Gary Housley 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. Housley was chosen to represent the New Mexico Automotive Dealers Association in the national competition – one of only 49 auto dealers nominated for the 55th annual award from more than 16,000 nationwide.
“The highlight of my automobile career has been meeting and working with the incredible mentors who have been an invaluable part of my life and have shared their time, talent, faith, and principles,” nominee Housley said. “Their legacy lives on in me, and I am diligently working to pass that knowledge on to the next generation.”
Housley was first introduced to the automotive industry during his sophomore year in high school in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where he enrolled in the school’s Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) program and was assigned to work in a local auto parts store.
After high school, he secured a position in the parts department of Bradley Chevrolet in Broken Arrow, where he was instrumental in transitioning the dealership to a new computer system. Housley was repeatedly promoted and was named fixed-operations director.
He quickly moved from fixed operations to sales management. The position he held in 1987 when Don Chalmers purchased the dealership. Don would become a very important influence in his career.
“Early in my career, I married my junior high school sweetheart, Debi, were blessed with two children,” he said. “With a young family at home, I was hesitant to move into sales, but with my wife’s support, much prayer and the goal of becoming a general manger, I took that leap.”
In 1998, Chalmers opened a Ford store in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, and he asked Housley to relocate there and run the operation for him.
“My wife and I had lived our entire lives in that same small town and the thought of uprooting our family was terrifying to both of us, but we packed up 40 years of memories and headed west,” he said.
In 2012, Chalmers offered him a partnership. After Chalmers’ untimely death, Housley purchased the majority shares in Chalmers Ford and is currently dealer principal.
“Don and I worked to instill a culture that built customers for life,” he said. “I enjoy every facet of leading a successful customer-focused dealership, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to pursue my American dream.”
One of the perks Housley established in the dealership is an in-house wellness center, which is available to employees and their families. Staffed by a certified nurse practitioner, the clinic offers immunization services, prescription services, blood and drug screening services, as well as smoking cessation and weight loss programs.
An active member of the New Mexico Automotive Dealers Association, where he has served as chair, vice chair, and treasurer, Housley understands the importance dealers play in economic growth, both locally and statewide. He also believes that the community is a stakeholder in his company, and he and his team invest their time, talent, and treasure giving back.
“Our motto is ‘We want to be a great dealer in a great community, not a good dealer in a mediocre community,’” he said.
To that end, each week his employees deliver Meals on Wheels to individuals who need nourishment and social interaction, no matter their age or disability. His team also volunteers with Casa Esperanza to bring prepared meals to patients and their families who are receiving medical treatment in Albuquerque that live outside the metro area.
One of the dealership’s largest programs is their annual Christmas event at UNM Children’s Hospital in Albuquerque. His staff raises money – which Chalmers Ford matches – and they purchase, wrap, and deliver gifts to cheer up children who are in the hospital over the holiday. The dealership also provides goody bags for family members and nurses, as well as a catered lunch. “Words cannot do justice to the good this does for everyone involved, including employees, the families, and the hospital staff,” Housley said.
Other organizations he supports include the United Way of North Central New Mexico; Quality New Mexico; Make-A-Wish New Mexico; Tamaya Horse Rehab; American Cancer Society; Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico; and many others.
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.”
Housley was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Ken Ortiz, executive director of the New Mexico Automotive Dealers Association. He and his wife, Debi, have two children.