Automotive titan Jim Moran, a member of Broward County's wealthiest power elite who brokers big deals and cuts million-dollar checks to charity, talks to some troubled teens during a visit to the Youth Automotive Training Center's new facility in Deerfield Beach.
He calls the center one of his proudest achievements -- though it was initially born out of controversy.
Moran started YATC in 1984 to teach auto mechanics to at-risk teens as part of a court-ordered community service on an income-tax evasion charge.
But after the requirement was met, he continued to support and expand the center, and he and his wife, Jan, went on to become influential philanthropists in Broward County.
They are gracious and generous, hosting nonprofit and political fund raising on their Gallant Lady yachts. JM Family has a political lobbying network headed by Paul Anderson with connections from Tallahassee to Washington, D.C.
The Morans are not just powerbrokers in politics and business. They are benefactors whose gifts spur others.
"I believe when anyone reaches the stage of life where he has almost everything," Moran says, "he should give back and in a really big way -- not just money but also his time."
He and Jan served as general chairpersons for four years and raised $21.8 million for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County. It upgraded facilities and built three new clubs, including the Jim & Jan Moran club in Deerfield Beach.
"Jim and Jan Moran's interest goes over and beyond their financial contribution. Their commitment to children and families in need is genuine," says Ray Ferrero Jr., president of Nova Southeastern University, where a $3 million gift will improve low-income child care and build the Jim and Jan Moran Family Center Village
"They are a powerful force," adds John Johnson, president and CEO of Holy Cross Hospital, where a $6 million gift created the Jim Moran Heart & Vascular Center.
In a 70-year career that began at 14 pumping gas, "The Courtesy Man," as he was called on Chicago television pitching his Ford dealership, became an industry legend.
In 1968, after moving to South Florida and toying with retirement at age 50, he forged a partnership with a Japanese automaker called Toyota.
Today, daughter Pat runs the company that started as a distributor of Toyotas. Under her leadership, the company has grown to $7.2 billion in revenue and is recognized as a top workplace by Fortune.
Pat is distinguishing herself in civic involvement, creating a retreat for families with seriously ill children called Deliver the Dream and starting "The Spirit of JM Family," a corporate volunteer program.
Ten years ago, to improve its image in the minority community, the company began the JM Family African-American Achievers awards to recognize outstanding leaders and give college scholarships.
"What makes Jim Moran unique is not the money," says Don Bowen, president of the Urban League. "He does leadership by example."
Two years ago, at age 82, he and his family created the Jim Moran Foundation as a nonprofit charity that provides grants to programs aimed at children and families.
"I hope they remember me as a `regular guy' who never forgot where he came from," he adds, "and a `pretty good car guy.'"
Joan Fleischer Tamen can be reached at email@example.com or 305-810-5030.