Nickolas York 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. York was chosen to represent the Automobile Dealers Association of Indiana in the national competition – one of only 49 auto dealers nominated for the 55th annual award from more than 16,000 nationwide.
“Faith, hard work, continual learning, and improving the lives of others around me have brought me the success that I've achieved thus far in my life,” nominee York said.
A 1993 graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington, where he earned a B.A. in public affairs, York remembers the exact moment that his family’s automotive group was formed.
“I was sitting on the back porch with my dad discussing an opportunity he had to purchase a car dealership,” he said. “He told me about the sacrifices we were going to have to make and what it would mean for our family. Little did I know that 37 years later, we would grow into a six-dealership group employing more than 300 people.”
York’s father, Bob, who had been in dealership sales management for many years before founding that first store in 1987, taught him at an early age to treat employees and customers with honest respect. That philosophy inspired the company slogan, “We’re Not #1, You Are.”
York started at the bottom washing cars at the store during high school and filling in wherever needed during college breaks. He tagged along with his dad to meetings and absorbed as much as he could about the business.
“When I had time away from school, I always found myself at the dealership,” he said.
After college, York attended the NADA Academy in 1994 and worked in all facets of dealership operations before moving into sales management. When the company bought a second store in 2000, he became dealer principal. The group continued to grow, adding another store a few years later.
“When my dad passed away in 2011, I assumed a leadership role of the dealership group along with my brother to oversee our three locations,” he said. “Since then, we have been growth-minded, looking for the right fit to expand where we can serve customers and impact the community in a positive way.”
Today, the York Automotive Group encompasses six dealerships in the Indianapolis area, representing Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Jeep and Ram. York’s brother, wife, and two nephews all contribute to the family business.
An active current member of the Indianapolis Auto Trade Association, York also served in leadership capacities for the Automobile Dealers Association of Indiana. During his tenure on the board of his state group, he worked to increase visibility and advocacy.
“We were at the tip of the spear for combatting the direct sales model and helped to educate our legislators and also develop statutes to strengthen the dealer model in Indiana,” he said. “I am proud of the work we accomplished during my tenure, and I remain active in strengthening our position with the legislature to ensure a level playing field with manufacturers.”
York is also committed to his community and has created a novel approach to giving back through his Drive to Donate initiative (#DriveToDonate). Each month, his store partners with a local charity and for each vehicle sold or leased, the charity receives a dollar-value donation.
“We market the campaign and promote the charity in a whimsical monthly calendar that is emailed to our customer list of 7,000, along with a personal note from me and my wife about the charity,” he said. “This brings tremendous exposure to our #DriveToDonate partner and its mission.”
Some of the organizations that have recently benefitted include Reach Out & Read Indiana, Way Maker Inc., Misty Eyes Animal Center, The Little Timmy Project, Susie’s Place Child Advocacy Center, Hendricks Regional Health Foundation, Indy Honor Flight and many others.
“Touching thousands of people’s lives and having supported hundreds of different charities is more satisfying than business results,” York 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.”
York was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Marty Murphy, executive vice president of the Automobile Dealers Association of Indiana. He and his wife Kaye have one daughter.