The nomination of Gregg Smith, president and owner of Gregg Smith Ford Lincoln Inc. in Clinton, for the 2016 TIME Dealer of the Year award was announced tlast week by TIME.
Smith is one of a select group of 50 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 99th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention & Exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 1, 2016. The announcement of this year’s nominees was made by Meredith Long, publisher, TIME, and Tim Russi, president of Auto Finance for Ally Financial.
“The TIME Dealer of the Year award nominees are business leaders and pillars of their communities, who have each given generously to support important charitable causes,” said Russi. “Ally is proud to honor these dealers and to recognize their commitment to making a difference.”
In its fifth year as exclusive sponsor, Ally will recognize dealer nominees and their community efforts by contributing $1,000 to each nominee’s 501(c)3 charity of choice. Nominees will also be recognized on AllyDealerHeroes.com, which highlights the philanthropic contributions and achievements of TIME Dealer of the Year nominees.
The TIME Dealer of the Year award is one of the automobile industry’s most prestigious and highly coveted honors. Recipients are among the nation’s most successful auto dealers who also demonstrate a long-standing commitment to community service. Smith, 59, was chosen to represent the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association in the national competition – one of only 50 auto dealers from 16,000 nationwide – nominated for the 47th annual award.
The award is sponsored by TIME in association with Ally Financial, and in cooperation with NADA. A panel of faculty members from the Tauber Institute for Global Operations at the University of Michigan will select one finalist from each of the four NADA regions and one national Dealer of the Year.
“The most rewarding part of my job is dealing with our customers and making sure they are completely satisfied with their purchase and the service they receive from our dealership,” Smith said.
A 1974 graduate of Clinton High School in Clinton, Smith spent one year at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg before embarking on his automotive career. His first job in the business was at age 13, working as a porter at the local Chevrolet dealership.
“In my junior year in high school I began selling cars at the Ford-Lincoln store in town,” he said. “I remember thinking how some day I was going to own the dealership. My dream came true 20 years later.”
Smith acquired the franchise after the dealership had been closed for 18 months in 1992. Prior to that, he owned and operated a used car lot, Gregg Smith Motors, which he opened one year after finishing high school. Today, he runs Gregg Smith Ford Lincoln with his son, Preston, who is general manager, and Wilder RV, a recreation vehicle store next door to the dealership, which was purchased by them in 2008.
A member of Elks Lodge 1034 in Clinton, as well as Shriners International, the Royal Order of Jesters, Knights of Columbus and the Clinton Sunrise Optimist Club, Smith is very involved in civic and community activities. He was elected to the Clinton City Council for six years and has served on the boards of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce and Hawthorn Bank. He is currently vice chairman of the Golden Valley Memorial Hospital Foundation board.
Smith was appointed to the Missouri State Highways and Transportation Commission by Gov. Jay Nixon in 2013, an important milestone in his career.
“Our transportation system impacts job creation, economic growth and the ability to get products made in Missouri to customers all around the world,” he said. “It is very rewarding to serve our state in this capacity.”
Smith was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Doug Smith, president and CEO of the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Lisa, have two children and two grandchildren.