One standout automobile dealer will join elite company Thursday, being named the latest National Quality Dealer award winner.
The National Quality Dealer Award was created in 1976 to recognize the remarkable accomplishments of NIADA’s independent dealers. For more than 45 years, National Quality Dealer Award recipients have exemplified their commitment to quality and excellence in the industry as well as outstanding customer service, and giving back to their community to make it a better place for everyone.
“There’s only 45 other dealers in the country, it’s such a small elite company for the prestigious award winner,” said NIADA President and 2011 NQD award winner Scott Allen. “I still to this day don’t know how it happened, except that I’ve always had a love for the industry and what I do. It’s been a blessing for me for the last 33 years to be involved in the independent automobile space.”
NIADA will honor the 2023 NQD award recipient at 4 p.m., Thursday, June 22, during the closing ceremony at the NIADA Accelerate 2023 Convention and Expo in the Lafite Ballroom.
Here are the 14 finalists nominated for this year’s honor:
AutoProfessional 2, Inc.
The 2022 Alabama Automobile Dealer of the Year’s love of the automobile industry blossomed as a child, visiting dealerships with his father.
After starting his career in sales for the 2003 NQD winner Anthony Underwood, Braxton opened his own dealership in 2007, Autoprofessional Car Sales, with friend Wayne Williams. From their first lot, he grew the business, eventually moving to a larger facility, selling more than 600 vehicles per year with gross sales revenue topping $7 million.
“I am a firm believer that if you take care of the people, the people will take care of you,” Braxton said. “We focus on helping people with challenged credit get dependable transportation. There are a lot of people that just need a way to work or the grocery store. That’s what we aim for.”
That commitment to his customers has garnered admiration and praise from fellow dealers.
“I am consistently impressed with the level of ethics he upholds, not only to his customers but to the industry as a whole,” said Adam York, owner of York Automotive Group in Birmingham, Ala. “He treats each customer with the utmost respect and strives to make the buying experience a pleasant one. Mr. Braxton also ensures that the service doesn’t stop at the sale. He offers his customers one of the best extended warranties to ensure he can stand behind the vehicles he sells.”
He’s helped numerous charities in Alabama, including Justpeopleproject to aid the homeless.
Double H Auto Exchange
The Arizona dealer learned early in life about taking care of others and giving, with his parents as an example. The family adopted three children and set Halsted on the path to becoming a foster parent.
Halsted fell in love with the automobile industry while working for his aunt’s transport company after high school. He opened Double H Auto Exchange in 2014. From humble beginnings, he grew the dealership to be the dealership his community needed. The dealership today averages $1.2 million in retail sales.
Many of his customers are lifelong customers, as are their families. Halsted treats his customers with the same respect that he would treat his own family.
“Finding customers is hard enough. Keeping them for life and gaining their respect and trust, so any time they hear anyone looking for a car they are beyond convincing of the difference they experienced, and why they should also experience it. Double H’s relationship with their customers is just that, a relationship, not a transaction,” Halsted said.
Halsted has been on the AIADA Board of Directors since 2014. He has been President since 2020. He is currently serving as the Region IV VP for the NIADA Board of Directors. He was elected to this position because of his ability to rally our nation’s dealers around a common cause, the betterment of the NIADA and the industry.
He helps numerous charities with charity car shows, donations raffles and attending events.
“I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I have witnessed firsthand that Jared wants nothing more than the best for his country, state, community and fellow dealers and proves it daily by putting other people first, not by his words but more importantly by his continued actions,” said Thomas Taylor, a dealer in Fountain Hills, Ariz.
Carolina Auto Sales
While working at his father’s service station, a customer who chose not to repair his car asked Pendergrass if he would give him $50 and mark his tab clear for his car. He nervously agreed and ended up making a $542 profit on the car.
“After that I was hooked, and in just a few short months I was making more buying and selling cars on the side of the station than my father was making in the whole operation,” Pendergrass said.
After a scare from the head DMV inspector, he began his automotive career officially by opening Kevco Auto Sales in West Virginia. He later moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and began working at Carolina Auto Sales, which he eventually bought. He sold his condo to fund receivables when credit was maxed out and lived in the back office.
