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Headshot of Donnie Buckalew, a white man with grey hair and glasses wearing a dark-blue suit with a gold Chevrolet pin, white button-down shirt, and a red tie with designs.

Donnie Buckalew

Buckalew Chevrolet
Conroe, Texas

“We have been in the car business in Conroe for more than 57 years and have generations of customers. The longevity of our success is rooted in our team, our commitment to the customer and to the community, and our determination to do the right thing, always.”

(New York, NY, October 18, 2022) – The nomination of Don A. Buckalew Jr., dealer at Buckalew Chevrolet in Conroe, Texas, for the 2023 TIME Dealer of the Year award was announced today by TIME.

Buckalew is one of a select group of 48 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 106th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show in Dallas, Texas, on January 27, 2023.

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. Buckalew was chosen to represent the Texas Automobile Dealers Association in the national competition – one of only 48 auto dealers nominated for the 54th annual award from more than 16,000 nationwide.

“We have been in the car business in Conroe for more than 57 years and have generations of customers,” nominee Buckalew said. “The longevity of our success is rooted in our team, our commitment to the customer and to the community, and our determination to do the right thing, always.”

A 1977 graduate of Conroe High School in Conroe, Buckalew earned a degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, in 1981. His career plan after college was to return to Conroe and continue his education at the family’s Chevrolet store, which his father, Don Buckalew, founded with a partner in 1965.

“I started at the dealership at a very early age and worked in every department, learning the business from the ground up,” he said. “It was important to my parents that I understand the full scope of the commitment required to be a successful dealer.”

After college, Buckalew took on customer-facing responsibilities and honed his skills in the service end of the business. “This is where I learned to listen to the customer and understand the importance of providing a safe, reliable vehicle for a family,” he said. “I was taught to treat each customer like an extension of our family, and I took a great deal of pride in helping others.”

Buckalew oversaw fixed operations until he was named general manager in 2008. In 2019, he became dealer and today, he continues to work with his father and his brother, Denny, to manage the successful dealership, a mainstay in his community.

“My father was an incredible mentor to me throughout my life,” he said. “Watching his day-to-day management taught me a great deal about doing things right, treating others the way I wanted to be treated, and prioritizing our customers and employees above self.”

Buckalew is also committed to his industry and has devoted his time and expertise to the Texas Automobile Dealers Association as chair of the board in 2019 and the Houston Automobile Dealers Association, where he currently serves as director.

His father stressed the importance of giving back to the community as well, through donations and service. “He believed that if we were going to be the local automobile dealer and earn our living in this community, then it was our responsibility to invest back in the people who supported us,” he said. “Community service has created a strong sense of team among our employees and a stronger connection to our customers.”

To that end, Buckalew Chevrolet donates to many organizations, charities and events that support young people and the less fortunate, but for Buckalew, getting involved makes all the difference.

He has contributed his time to the Montgomery County Fair Association as past president and current board member and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, where he is a lifetime member and participates in the Go Texan Committee. While these organizations support the community by offering great entertainment, they also provide scholarships to young people in his area.

A member of the Conroe Noon Lions Club, Buckalew serves on the board of the group and engages in its community outreach, including the annual Christmas food basket delivery. “Bringing the baskets to the homebound and the elderly and seeing them smile is unforgettable,” he said. “Knowing that they may not have food for Christmas without this donation is very humbling.”

Buckalew added, “We have been very blessed to have worked with great people who share our work ethic, our passion to take care of our customers and our commitment to serve the community.”

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 12th 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, which highlights the philanthropic contributions and achievements of TIME Dealer of the Year nominees.

“For over 50 years, TIME has been committed to recognizing the impact of automotive dealers on their communities with the TIME Dealer of the Year award," said Edward Felsenthal, editor in chief and CEO, TIME. "We are proud to continue the legacy of honoring these works of service with our partners at Ally.”

Doug Timmerman, president of dealer financial services, Ally, said, “Auto dealers across the country who are nominated for this award each year are committed to not only doing it right and leading in a rapidly changing automotive industry but to strengthening their communities through giving back. The TIME Dealer of the Year program celebrates dealers who are the role models of the retail auto industry for their continuous efforts to lift up and support their employees, customers and communities.”

Buckalew was nominated for the was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by
Darren Whitehurst, president of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Leesa, have one daughter.