1977 Time award winners line up on stage at the convention in New Orleans.
BY PETER CRAIG
How the dealer award became
a really big deal.
If the Saturday Evening Post hadn’t folded in 1969, there may never have been a Time Dealer of the Year award. That’s because the Post had been sponsoring the quality dealer award since 1960. Upon that magazine’s demise, Time stepped in to do the honors.
1970 The first Time award winner: Ford dealer O. Willard Noller of Topeka, Kan. (right) with Time’s George W. McClellan.
In the Time award’s first year—1970—there were 50 “winners” (now called nominees), twice the 27 maximum that the Post had named in any given year. (The next year, the Time figure would jump to 71.)
Out of the 50, a winner among winners—“Dealer of the Year” O. Willard Noller of Topeka, Kan.—was named; there were 10 runners-up. All honorees were chosen by a committee of University of Michigan Business School faculty members based on the qualities of being a good dealer as well as a good citizen. A similar selection process is in place today.
By 1972, Time was referring to the winners as “representatives of the thousands of quality dealers across the country” and the Dealer of the Year had become the “National Representative” (before reverting to its original name in 1982). Each year, one dealer has received the top honor—except in 1977 and 1998, when two dealers were named.
1984 In the entrance hall to the 1984 NADA Convention, nominees’ faces appear on Time cover mock-ups.
The first female Dealer of the Year was Sheilah Garcia of Albuquerque, N.M., in 1992. In addition, five NADA chairmen or presidents have received the Time top dealer honor, either before or after their terms. ❖
For more on the award, go to nada.org/time.