. To the Helfman family I wish to send my heart felt condolences. He will truly be missed.

    May 30, 2011 at 2:47 pm

  4. Norm Uhl

    Alan,
    Sorry to hear about the passing of your father.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm

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