Thomas Moorehead is the First African American Rolls Royce Dealer
Thomas Moorehead is the inaugural African American Rolls Royce car dealer, possessing an extensive and varied background that includes stints as an analyst at Mobile and Chrysler corporations as well as holding a master’s degree from the University of Michigan.
He mortgaged his house and used up all his savings to attend a dealer training program before opening his first luxury dealership. Now he owns eight dealerships as well as the Marriott Residence Inn at National Harbor.
Early Life and Education
Thomas Moorehead grew up in Monroe, Louisiana. His parents believed the path to respectability lay in graduating from college, earning a doctorate and teaching. Although Thomas achieved these three milestones successfully, he defied family expectations by opting out of his PhD program in favor of exploring automobile sales as his path.
Moorehead eventually made automotive history by becoming the first African American Rolls-Royce car dealer and has expanded his business portfolio to include real estate, hotels and real estate investments. Alongside his wife Joyce Anne he created the Thomas and Joyce Moorehead Foundation which offers scholarships for college students, families and nonprofit organizations. Today he owns National Harbor hotel as well as more than 40 properties; also providing mentorship for young people interested in automobile careers.
Thomas Moorehead embarked on his entrepreneurial dream after college. James Bradley of Bradley Automotive Group introduced him to car dealership. Later he took part in General Motors’ inaugural minority dealer training program before opening Sterling Motorcars in Virginia.
Moorehead became the first African American ever awarded a full-service Rolls Royce franchise in 2013 and since has expanded his luxury vehicle collection to include Lamborghini and McLaren models. Additionally, he has invested in hospitality with 45+ properties nationwide in his portfolio.
Moorehead has used his success to empower others by funding scholarships for low-income students and supporting charities that support underserved communities. Along with his wife Joyce, they run the Thomas & Joyce Moorehead Foundation which strives to inspire low-income children in pursuing their highest aspirations goals.
Achievement and Honors
Thomas Moorehead took an unconventional route in pursuit of his Ph.D degree. After just a few credits and his dissertation were complete, he decided to switch programs at University of Michigan – where he served as Director of Community Services while also studying urban and regional planning – and join Bradley Automotive Group where they taught him all aspects of car dealership business from ground level up.
Moorehead opened his first dealership with the support of fraternity brother James Bradley in 1987. Moorehead is widely respected for his philanthropy efforts and has given money to educational institutions such as Morehouse College. Additionally, he served on multiple boards like Virginia Automobile Dealer Board as chairman for two terms.
In 2004, Thomas Moorehead created the Joyce and Thomas Moorehead Foundation to award scholarships for students as well as make donations to civic causes and historically black colleges. Additionally, he became one of the founding members of the National Association of Minority Auto Dealers where he served on its executive committee.
Thomas Moorehead has served as both chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and as a member of its VA Dealers Board. Together with Joyce, they fund scholarships for college junior and senior year students as well as supporting Lift Me Up Therapeutic Horse Riding program – two other endeavors they support through scholarships.
Moorehead has received numerous honors and awards, such as Washington Metropolitan Area Top 100 Business Award; Black Enterprise Dealer of the Year; and 2014 Morehouse College Candle in the Dark Business Award. Additionally, he holds memberships in Sigma Pi Phi and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternities and holds 33rd degree Mason status.
His humble childhood in Monroe, Louisiana provided no hint that he would become the first African American to own and operate a Rolls Royce dealership.
An individual from Monroe, Louisiana whose humble upbringing provided no indication of the luxury he would market and enjoy himself became the world’s first African American Rolls-Royce dealer and owner of Harley-Davidson of Washington D.C. as well as an independent dealership for BMW and Mini cars. At 69 years old entrepreneur also owns the Harley-Davidson of Washington D.C. as well as having dealerships for BMW and Mini cars.
Moorehead and Joyce established the Joyce and Thomas Moorehead Foundation to assist students, families and nonprofit organizations throughout northern Virginia. Through this philanthropy they offer scholarships for college-bound high schoolers as well as emergency funding to new college matriculants.
Their Pinecrest home, which sold last year for $6.5 million, features eight bedrooms, 10 bathrooms and five half-baths; as well as an impressive 500 bottle wine cellar. Moorehead once surprised Torsten Muller-Otvos – head of Rolls Royce – by raising its hood, thus officially unveiling it for him to see.