Texas Dealer’s Journey Went From ‘Literally Nothing’ to Association’s Highest Honor
Las Vegas (June 24, 2022) – Tommy Gregory, owner of Abilene Used Car Sales in Abilene, Texas, was named the 2022 National Quality Dealer of the Year by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association to close NIADA’s 76th annual Convention and Expo
In a ceremony Thursday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Gregory was chosen from the 12 State Quality Dealer finalists for highest honor awarded among NIADA’s dealer members.
Gregory is the eighth National Quality Dealer from Texas, the most of any state.
The National Quality Dealer is chosen by a selection committee of used vehicle industry experts based on a variety of factors, including contributions to the automotive industry and the association, outstanding business operations and community involvement and service.
In accepting the award, Gregory credited his wife of 43 years, Wanda, with helping him build his business from “literally nothing” to success.
“Somehow, I got the right one,” he said. “I would not be here today without her standing with me every inch of the way through this whole endeavor – the hills and valleys. peaks and low, broke and rich… It’s been awesome.
“I did pretty good, huh?”
Gregory said his dealership was created “by accident.” Having grown up working for his father’s auto repair business, that’s what he was planning to do. But that plan changed when the West Texas oil industry hit hard times in the 1980s.
“We were doing a lot of work for oil companies on their trucks and cars, and we started losing a lot of business,” he recalled. “We ended up working with some used car dealerships and working on their cars. And it didn’t take me long to see those guys were making a lot more money than I was.
“So we started buying and selling a few cars.”
In 1991, Gregory emptied his savings account – all $2,200 of it – to partner with his father, R.D. Gregory, in opening Abilene Used Car Sales. They soon added financing and became a Buy Here-Pay Here operation.
In 2003, Gregory bought out his father’s half of the dealership, which has grown to 24 employees and more than 1,000 sales per year, as well as an extensive service department for repairs and reconditioning.
Gregory is heavily involved with Texas IADA, serving as a leader in legislative advocacy and a top contributor to the association’s political action committee. TIADA executive director Jeff Martin praised his “tireless efforts to help get his fellow dealers in Abilene educated and involved.”
He is also a strong supporter of charitable causes and community involvement, creating programs offering backpacks and coats for schoolchildren, giving away vehicles to families in need and contributing time and money to a local Boys Ranch, among many others.
Gregory said hearing his accomplishments recited and then his name called as National Quality dealer was “a surreal moment.”
“You start thinking back to how it all started and all the experiences you lived through,” he said. “I’m proud of the fact we were able to build this up to a level where we can offer our customers a good product and we’re able to keep them on the road.
“The main thing we focus on is helping our customers.”