Reynolds and Reynolds owner Bob Brockman died at 81

Former CEO was fighting tax evasion case when he died.

Robert Brockman, the Texas entrepreneur who bought Dayton-area auto dealers software company Reynolds & Reynolds 16 years ago, died Friday at age 81.

Facing historic federal tax charges, Brockman stepped down as chief executive of Kettering-based Reynolds & Reynolds in November 2020. Former Reynolds President and Chief Operating Officer Tommy Barras — who had worked with Brockman for some 45 years — assumed that role.

Brockman, a resident of Texas and Colorado, had a history of being an aggressive, successful businessman who made bold moves.

“Brockman, as an extremely talented and innovative businessman, built a billion-dollar computer systems and software company and ran it for decades,” federal Judge George Hanks Jr. wrote in May, in an order ruling that Brockman was competent to participate in his trial on tax evasion charges.

In 2006, the then-65-year-old entrepreneur ran Universal Computer Systems, a Houston company he started in his living room more than three decades before, when he took over what was then a much larger competitor, Dayton-based Reynolds and Reynolds Co., in a $2.8 billion deal.

But he was indicted in 2020 in what was called the largest tax evasion case against an individual in the United States.

In their October 2020 indictment, prosecutors said a Brockman subsidiary, Dealer Computer Services Inc., borrowed $2.4 billion to finance the merger of Universal Computer Systems and Reynolds, paving the way to his ownership of the local company.

Prosecutors presented a portrait of Brockman of operating a secret web of Caribbean business entities to conceal $2 billion in investment income, evading taxes on the income.

“The allegations made by the Department of Justice focus on activities Robert Brockman engaged in outside of his professional responsibilities with Reynolds & Reynolds,” a spokesperson for Reynolds and Reynolds said in 2020. “The company is not alleged to have engaged in any wrongdoing, and we are confident in the integrity and strength of our business.”

On Monday, the company released a statement saying in part: “Bob played an important role for many years, growing the company to be one of the world’s top dealer services providers it is today. We are grateful for his leadership and the considerable time and energy he dedicated to building Reynolds & Reynolds over the years. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time.”

The company did not respond to questions about its current headcount at its Miami Valley Research Park campus or how its ownership structure might change in the wake of Brockman’s death.

Court filings in the case against Brockman indicate that Reynolds & Reynolds is owned by a trust.

In 2020, Bloomberg reported that Swiss prosecutors froze more than $1 billion in bank accounts belonging to Brockman.

More recently, prosecutors and defense attorneys argued about whether Brockman was competent to participate in his defense. A federal judge in Texas ruled him competent to stand trial in May, and a trial was scheduled for early 2023.

Questions about the case were sent to the Department of Justice Monday.

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