vAuto Founder Becomes 33rd Industry Leader Selected to Highest Non-Dealer Award
Las Vegas (June 21, 2022) – Dale Pollak, founder of vAuto, Cox Automotive executive vice president and an innovator in dealership inventory management, has been selected as the newest member of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association’s prestigious Ring of Honor.
Pollak became the 33rd auto industry leader to be inducted into the Ring of Honor, NIADA’s highest award for non-dealers, during Tuesday’s Leadership Awards ceremony, part of the 76th annual NIADA Convention and Expo at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
NIADA’s Ring of Honor recognizes allied industry leaders who have contributed to the professionalism and growth of the automobile industry through outstanding performance and leadership.
“Dale is a pioneer of management, metrics and technology in the auto retail industry who changed the way dealers look at inventory,” NIADA CEO Robert Voltmann said. “He’s helped countless dealers over the years with his investment-minded approach to used vehicle management.
“Dale’s monumental impact on our industry makes him a worthy addition to NIADA’s Ring of Honor.”
The son of an auto dealer, Pollak grew up in the industry, sold his first car at age 16 and ran the used car operation for a Cadillac/GMC dealership he co-owned with his father, Len, in Elmhurst, Ill.
While running that dealership with his father, Pollak was also losing his eyesight as a result of a genetic retinal disease. He worried that he wouldn’t be able to judge cars if he couldn’t see them, but his father assured him he didn’t need to.
“His exact words,” Pollak later recalled, “were, ‘It’s about the money, honey.’ ”
That got him thinking of vehicles as investments, which, with the help of then-newly developed technology, launched a career in bringing data – and new ways to use it – to car dealers.
Pollak, who graduated at the top of his class from DePaul University’s law school, founded vAuto in 2005 to bring visibility to pricing and values in a way that had never before existed. The company was acquired by Autotrader in 2010 and soon after, both companies were incorporated into Cox Automotive.
Pollak is a best-selling author with six books to his credit. He’s also a four-time winner of the American Jurisprudence Award, the 2010 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year and a member of the Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.
In 2014, he was named as Poling Chair at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business and currently serves as a transportation advisor to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Even so, Pollak said the Ring of Honor is something special.
First, he said in accepting the award, it’s a symbol of the “symbiotic relationship” between franchise dealers and independents, whom he called “the foundation of this industry.”
“It serves as affirmation that we’re all in this together,” he said, “and that the fortune and the future of independent and franchise dealers are inextricably tied.”
But, he added, there’s a more personal reason for the Ring of Honor’s importance – and it goes back to Len Pollak, “a true-blue car guy.”
“It addresses a longstanding insecurity,” Dale Pollak told the dealers in attendance. “You see, I was never a car guy like my dad, or like many of you. I was the son of a successful car dealer who cast a long shadow. Sure, I had a love for the business and a knack for the business, but I wasn’t a ‘car guy’ in the classic sense.
“So here I am today receiving the Ring of Honor award. I think this is the highest recognition I ever possibly could have hoped for in the industry. It signifies that I’ve been accepted as a true car guy by the real car guys and gals of our industry. And for that reason, I cherish this moment and cherish this award forever.”