Nickolas Shammas - Legacy
Nickolas N. Shammas was the founder of the Shammas Group of businesses. An entrepreneur since his student years at Fairfax High back in the 1930s when he began refurbishing and selling used cars, Mr. Shammas went on to create several successful used car operations in Los Angeles and Studio City. But it was his purchase of Felix Chevrolet in 1955 that began his astonishingly successful run as a leading new car dealer in Southern California. In 1958, Mr. Shammas moved Felix Chevrolet from its original location at 12th and Olive to join the string of auto-related businesses on Figueroa Street.
Over the years, Nick Shammas’ Felix Chevrolet (Cadillac was added in 1995) was joined by Downtown L.A. Motors Mercedes-Benz, Nissan of Downtown L.A., Volkswagen of Downtown L.A., Porsche of Downtown L.A. and Audi of Downtown L.A. While many auto dealerships left Downtown L.A. for the suburbs, Nick Shammas continued to expand his auto retail holdings. He acquired the Petroleum Securities Building at Olympic and Flower. It houses the company’s executive offices, as well as Workmen’s Auto Insurance Company.
Nearly 800 people are employed by the Shammas Group, and Mr. Shammas sought to create a work environment where energy, initiative, pride and service flourished. Nick Shammas was always an ardent supporter of Los Angeles. L.A. was his city since childhood, and his faith in the future of Downtown L.A. has helped enhance the business climate in an area that has experienced both decline and renaissance. From his initial foray into Downtown L.A., when he and Felix the Cat reinvigorated auto retailing, Nick Shammas was determined to preserve the importance of Downtown L.A. as a business center of preeminent importance.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Through his long and distinguished career, Nick Shammas addressed the important social and economic problems of the city of Los Angeles. In 1960, he was a leader in the campaign to elect John F. Kennedy as President of the United States and was a member of the Democratic Party Finance Committee. He was a well-respected leader in the Lebanese-American community and an early sponsor of the Mexican American Political Association. Mr. Shammas was also a longtime leader of the Rotary club, first in Studio City and later in the Southwest rotary Club located near USC.