(New York, NY, October 18, 2022) – The nomination of Jay Darling, dealer principal at Darling’s Ford VW Audi in Bangor, Maine, for the 2023 TIME Dealer of the Year award was announced today by TIME.
Darling 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. Darling was chosen to represent the Maine 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.
“As the fourth generation of our family business, it is profoundly meaningful to know that we are honoring the values of my father and grandfather – and continuing the legacy of my great grandfather,” nominee Darling said. “Our success for more than a century has afforded Darling’s the opportunity to give back to the communities in which we live and serve.”
Darling is a 1994 graduate of Husson University in Bangor, where he earned a B.S. in business administration. He also attended the NADA Academy in 1997 in preparation for a career at his family’s dealership group. Darling has deep roots in Maine, as his descendants have been doing business there since 1899 when V.S. Darling opened a bicycle shop in Auburn.
“Early on in my career, I worked my way up through the company, cleaning cars, delivering parts, being a service writer, coding warranties, selling cars and attending auctions,” he said. “It was invaluable to gain firsthand experience in all the departments of Darling’s.”
Darling attended NADA 20 Group peer meetings while still in high school and college. He even helped negotiate the purchase of a dealership with the company’s treasurer during college and hit the ground running after graduating.
“I have worked closely with my father, siblings and members of our leadership team to systematically grow Darling’s family of brands, as well as diversify our business portfolio,” he said.
By 2008, he was named president of Darling’s Auto Group and today oversees 14 brands in six locations in Maine, representing Audi, Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Nissan, Ram, Volkswagen and Volvo.
“The complexity of managing 14 automotive brands and more than 500 employees is only possible when surrounded by an exceptionally strong team, and we are fortunate to have an amazing group here at Darling’s,” he said. “Now into our fifth generation, everyone here has great people to lean on. With all of this support, I have learned every lesson I could to help me guide our company toward a strong and lasting future.”
An active member of the Maine Automobile Dealers Association, Darling has served on the board of directors since 2008 and was named chair from 2014 to 2016 and vice chair from 2012 to 2014. He also contributes his time to the advertising boards for some of the carmakers he represents.
“Supporting our state association has allowed me to bring my perspective and knowledge to the table to help advance the group’s strategic objectives and strengthen the automobile industry across Maine,” he said.
Darling has also served on the boards of Husson University; United Way of Eastern Maine (now known as Heart of Maine United Way); and Bangor Region YMCA.
“In lending both personal support and financial resources, Darling’s has been able to help promote and advance hundreds of organizations throughout multiple communities,” he said.
One such initiative is Darling’s Ice Cream for a Cause, a mobile ice cream truck that is stocked by Darling’s company and provides free ice cream for events in exchange for voluntary donations to help raise money for local charities, including Community Closet; Beth C. Wright Cancer Resource Center; Bess the Book Bus; Challenger Learning Center of Maine; and many more.
Other groups that have benefitted from the generosity of Darling’s Auto Group include Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program; Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry; Augusta Food Bank; Maine Veterans Project; Bangor Humane Society; Bangor Public Library Summer Music Series; Sarah’s Home of Maine; Downeast Community Partners’ THAW Fund (provides energy assistance to households), as well as local schools through Ford Drive 4 UR School test drive promotions.
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 AllyDealerHeroes.com, 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.”
Darling was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Tom Brown, president of the Maine Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Karen, have two children.