He has built the dealership to $2.5 million in annual sales and has become the “go-to” dealership for the Hispanic community in the area.
“My philosophy as a dealer is in line with my attitude in life. Be fair in your practices toward your customers and employees, and it will return to you many times over. To date, I can honestly say that is exactly what we have experienced at Carolina Auto Sales. We strive to provide good quality, reliable vehicles to our customers, and we stand behind what we sell. In turn, most of our customers refer their family and friends to us. Over time, our customers have become like family to us,” Pendergrass said.
The CIADA Board member and past president holds large Halloween and Christmas events for the community and offers free towing during flooding due to hurricanes.
“Kevin and his team are much more than a dealership. They are excellent mentors and stewards of the auto industry,” said Joseph Mok of G Motorcars in Arlington Heights, Ill.
JFR & Associates
Reitz grew up in the auto industry as the grandson of a dealership owner in Michigan. Looking to forge his own path, he moved to Colorado in 1981 and landed a job in sales at a Denver dealership. He has been in the industry ever since.
Reitz started JFR and Associates with his wife, two brokers and no lot. Today, they operate multiple locations with more than 50 licensed sales people and carry more than 150 vehicles. They average $48.8 million in annual sales.
“Don’t lie, cheat or steal,” is the business philosophy of JFR, which started to provide an opportunity for others to do what they love — sell cars and help people.
The Colorado dealer board member helps many charities and organizations and has served multiple foundations.
“Mr. Reitz and his family not only know the value of their brokers — they know the value of their clients and always show appreciation, and work together to solve any obstacle that may arise during the sales process. And they aren’t just generous in how they financially support the team which works for them, they know the value of their community as well by donating time and financial support to charitable organizations like they legendary golf tournament held each summer on behalf of the Ray of Hope Cancer Foundation,” said John Mudd, broker for JFR and Associates.
Leigh Anne Thompson
Fort Myers Auto Mall
A pharmacist, Thompson’s foray into the auto industry started in 2011 when her husband Brian started Fort Myers Auto Mall.
She initially helped with marketing and research, which led her to start a Facebook group with Dan Reel of Reel’s Auto Sales in Ohio to help dealers across the nation with questions and issues in the industry. She joined the industry full time in 2018 and helped the dealership grow. Today it operates in two different buildings and sold 121 cars last year. It averages $1.45 million in sales.
“It has been my goal to elevate the respect and reputation of used cars dealers. Coming from the most respected profession to the least respected was my impetus,” Thompson said. “We do this by providing a quality product, being transparent and honest. We were the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Dealer Rater Consumer Satisfaction Award Winner. We have hundreds of reviews on numerous sites online, and we work hard to run an honest dealership. We are involved with our FIADA state organization and contribute to its success.”
Thompson supports the local community with time, energy and money.
“Leigh Anne’s dedication to making a difference extends beyond her work, as she generously donates her time and resources to organizations such as the Midwest Food Bank, Meals for Hope, and local schools. Her involvement with the Florida Independent Automobile Dealer Association, BNI and the Boy Scouts of America demonstrate her commitment to improving her community and peers,” said Jason March of March Motors, Inc.
Cherokee Auto Group
Cars have been a passion of Mosley’s since he was 14. He purchased many cars with the help of his morn. He would fix them and resell them.
He started his official car career in 1990 at Cherokee Ford and worked there for 17 years before leaving to start Cherokee Auto Group. He started with 10 cars on the lot. Fifteen years later he now has more than 200 in the current inventory and more in the pipeline getting ready to sell. The dealership averages $4.5 million in sales.
In addition to having a passion for cars, he has a passion for his community. He has been on the building committee and the board of trustees for his local church. For over 10 years, every Thanksgiving morning he and the kids would gather at the church with a group and would pack and deliver meals to the homeless or less fortunate in their community. They would always come home filled with joy and funny stories. In addition to that, he also goes with the church to downtown Atlanta each month to feed the homeless.
“David has been a pillar in our community, he gives his time for non-profits in our area, is devoted to his church and has been on many mission trips out of the country. He is very compassionate about his customers and treats them the way you and I would expect to be treated,” Dewey Martin, Resident of Canton GA and Owner of Dewey’s Home Remolding and Auto Repair.
