Daniel Wilson is one of a select group of 49 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 107th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 3, 2024.
The TIME Dealer of the Year award is one of the automobile industry’s most prestigious and highly coveted honors. The award recognizes the nation’s most successful auto dealers who also demonstrate a long-standing commitment to community service. Wilson was chosen to represent the Automobile Dealers Association of North Dakota in the national competition – one of only 49 auto dealers nominated for the 55th annual award from more than 16,000 nationwide.
“The success of our company fuels our philanthropic efforts, allowing us to have a positive effect on the lives of children and families, both locally and globally,” nominee Wilson said. “Our team’s steadfast commitment to making a difference in the community and beyond is personally rewarding to me.”
Wilson, a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, earned a B.S. in accounting in 1982. He began his career as a CPA in an accounting firm in Fargo when Timothy Corwin, a third-generation auto dealer, approached him about joining his auto group as a partner and CFO.
“Corwin was our client, but I had never worked on his business, or any automotive dealership,” he said. “I knew Tim personally, and after turning him down twice, I finally came to my senses and accepted the position in May of 1995.”
Wilson was named general manager of Corwin’s Chrysler Dodge dealership in Fargo and spent time working with each department to understand job functions and how they related to the bottom line.
“Getting into the automotive industry in my mid 30s required that I had to work harder than everyone else since they were way ahead of me in knowing the business,” he said.
After two years, Corwin moved to Arizona and Wilson oversaw the three-dealership group, working with individual general managers and taking on the more traditional role of CFO. Corwin’s two sons, Drew and Tanner got involved with the business and eventually came in as partners.
Currently, Wilson and Corwin’s two sons handle all day-to-day operations of Corwin Automotive Group, which now boasts 17 rooftops in eight states. Wilson’s son Brant is the general manager of Corwin Toyota Fargo.
“Even though I had not learned the business from the ground up like most dealers, I was able to bring my experiences from several different industries and mold them into the automotive framework to make us a more profitable group,” he said.
Wilson also used his background as an accountant and his experience with different industries to help guide the Automobile Dealers of North Dakota, where he has served as board member, chair elect, and chair. He was the NADA North Dakota board member from 2017 to 2022.
“Representing North Dakota on a national level through NADA was one of the highlights of my career,” he said. “I was introduced to some of the best dealers from all over the nation, and I was able to gather intelligence and ideas to bring back to our state association and its members.”
While individual dealerships in the Corwin Automotive Group give back to a wide range of local organizations, one highlight is the United Way of Cass-Clay School Supply Drive, for which employees volunteer to fill backpacks with essentials and deliver them to children in need at the beginning of the school year.
Employees also get involved with the Cares for Kids Radiothon benefiting Sanford Children’s Hospital in Fargo. Corwin Automotive Group a presenting sponsor of the event, and employees rally together to make cold calls to raise funds for this local children’s hospital.
For Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Corwin Automotive Group partners with BIG 98.7 to raise awareness by donating $10 for every bra brought into one of the dealerships. The bras are donated to the local Goodwill and the funds raised go to Essentia Health Fargo Foundation.
Another organization that the auto group supports in a big way is the Great Plains Food Bank and its program to fight childhood hunger by providing backpacks full of food for children to take home on weekends.
“We immediately got behind this initiative and have supported them annually since 2013,” Wilson said. “All in all, we have given the Great Plains Food Bank in excess of $1.2 million for this program.”
A cause that is close to Wilson’s heart is Wellspring for the World, an organization that works to provide clean drinking water for people around the globe. He was introduced to the nonprofit by his mentor at the CPA firm and when he passed away in 2011, Wilson took his spot on the board.
“I am still involved with the organization, and I am proud of the progress we have made,” he said. “During our fundraising campaign, we were able to complete 1,000 wells that have allowed 318,800 children and their families in 10 countries to have access to clean water.”
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 $5,000 for their favorite charities and the winner will receive $10,000 to give to charity, donated by Ally.
In its 13th 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 be recognized on AllyDealerHeroes.com, which highlights the philanthropic contributions and achievements of TIME Dealer of the Year nominees.
“At TIME, we are proud to uphold the decades-long tradition of honoring automotive dealers who make a positive impact and show dedication to their communities through our TIME Dealer of the Year award,” said TIME CEO Jessica Sibley. “We are excited to keep this tradition of applauding these community contributions together with our partners at Ally.”
Doug Timmerman, president of dealer financial services, Ally, said, “Auto dealers nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to not only the industry but to their respective communities through volunteerism, sponsorships, and supporting charitable causes, no matter the market climate. Whether their clients are purchasing a first car or upgrading for a growing family, these selected dealers have successfully extended their relationships beyond the showroom and have been steadfast in driving their communities forward.”
Wilson was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Matthew Larsgaard, president and CEO of the Automobile Dealers Association of North Dakota. He and his wife Paula have two children.