Mark Politte 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. Politte was chosen to represent the Maine Automobile Dealers Association in the national competition – one of only 49 auto dealers nominated for the 55th annual award from more than 16,000 nationwide.
“I’ve been lucky enough to assemble a tenured, seasoned and motivated management team,” nominee Politte said. “They support our vision of surprising and delighting every guest and our culture of going the extra mile to ensure that employees and the community flourish. It’s only because of them that our success has been realized and endures.”
A 1993 graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering technologies, Politte took a circuitous route to owning a car dealership. He first worked as an engineer in Baltimore, Maryland, for two years before landing a job at Ford Motor Company as a field service engineer trainee. He eventually moved into sales and marketing and spent 10 years at the company.
“I’ve loved cars my whole life, and throughout college, I dreamed of working in the auto industry,” Politte said. “The best part of my job at Ford was visiting the dealerships and working with dealers to improve sales and service processes.”
That experience and depth of knowledge would be advantageous when Politte got the opportunity to purchase a small Subaru dealership in rural Maine in 2004.
“I bought the only dealership that I could afford,” he said. “We are the easternmost Subaru store in America, and I'm told, the smallest AOR [area of responsibility] in the franchisor’s network. Our success and survival are only possible by exceptional performance in market share, service loyalty, and guest satisfaction.”
Politte rose to the challenge by building relationships and providing an outstanding sales and service experience – and by offering great value and exclusive perks to his guests. The success of his business model has prompted him to add a second store to his portfolio, Stanley Chevrolet in Belfast, Maine.
Since 2014, Politte has served as trustee for the Maine Automobile Dealers Association Insurance Trust, and he is very active in the organization, participating in the full range of association business, including political action. He also belongs to three NADA 20 Groups and benefits from this peer network while recruiting other dealers to participate.
Giving back to the community is the cornerstone of his business, and one of his most important initiatives is supporting teachers in local schools. For more than 15 years, Stanley Subaru has implemented a full calendar of campaigns and events slated for educators.
Each September, the dealership’s Adopt-A-Classroom program provides $500 to each teacher to purchase school supplies. On in-service day in March, Politte’s team delivers 400 pizzas and flowers to schools in his district for teachers to enjoy. And at the end of the school year in May, he marks Teacher Appreciation Day by delivering care packages to every teacher featuring candy, flowers, a grocery store gift card and a certificate for a free oil change.
“We’ve provided 1,500 complimentary oil changes since the program’s inception,” he said. “Our local teachers truly are the backbone of our community and don’t get the pay or recognition they deserve. We are delighted to shine the spotlight on them three times a year.”
Politte also supports the arts and has donated and raised funds for The Grand, a local theater in downtown Ellsworth, Maine, that presents live productions on the Stanley Subaru Stage.
During Stanley Subaru’s Test Drive for a Cure initiative, Politte donates $10 for every test drive during the month of October to the Mary Dow Center at Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital for those who need financial assistance to receive a mammogram.
He also galvanizes his employees to get involved. His team worked together and cleaned up trails at a local bird sanctuary and on the grounds of the Woodlawn Museum; hosted pet adoption events at the dealership for the SPCA of Hancock County; unloaded tractors full of food at the Bar Harbor Food Bank; and many other charitable endeavors.
Politte was proud to receive the 2023 Subaru Love Promise Customer & Community Commitment Award and to be nominated for the Subaru Love Promise Retailer of the Year.
“To be one of only six nominees among 700 retailers – in the smallest market in the country – for doing what we believe is the right way to do business, was a humbling affirmation that we are delivering on our vision and mission statements,” he said.
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.”
Politte was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Tom Brown, president of the Maine Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife Samantha have three children.