Vincent Law, Jr.
Law Auto Sales
After graduating college at the University of Michigan in 1983, Law started assisting his dad and brother in Wayne, Mich., at the family business. He soon found a home.
“I enjoyed the challenges, interacting with customers, the cars and pretty much all aspects of the business. I have been there ever since,” Law said.
The business grew from 16 cars to now selling nearly 700 cars per year with annual sales at $5 million. More than 60 percent of the business is from repeat customers or referrals.
“Our business philosophy is to treat customers, employees and business associates with dignity and respect. We believe that this produces loyalty. The evidence of this philisophical success is our overwhelming repeat and referral business, the longevity of our employees and our solid and long-term business relationships,” Law said.
One of the earliest members of the MIADA, he has served in numerous roles, including president. He ‘s worked tirelessly on behalf of dealers, testifying in the state legislature. He’s helped Make-A-Wish, DARE, MADD and underprivileged children through the Wayne 100 Club.
The car business was in Glaser’s blood, with his grandfather and father in the wholesale business.
“By the age of 16, I was finding cars to buy and sell on my own. I simultaneously started my own marketing firm at the age of 18. Throughout college I continued to buy/sell cars while I grew my marketing and nightlife business,” Glaser said.
After graduating Syracuse University in 2009, he owned a marketing firm in Manhattan before joining the business in 2011. In 2015, the brand VantageAuto was born.
“At this time, we had VantageAuto Wholesale which focused on offering unbeatable wholesale prices directly to the public,” Glaser said. “Fast forward to 2018, and we were selling in excess of 3,500 cars annually between our wholesale and retail operations.”
Last year, they sold 1,800 vehicles. They average $22.6 million in retail sales and $28.4 million in wholesale.
Glaser is on the board of United Hatzalah, which is an organization, which ensures emergency medical treatment arrives on scene within 180 seconds of anyone calling throughout the state of Israel. He is a donor for the Kaplan JCC on the Palisades, which offers childhood and senior education programs.
“His knowledge of the industry is extensive. There are few people in this industry that you can actually trust and he is one of them. He has made a name for himself in the industry and has a fantastic reputation,” Noah Penzell of Jack Daniels Motors in Saddle River, N.J.
LiteHouse Auto, Inc.
The lifelong New Yorker traces his entrepreneurial spirit to his parents, who operated a custom countertop and cabinetry business.
While working at a local bank he met Rod Weidner, the owner of LiteHouse Auto, at Bible study. Johnson went to work for Weidner in 2002 and rose to general manger in 2009. After looking to start his own dealership and not being able to land a property, a conversation started with Weidner, who was looking to retire. Johnson bought the dealership in 2013.
The dealership now averages $4.7 million in retail sales and $2.68 million in wholesale.
“We are very particular about the vehicles we sell, and we work hard to make sure they are affordable and reliable for our customers. Our motto (as well as our goal) is: Cleaner Cars, Lower Prices, Better Service. We really believe that we live up to this motto,” Johnson said.
Johnson is the Vice President of the NYIADA and is Region I VP for the NIADA Board of Directors. He also serves on numerous civic boards and groups. He was named the Volunteer of the Year by the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County in 2021. He is the 2023 NYIADA Quality Dealer of the Year.
“Over the course of my working relationship with Dan, I have observed this relentless commitment and dedication in action time and again,” said Danielle Singleton, relationship manager at AFC Mercer. “He sets the standard for providing the best service possible, while always engaging and operating with the highest levels of ethics and accountability.”
Auto Express of Hamilton
In his 17th year in business, Sellers recalls the humble beginnings on “Car Dealers Row” in Hamilton, Ohio.
“I had very little money and even less knowledge, but I had a dream, and I was hungry. There were so many things I didn’t realize you needed or had to have to start a business, and I’m thankful for that ignorance because if I had known I never would have started,” Sellers said.
At the suggestion of his landlord, he pursued the BHPH model, which was the right business model and one he has stuck with as the dealership has grown to a campus with three buildings spanning 20,000 feet. It now averages $13.1 million in retail sales and $1.06 million in wholesale.
