The nomination of Chris H. Wilson, owner and dealer at Wilson Motor Company, a Ford, Lincoln and Nissan dealership in Logan, Utah, for the 2022 TIME Dealer of the Year award was announced today by TIME.
Wilson is one of a select group of 47 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 105th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show in Las Vegas on March 11, 2022. The announcement of this year’s annual award was made by Viktoria Degtar, Global Chief Revenue Officer, TIME, and Doug Timmerman, president of Dealer Financial Services, Ally Financial.
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. Wilson was chosen to represent the New Car Dealers of Utah in the national competition – one of only 47 auto dealers nominated for the 53rd annual award from more than 16,000 nationwide.
“The most rewarding aspect of my automotive career is the opportunity to carry on the family legacy started by my grandfather in 1943,” nominee Wilson said. “Family, employee and customer-centric values are what established Wilson Motor and those traditions will lead to the successful future of our fifth-generation family ownership.”
Wilson earned a B.S. in business administration from Utah State University in Logan in 1983. While many of his college friends took jobs at major corporations on the East Coast, Wilson opted to stay in Logan and establish his career at the car dealership founded by his grandfather, Floyd Wilson, in 1943.
“From a very young age, I pictured myself carrying on the family legacy as the third generation,” he said. “I have always had a deep love for our local community and I considered it a privilege that I was able to stay in Logan, raising my family and contributing to the community.”
Wilson started at the dealership at age 12, pulling weeds, sweeping the lot and washing cars. He was a detailer during high school and while in college, took on management roles in parts, service and the used-car department. After college, he dove into sales and was new-car manager by 1984.
“My dad, who took over the business in 1971, felt it was important that I had experience in all the departments so I understood how each functioned and contributed to the overall success of the dealership,” he said. “This knowledge turned out to be very valuable when I became the executive manager in 1988, a position I held until I took over full ownership of Wilson Motor in 2009.” Today, his son Nate, daughter Paige Johnson and grandson Cooper have all joined the family enterprise.
Wilson steered his business through the Great Recession, which hit right before he assumed ownership, by listening to customers and adjusting to circumstances as they arose. “We had to be willing to change and find solutions not only by focusing on what worked in the past, but on present realities and future opportunities,” he said. “This attitude positioned us well to respond to the pandemic, and continues to prepare us to confidently move forward in an era of uncertainty.”
After his father passed away in 2016, Wilson reflected on the family’s legacy and decided he wanted to do more to serve the public. To that end, he ran for Utah State Senate in 2020 and was able to triumph over a 40-year incumbent in the primary before defeating his challenger.
“My career in the automotive industry was the perfect training for service in the Senate,” he said. “Our business model of listening, gathering information, thinking, acting and monitoring outcomes, as well as our focus on relationships, not deals, applies well to public service.”
Wilson’s work in the Senate will allow him to make a greater impact on infrastructure and planning, education, mental health and human services. “Utah is the fastest growing state in the nation and it is of utmost importance to unify public and government entities, businesses, education and private citizens to create a shared vision of smart, sustainable growth,” he said.
Wilson is also a voice for his fellow car dealers and has been a board member of the New Car Dealers of Utah since 2014, serving as the group’s president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. “While I was president in 2019, we worked countless hours to defeat proposed sales tax legislation that would have had a significant negative impact on our industry,” he said.
In the area of community service, Wilson supports local food pantries by providing Thanksgiving turkeys, purchasing refrigerator/freezer units and helping to establish school-based food pantries. In addition, he donated Pumper Cars to every elementary school in the Cache County and Logan City school districts.
“These cars enable children with disabilities to participate more fully in recess and physical education classes, as well as help them safely navigate hallways,” he said. “Having a sister with special needs, there’s a tender place in my heart for organizations that help those with disabilities.”
He also supports Common Ground Outdoor Adventures (maintains and repairs vehicles for the group that enables individuals with disabilities to engage in outdoor activities); Cache Employment & Training Center (services for people with disabilities); Little Lambs Foundation for Kids (provides comfort care kits and necessities to children in need), as well as local high school athletic programs, charity events and fundraisers.
Wilson has served on the boards of the Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce, Pioneer Park Coalition and Envision Utah, to name a few.
“I am committed to doing everything I can to secure the best possible future for my children, grandchildren and our community,” he said.
Dealers are nominated by the executives of state and metro dealer associations around the country. 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. Three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 for their favorite charities and the winner will receive an additional $10,000 to give to charity, donated by Ally.
In its eleventh year as exclusive sponsor, Ally also 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.
“In cities and towns across the country, auto dealers make a big economic impact—going the extra mile to strengthen their communities,” said Doug Timmerman, president of dealer financial services, Ally. “It’s an incredible achievement to be nominated for TIME Dealer of the Year. The program not only recognizes leadership in business and customer service, but also a commitment to giving back and doing it right.”
Wilson was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Craig Bickmore, executive director of the New Car Dealers of Utah. He and his wife, Kiersten, have 10 children.