The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association’s says it awarded its newest Ring of Honor member because of his “commitment to independent dealers,” which “forged a relationship that has moved the used vehicle industry forward.”
That newest Ring of Honor member is AutoZone director of strategic accounts and program development Kirk Brown, who is the 31st auto industry leader to be inducted into what NIADA says is its “highest award for non-dealers.”
Brown was honored on Wednesday during National Leadership Awards Banquet, part of the 73rd annual NIADA Convention and Expo at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas.
At the event, NIADA also honored recipients of NIADA scholarships and winners of the Crystal Eagle award for their efforts at increasing association membership.
But Brown was the man of the hour by becoming a member of the NIADA Ring of Honor, which the association says recognizes allied industry leaders “who have contributed to the professionalism and growth of the automobile industry through outstanding performance and leadership.”
“Whenever he speaks about his position or his company, he is quick to move toward speaking about the partnership with NIADA that has grown over the years and how that relationship has been instrumental in growing our segment of the business through collaborative efforts aimed at providing greater value to dealers,” NIADA chief executive officer Steve Jordan said in a news release.
“That relationship became a catalyst and an accelerator for implementing ideas that create local partnerships well beyond just another on-demand parts provider,” Jordan said.
NIADA says that Brown has become a leader on the commercial side of the auto retail business during his 35 years in the industry. Following time working with NAPA and CarQuest, he has been with AutoZone for the last 16 years.
He has managed national sales teams and led commercial operations during that time. Brown currently leads AutoZone’s national account team. The team has had a strong focus on buy-here, pay-here and the new and used-car segments.
AutoZone, in partnership with sister company, ALLDATA, has helped create “competitive differentiators,” according to NIADA, that ensure independent dealers have the technology to better repair vehicles and keep customer loyalty.
The partnership between AutoZone/ALLDATA and NIADA has created a strong advantage allowing the partners to service dealers’ parts needs and to provide repair information, Brown said. that ensures each dealer keeps their customers satisfied by providing quality used vehicle repair or recon.
”When we hitched our wagon to NIADA 10 years ago, we were still learning about this segment of the business. We’ve come a long way … I’m really excited to see how the coming years bring a more collaborative effort,” Brown said.
Regarding the NIADA scholarships and Crystal Eagle award winners, Chad Palmer of Clarkston, Mich. won the NIADA and Cox Automotive Scholarship presented by Manheim. That is a $10,000 scholarship for a student at Northwood University. Palmer is a junior majoring in automotive marketing and management at Northwood, and he says he is always thinking and doing something auto-related. That includes activities such as attending Cars and Coffee on weekend mornings and helping friends with their automotive projects.
He enrolled at Northwood in the fall of 2016, and since then he has spent his summers at dealerships. That includes work and an internship with Bowman Chevrolet in his hometown of Clarkston. For the current summer, he is an intern for Penske Automotive Group’s 10-week rotation program in the Atlanta market.
He is planning a May 2020 graduation, and at that time, he would like to enroll in Penske’s manager program.
Also awarded scholarships from the NIADA Foundation were students from each of the association’s four regions. They are Eric Yang of Ellicott City, Md. (Region I); Ian Hall of Nashville, Tenn. (Region II); Taylor Akin of Purcell, Okla. (Region III); and Samuel Griffith of Lodi, Calif. (Region IV).
Twelve NIADA members also won the Crystal Eagle award for their strong work in generating new NIADA members.
Honorees from the Carolinas IADA included:
—Kim Bradshaw of 1st Nations Auto Sales
—Darryl Jackson of Crown Auto Sales & Finance
—Steve Matthews of Matthews Motors
—Kevin Pendergrass of Carolina Auto Sales of Myrtle Beach
—Steve Wetmore of McAdenville Motors
—Jerry Padrick of M&M Auto Sales
—Michael Threadgill of Van’s Auto Sales
—Marshall Perry of Marshall’s Used Cars
—Martha Brown of Dris/Vista Holdings Group
—Sammy Bernardo of ProGuard Warranty
The honoree from the Georgia IADA was Dennis Pope of People’s Financial, and the honoree from Texas IADA was Jose Engler of Irving Motors Corp.