He supports Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butler County and many other charities, and has been on the board of the Hamilton Community Foundation for several years.
“Josh’s focus in life is to make others better. When you meet Josh in person, you’ll find a very humble man searching for information, education, and ways to better himself and everyone around him.,” Wendy Rinehart, Executive Director of the OHIADA.
The Marine started in the auto industry in sales 30 years ago and rose through the ranks to leading sales teams and dealerships across Pennsylvania.
In 2013, he launched Platinum Preowned with a pair of employees. Within a year, he acquired a 21,000-square-foot facility and has continued growing. The Platinum Group of four stores has grown to more than 100 full-time employees. The group averages $35 million in retail sales.
He’s modeled his business around the values he learned in the Marines — integrity, willingness and determination.
The dealership and Dorazio works with Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and other charities. They also hold a Memorial Day 5K for Gold Star Familes.
Auto Liquidators, Inc.
Rebuilding and collecting classic cars were Reine’s first love.
He started selling new cars at a franchise dealership his father ran while in school. Later when his father opened his own dealership, he ran the lot.
Reine opened his own dealership in 1991.
Getting started was a slow and challenging process, Reine explained.
“This is where I started in the automotive industry, but it is also where I learned what my life’s passion was. I developed the skills and mindset to be able perform every single duty needed to operate successfully on my own. I learned who I wanted to be and who I did not want to be,” Reine said.
For years he did everything himself from buying vehicles, reconditioning, selling and collecting payments. Starting in 2002, he added locations and eventually brought on the Dallas location in 2011 as the “Mothership.” He currently has locations in Dallas, Tyler and Arlington. They sold 1,411 cars last year. Annually, the dealership averages $25 million in retail sales.
The long-time TIADA Board member is the 2022 Texas Quality Dealer of the Year. The dealership has sponsored Wounded Warrior, Susan G. Komen and Salvation Army among many organizations and helped many individuals battling health issues.
“Greg has always been someone I strive to emulate due to his knowledge, integrity and honesty: he always keeps his word, and if he makes a commitment, he always follows through,” said Blake Ingram, Auto City in Dallas.
East Tennessee Auto Outlet
Cass grew up in his father Charlie’s used car dealership and sold his first car at age 9.
He dedicated himself to learning all he could about cars at a young age and made himself into a trusted source. Starting on a small gravel lot in 1998, he has built a successful business with three locations. He’s been selected as the Best Salesman by the local newspaper for the past 20 years and has sold more than 1,000 vehicles many years in a row. The dealership averages $8.135 million in retail sales and $2.95 million in wholesale.
Cass has been focused on being fair with his customers and other dealers, while selling the best product at the most reasonable price he can and taking care of customers at the time of sale.
The 2022 Tennessee Quality Dealer of the Year has served on numerous boards in the community, including the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation.
“As a former student of mine, I have known Mr. Cass since his teenage years. Scott is the epitome of a Christian gentleman, with amazing work ethic and a tireless energy for civic and community welfare and wellbeing. He has served in many community and civic leadership roles,” said Dr. John Forgety.
Campus Automotive, Inc.
McMurray grew up at his father’s service station and started working in it the day he turned 15. After college, he ran the family business until leasing the property to an oil company in 2010.
He always dreamed of owning his own dealership.
“I used to make my mother drive me around to dealerships to get new car brochures,” McMurray said.
McMurray went out on his own, opening Campus Automotive. Within a couple of years, he moved to Blacksburg and grew the business to include a nine-bay service department and eventually a new body shop. In 2022, he added a Waynesboro, Va., location — Campus Ford.
The 2022 VIADA Dealer of the Year sold 393 vehicles last year and averages $11 million in sales. He’s built the business on the values of honesty, reverence, hope, thrift, humility, charity, sincerity and moderation.
He’s served as the Vice President on the VIADA Board of Directors since 2016, while helping the United Way and other organizations in Virginia.
“Matt is someone who strives to learn more so he can be a successfui business owner and employer. He is and has been a leader in his community and his profession,” said Greg Apgar, General Manger of American Tire Distributors in Roanoke, Va. “He is admired by his employees and other business owners.”