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Headshot of John Stanko, a white man with brown hair wearing a black suit jacket, a blue button-down shirt, and a blue and black design tie.

John Stanko

Champion Chevrolet
Reno, Nevada

“The most rewarding part of my career has been giving back to my community and industry, and watching our employees succeed with the opportunities they have been offered. To succeed in the car business, you have to love competing and be passionate about winning.”

(New York, NY, October 18, 2022) – The nomination of John P. Stanko, dealer and president of Champion Chevrolet in Reno, Nevada, for the 2023 TIME Dealer of the Year award was announced today by TIME.

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

“The most rewarding part of my career has been giving back to my community and industry, and watching our employees succeed with the opportunities they have been offered,” nominee Stanko said. “To succeed in the car business, you have to love competing and be passionate about winning.”
A 1962 graduate of South High School in Youngstown, Ohio, Stanko studied business at Youngstown State University, also in Youngstown. After high school, he was hired by a local Oldsmobile store, his first job in the retail automotive business.

“I was a service runner making $1 per hour, and my duties consisted of running to get parts, and picking up and delivering customer’s vehicles,” he said.

Stanko rose through the ranks and was named service manager before he ventured into sales. He learned he had a knack for selling and earned membership in the Oldsmobile Vanguard sales club for top producers each year. In 1968, he moved to a Buick dealership in Youngstown and again excelled in sales. He was then hired by State Chevrolet in Youngstown and was named general manager and later president of the dealership, where he would remain for 12 years.

After gaining a wealth of experience in Youngstown, Stanko ventured to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a position at Galles Chevrolet and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to work for General Motors before acquiring his own dealership, Champion Chevrolet in Reno in 1988.

“I was dedicated to spending long hours and working incredibly hard to learn how to manage a profitable dealership while saving to purchase my own store,” he said. “It is scary to put your life savings at risk in a business, but it is rewarding when you succeed.”

Having worked his way up from service runner to dealer, Stanko understands each job function and values his team greatly, offering competitive compensation and top benefits. “The success of Champion Chevrolet is our staff of 137 employees,” he said. “We did not lay off one person during the recession or during the pandemic.”

A longtime member of the Nevada Franchised Auto Dealers Association, where he has served as president of the board of directors and is currently secretary/treasurer, Stanko guided dealers through the creation of a self-insured workers’ compensation program.

Stanko is proud of his long-standing commitment to the city of Reno and his support of community groups that better the quality of life. During the pandemic hot lunches were delivered twice at $25,000 each to ER nurses and doctors at all 3 Reno hospitals. He has been a major sponsor of Driver’s Edge for more than 10 years. This 3-day program, which teaches real-life emergency avoidance and response techniques, as well as overall driver safety, is free to drivers under the age of 21.

“Driver's Edge was specifically developed to address the unacceptably high number of youth-related automobile collisions and fatalities that occur each year,” Stanko said.

He is also pleased to support the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), for 34 years in the areas of Wolf Pack Athletics and academics. For his good works, Champion Chevrolet’s name is engraved in the university’s Honor Court, which commemorates students, faculty, staff and donors who made a significant impact at UNR.

Champion Chevrolet is also a sponsor of Hot August Nights, for 34 years an annual nonprofit car show that celebrates America’s love affair with autos and rock and roll. In addition, Stanko donates a Chevy truck for auction at the annual fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows.

“We’ve provided a new truck to this group for more than 20 years,” he said. “We also have given over $300,000 in scholarships to deserving boys and girls for their future education.”

Other groups Stanko’s dealership has supported include the American Heart Association; American Lung Association; Ronald McDonald House Charities; Special Olympics; and Nevada Humane Society, to name a few.

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.”

Stanko was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Andrew MacKay, executive director of the Nevada Franchised Auto Dealers Association. He and his wife, Betty, have two children.