January 26, 2015 — It’s no secret that the automotive retail industry gets pummeled in the press. Dealers often are journalists’ favorite punching bags. It’s one of the reasons I appreciate and like the Time Magazine’s Dealer of the Year award, which is handed out each year at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention. The program, sponsored by Ally Financial, highlights 55 nominees who are dealers that make a big difference in their communities.
This year’s winner is Andy Crews, the 44 year old president and CEO of the AutoFair Automotive group in New Hampshire. Crews oversees seven dealerships with more than 600 employees. A former Marine (actually, that’s not true — once a Marine, always a Marine), he participated in Operation Desert Storm. Crews began his career as a General Motors technician. Working for various dealers, he was quickly promoted through the ranks. The AutoFair group participates in numerous charities and is heavily involved in the New Hampshire community helping to feed hundreds of families at Thanksgiving; supporting educational programs and initiatives that help military personnel find jobs.
Congratulations, Andy, on a well-deserved award.
The other three finalists this year were:
• Greg Goodwin, 63, CEO of Kuni Automotive in Vancouver, Wash.
• Michael Shannon, 62, president of Holiday Automotive in Fond du Lac, Wis.
• Greg York, 51, president of Vann York Auto Group in High Point, N.C.
Kudos also to Ally Financial, who has sponsored the award the last four years. Ally, to me, strives to be a good corporate citizen supporting the industry by recognizing not only the Time Dealer of the year, but also sponsoring some of the industry’ trade magazines’ programs, such as the Ward’s Dealer 500.
The Banks Report doesn’t have advertisers or sponsors, so that’s not my game here. Honestly, I’ve long admired Ally’s participation in the industry, and thought it goes beyond the typical advertising play.
As an exclusive sponsor of the TIME Dealer of the Year program the last four years, Ally has donated more than $250,000 to various charities. It provides grants to eligible 501c3 charitable organizations selected by the nominees, finalists and winner. This year, Ally is contributing $10,000 to the winner’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of choice, as well as $5,000 to charities selected by each of the three regional finalists. Ally also donated $1,000 to charities selected by each of the 55 dealer nominees.