John Roberts Sr. 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. Roberts was chosen to represent the Tennessee Automotive Association in the national competition – one of only 49 auto dealers nominated for the 55th annual award from more than 16,000 nationwide.
“The auto industry is not for the faint of heart, but it is incredibly rewarding,” nominee Roberts said. “I am grateful for everything this business has brought me. I would not be the person I am today if I had chosen to do something else.”
A 1983 graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he studied business management and political science, Roberts knew from an early age that he wanted to carve out a career in the retail automotive industry and continue the legacy of his parents, Mary Ann and Charles Edward “Bay” Roberts.
“I grew up in my parents’ dealerships and that’s where my love for this business was rooted,” he said. “My mother and father instilled in me a strong work ethic, and I took the opportunity they gave me and ran with it.”
Roberts worked in numerous capacities at the stores owned and operated by his parents. Today, he is dealer principal at John Roberts Toyota and John Roberts Nissan, both in Manchester. His daughter, Caitlin, and two of his sons, John Jr. and Spencer, are the next generation to join the dealership group.
“I am proud to coach my children at our dealerships,” he said. “It wasn't something I expected, but it's been rewarding to have them choose to come back to the family business.”
Maintaining good relationships – with employees, manufacturers, the community and the government – has helped Roberts be successful. To that end, he is honored to have been appointed by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to serve as board chair for the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission, a position he has held since 2019. Roberts’ connection to his local community is equally as strong. He has held leadership positions for the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the Industrial Board of Coffee County and the Manchester Planning Commission & Board of Zoning Appeals.
“I helped grow my county and surrounding area by assisting in recruiting most of the significant industries we have in the community today,” he said. “We also worked to plan for the city's future growth by widening and lighting roads, as well as implementing appropriate zoning laws to stimulate the market.”
Other entities that Roberts supports include Lipscomb University with athletics, state-of-the-art telecommunications classroom, and scholarships for leadership and public service, Coffee County Athletics, Good Samaritan which provides food and assistance for utilities, Tennessee Kidney Foundation which empowers and supports those at risk or affected by kidney disease and Adoption Project Foundation which supports policy research and development to improve adoption and foster care systems.
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.”
Roberts was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by the Tennessee Automotive Association. John and his wife Kimberly have five children.