Matt Cook 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. Cook was chosen to represent the Idaho 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.
“My role as a car dealer in a small town extends far beyond the showroom,” nominee Cook said. “I am a steward of the resources I have been blessed with in order to enhance the lives of my employees and to make big contributions to my local community to ensure it is a better place to live.”
Cook earned a B.A. in political science in 1995 and law degree in 1998 from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He had worked as a law clerk for a federal judge and was an associate at an international law firm in Houston, Texas for eight years when he decided to take a different career path that ultimately brought him back to his family roots in Idaho.
“My story really begins in 1917 when Alonzo Read, my great-grandfather, started the first Ford dealership in Idaho,” he said. “By 1938, that store had changed hands and became Goode Motor Ford. Fast forward to 1994 when I married Trista Williams, an Idaho native, whose father happened to be owner and general manager of Goode Motor Ford.”
Cook, who grew up in Texas, had never been to Idaho and was shocked by the connection. He often joked with his father-in-law, Garth Williams, that he was going to return to Idaho to reclaim the dealership. In 2006, Cook joined Williams in the family business.
“My office changed from a skyscraper in downtown Houston to a small dealership in Burley,” he said. “This was a massive risk for me, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
Cook started in sales and learned the car business from the ground up. He attended industry events and NADA meetings, joined NADA 20 Groups, and took management and leadership training through the Ally Academy. He worked with Williams on expanding the company’s footprint by buying other Idaho dealerships. In 2016, he was named dealer principal and owner upon Williams’ retirement.
Today, the Goode Motor Auto Group has dealership locations in Idaho and Alaska, representing brands Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Jeep, Mazda, Ram, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen and Honda Powersports.
“My employees are the key to our growth and success,” Cook said. “I view this business as a people business, not a car business. My employees are like my family, so I focus on their well-being.”
He is proud that Goode Motor Auto Group was named fourth overall among large employers in the 2023 Best Places to Work in Idaho, an annual program that ranks companies based on confidential employee surveys. And he said his dealership group consistently finishes in the top 10.
“Joining the retail auto industry from an unrelated field allowed me to approach the car business with a unique perspective,” Cook said. To that end, he has brought his fresh insights to the Idaho Automobile Dealers Association and volunteered many hours providing his legal expertise on legislative strategies and issues.
Cook is not only committed to his industry but to his community as well. He created the Goode Gives Back initiative, challenging each dealership to take on a large community project each year. “We have organized golf scrambles raising money for schools and local charities, hosted a PTO carnival, built a playground for a school, supplied materials for a new library, and many other significant projects through this program,” he said.
To aid in charitable giving, Cook, his wife Trista, and their partners at Goode Auto Group founded the Goode Education Foundation (Goode Foundation), which is under the Goode Gives Back umbrella. For every dollar an employee contributes to the Goode Foundation, the dealership matches that donation 100 percent. In addition, each dealership has a committee of employees who decide how the charitable funds are allocated, so they are in control of their giving.
“The Goode Foundation has funded projects like purchasing a 15-passenger van for a youth outreach charity, buying a car for a mom to take a paralyzed child to Salt Lake City for treatments, installing a home elevator to help a disabled person, purchasing the historic Burley Theater to promote the performing arts, and most recently approving construction of a basketball court to be built in an underprivileged part of town,” he said.
In addition, Cook encourages employees to volunteer their time to charitable initiatives and will pay them as if it’s a normal workday when they are off-site at a dealership-supported activity.
“In many ways, time is more valuable than money, and our employees work with youth groups and scout troops, coach youth baseball, and make many other contributions,” he said.
The Goode Foundation’s annual Teacher of the Year program gives a $1,000 award to five outstanding educators, one from each area high school, based on student and parent surveys. And the Goode Foundation sponsors a dozen Cambodian children by paying their full-time educational expenses.
“Employee giving is an essential part of being in the Goode Motor family, and it is our employees who helped craft that culture,” Cook 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.”
Cook was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Jim Addis, vice president and executive director of the Idaho Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife Trista have five children and two grandchildren.