Robert H. Crews III 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. Crews was chosen to represent the South Carolina 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.
“The relationships I’ve built over 40 years in the automotive business are so special,” nominee Crews said. “Many key members of our team have been with us for over 20 years. Together we have created a culture of a customer first, community centered business. This allows me to focus on taking care of our 200+ team members and their families. Most days I’m in the people business, not the car business. So many who have bought and serviced their vehicles with us have become friends. I value the team I get to work with every day, as well as, the manufacturers, the banks, and the dealer association that support our industry.”
Crews attended Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. He began his auto career in 1980 working with his cousin Rick Hendrick at Rick Hendrick Honda in Columbia, Charleston, and McKinney, Texas.
“I had the great opportunity to learn the business from Rick, who challenged me to excel professionally, to care for others, and to give back to the community,” he said. “Working with him was a wonderful experience and gave me the foundation to eventually own and manage my own stores.”
Crews moved back home to Charleston, SC to oversee BMW, Volvo, Honda and Saturn dealerships before buying the Saturn of Charleston franchise in 2001. In 2009, he acquired the Subaru franchise and in 2010 he purchased the Chevrolet facility right next door. The Crews organization is always about doing the right thing and giving back to the community. Because of these efforts, the Crews team was awarded with Subaru manufacturer’s top honor 2021 “Love Promise Retailer of the Year.”
Locally, Crews Subaru has been named Charleston’s Choice “Best Place to Buy an Import” for four of the last five years. Crews Chevrolet has been named Charleston’s Choice “Best Domestic Dealer” for eight consecutive years.
Crews said “My first car was a Malibu – we were a Chevrolet family – and now it’s a dream come true for my wife Kelley and I to own Crews Chevrolet with my sister, Laura Martin. We raised our four now grown children, Spencer, Robert, Summer and Sydney in Charleston.”
His enthusiasm for the auto industry has remained constant for more than 40 years. Crews brings that same optimism to the board of the South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, where he has served at large since 2019 and as a vice president since 2022.
“In the last few years, we have diligently addressed changes in legislation that have had an impact on our businesses statewide,” he said. “I feel fortunate to represent and advocate for fellow dealers and to find solutions for the issues facing the auto industry in South Carolina.”
Understanding that car dealerships play an important role as an economic driver and philanthropic partner in the communities they serve, Crews is dedicated to rallying his team to give back. His stores support over 80 organizations and charities in the community.
“When I put my last name on the car dealerships, I felt like I was really putting my dad’s name on them,” he said. “I think he would smile about that. But I also feel if he were to see the impact that we strive to make every day by helping our community, he would be incredibly proud.”
To that end, one of his most important initiatives is working with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Charleston, where he has served on the board since 2019.
“In the last 11 years, our donations have provided more than 5,500 room nights for families near the hospitals where their critically ill children are receiving medical treatment,” Crews said. “This allows the family to focus on what is really important – taking care of the immediate needs of their ailing child.”
Crews also holds American Red Cross blood drives at his dealership and provides meals to neighbors in need through the Lowcountry Food Bank.
“Since June of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, we have collected over 3,000 units of blood in 107 blood drives held in our showrooms and have helped provide 1.4 million meals to food-insecure children, adults, veterans, and seniors,” he said.
Other organizations he supports include Surfers Healing Folly Beach, a surfing camp for children with autism, Jeans Angels a mobile shower, laundry, and barber trailer that also provides meals for the homeless, Make-a-Wish SC, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which has provides 800 blankets to patients undergoing treatment at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, Charleston Friends of the Library, Charleston Animal Society, Hallie Hill Animal Sanctuary, East Cooper Meals on Wheels and many more.
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.”
Crews was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by E. Sims Floyd Jr., executive vice president of the South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife Kelley have four children.