Someone 2 Know: Tom Dolan
If you've lived - or bought a car - in northern Nevada over the past few decades, chances are you've heard the name Dolan. Meet the man behind the empire.
If you've lived - or bought a car - in northern Nevada over the past few decades, chances are you've heard the name Dolan.
Behind the auto dealerships is the man responsible for the growing empire, a man determined to give back to the place he calls home.
We caught up with Tom Dolan at his office and found him already busy with calls and appointments. He still uses a traditional, paper, weekly planner. Tom Dolan admits he's old school. He's been in the car business since 1975.
"Don Weir's dad hired me to go to work for Reno Dodge. I went to school with Don Weir and he was my roommate in college,” says Dolan.
That offer changed everything. Dolan had been an insurance salesman, but gave cars a try.
And in 1982...
“The guy from Toyota, who owned the Toyota store here in Reno called me on the phone and wanted me to work for him and take over - a buy-out situation where I could buy them out."
Dolan says it took about 20 years to pay off that purchase, but he kept growing the business into the multi-dealership company we see today.
It took a lot of work.
His son Ryan remembers days at the dealership. "Picking up cigarette butts, washing cars - everything. We grew up in the business and then we all went off to college."
Ryan Dolan and his brother Brady now run the day-to-day operations, but dad is still in charge - and has charged his sons with making sure the business gives generously to charities and schools in northern Nevada. To date, they've donated millions.
"I hope we take it to another level,” says Ryan “We want to make him proud."
Sandi McKee started working for Dolan in high school, more than 30 years ago, and is now Tom’s personal assistant.
"A lot of people know what he does for the community, but I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the work he does behind closed doors. He helps a lot of people and has such a big heart," says Mckee.
It was Dolan’s heart - and his lungs - that almost took his life some three years ago.
"I had a lung replaced and a double bypass in the same day. I was open for 14 hours,” remembers Tom.
"Now he's yelling at us,” laughs Ryan, “So that means he's healthy. We're all - we're all good. But we were very, very lucky."
Lucky and blessed, says Tom who has never lost sight of the northern Nevada community that has helped him, and his family, prosper.
"It’s important that we do give back and take care of the people who took care of us," says Dolan.
Just last month Dolan auto group awarded $30,000 to 11 northern Nevada schools as part of Dolan Class Project.
Now 69 years old, Tom says he may work less hours than before, but he has absolutely no intention of retiring any time soon.