Rita Case, president and CEO of Rick Case Automotive Group, was named the recipient of the 55th Annual TIME Dealer of the Year Award.

Case, who heads the nation’s largest female-owned and operated dealer group, is the fifth woman selected for one of the industry’s highest dealer honors. The award, presented in partnership with Ally and the National Automobile Dealers Association, recognizes the nation’s most successful dealers who demonstrate a longstanding commitment to community service.

Case received the award from TIME CEO Jessica Sibley and Ally Financial interim CEO Doug Timmerman during the NADA Show in Las Vegas.

“I’m proud to be proof to the next generation that the auto industry is a great business that provides support to the community,” Case said in accepting the honor. “It’s so much fun, and I’m hoping all the dealers in the room will pass their dealerships on to the next generation so we can continue to prove that the American dream is alive and well.”

Timmerman said Case “epitomizes the qualities the TIME Dealer of the Year Award was designed to recognize — a relentless determination to make this incredible industry even better and to support causes that strengthen her community.

“She’s paved the way for women in the dealership business and found innovative ways to sell cars while also working to provide those in need everything from housing and scholarships to healthcare and education.”

Case grew up working in her parents’ auto repair shop, which evolved into the first U.S. Honda dealership. After becoming the dealership’s manager, she met her future husband Rick Case through a Honda 20 Group meeting.

Together, they opened the nation’s first Acura and Hyundai dealerships and built an award-winning company that now operates 12 dealerships in South Florida and Atlanta. The dealerships are among the top volume operations in the nation and generate some $2 billion in annual sales.

Rick Case passed away in 2020.

Under the Cases’ leadership, Rick Case Automotive has created and led fundraising initiatives that raised more than $100 million and provided assistance for numerous charitable and nonprofit organizations in South Florida, including Boys and Girls Club, Cleveland Clinic, the American Heart Association, Habitat for Humanity, Broward County Public Schools and many more.

“Every year for 45 years, I’ve come to NADA and I’ve admired the TIME Dealer finalists’ portraits that were displayed in the convention lobby,” Rita Case said. “To see my picture there this year was a thrill.

“I am so proud to be an automobile dealer. Cars provide the freedom of mobility to my community and all of us.”

Foundation Auto Colorado donates vehicles for families in need

Foundation Chevrolet, Cadillac and Kia of Colorado partnered with the Willie B Foundation’s Cars for Christmas initiative, which refurbishes cars and gives them to people in need.

Foundation Auto Colorado donated seven vehicles during the recent holiday season, which were reconditioned by the Willie B Foundation, which gifted 35 vehicles in all to area families.

“Initiatives like the Willie B Foundation truly change lives,” Foundation Chevrolet/Cadillac of Colorado general manager Chad Raskin said. “Our entire team was honored to be there to see the impact our donations had on the amazing families we were able to help.”

The recipients are chosen based on their specific needs and circumstances, with a focus on empowering them to overcome transportation barriers.

“Nothing has such an immediate impact on someone’s life, family and pursuit of happiness like mobility, so often taken for granted,” said Willie B, founder of the Willie B Foundation and co-host of Motor Trend TV’s Two Guys Garage. “Cars for Christmas provides families who are struggling an enormous weapon for their fight.

“It’s an honor to work with Foundation Auto this year for CFC, and I hope this leads to many years of this great cause and partnership.”

Salinas brothers expand into Kansas with acquisition

Blake and Austin Salinas, owners of Friendly Ford in Crosby, Texas, have expanded their operations across the state line.

The Salinas brothers have acquired Zeller Ford in Arkansas City, Kan., from The G1 Group, according to Performance Brokerage Services, which advised on the transaction.

Blake Salinas is a Marine Corps veteran who supports fellow veterans by raising money for members of the armed forces who have been injured.

Zeller Ford will be renamed Friendly Ford of Arkansas City.