Thomas Friedkin, founder of what is now Houston's largest private company, has died.
Friedkin established Gulf States Toyota, an independent vehicle distributor, in Houston in 1969. He died March 14 at 81, but further details have not been made public.
Gulf States Toyota supplies hundreds of thousands of vehicles to dealerships in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma. The spokeswoman said dealers were informed of Friedkin's death this week.
Friedkin helped introduce the Toyota to drivers in the region at a time when the Japanese automaker wasn't nearly as popular in the U.S. The manufacturer's mid-century Corolla model was boxy and colorful, unlike today's sleek models in muted shades.