Scott Bieler 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. Bieler was chosen to represent the New York State 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.
“West Herr's success is the direct result of our employees and their ongoing efforts and commitment to excellence,” nominee Bieler said. “I am humbled and honored to work with each and every one of them. They continue to show that a company can be a family, a friend, a neighbor, and a place where lasting relationships are made.”
A 1974 graduate of Erie Community College (now SUNY Erie) in Williamsville, New York, where he studied business, Bieler started his career in sales at West Herr Ford of Hamburg in 1975. He was soon promoted to sales management and then general manager before partnering with Brad Hafner in 1981 and expanding the business. Bieler was named president in 1997 and since 2000 he has been the principal majority owner of West Herr Automotive Group with three partners.
“When I started at West Herr, there were only 45 employees in our single Ford store,” Bieler said. “Now, our dealership group includes 39 locations in Erie, Niagara, Monroe, and Ontario counties, representing 27 franchises and employing more than 3,000.”
He is proud that he has built a company that customers and employees value and trust. In 2023, West Herr Automotive Group was deemed one of the Best Places to Work by Buffalo Business First for the 19th consecutive year and was named on the list of Rochester Top Workplaces by the Democrat & Chronicle. In addition, the 2023 Automotive Reputation Report, a respected consumer survey, ranks West Herr second among all privately held dealer groups in the nation.
“Our auto group is dedicated to absolute excellence in customer service provided by honest, responsible, and respectful associates,” Bieler said. “We support individual pride, company spirit, and community involvement and strive to be a good corporate citizen, giving back to the communities that have supported us through the years.”
Bieler currently serves the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation (board vice chair); Visit Buffalo Niagara (board); Invest Buffalo Niagara (taskforce member); the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable (member); and Daemen University (board of trustees). He has also held leadership positions at the Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and Hilbert College.
He is most proud of his long association with the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo. The Scott Bieler Amherst Center, located in Williamsville, New York, is Roswell Park’s first new-build outside of its downtown Buffalo campus and provides state-of-the-art cancer care for residents in northern Erie County. He also contributed to the building of the Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center at Roswell Park, which allowed for the expansion of services and programs for cancer patients.
West Herr Automotive Group has been presenting sponsor of the Ride for Roswell, Roswell Park’s annual major fundraising event, since 2011. “With more than 8,000 riders and 2,000 volunteers that joined in a shared mission to end cancer, we raised $5.6 million in 2023,” Bieler said. “Our West Herr team included more than 100 riders and contributed $300,000 to the effort.”
Bieler and his wife, Kathy, established the Scott Bieler Family Foundation and have made significant gifts to Mercy Hospital of Buffalo; Rural Outreach Center in East Aurora (aids families living in poverty in western New York); Jericho Road Community Health Center/Vive Shelter; and the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo Foundation, to name a few.
For his good works, Bieler has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Theodore Roosevelt Exemplary Citizenship Award; Outstanding Citizen recognition by the Buffalo News; Canisius College Distinguished Citizen Award; and Roswell Park's Katherine Anne Gioia Inspiration Award.
“Our goal is to create rewarding lifetime careers for our employees while giving back to the community to make everyone’s lives better,” Bieler said. “And our employees work with us to support many worthwhile charitable organizations in western New York.”
From food and toy drives to participating in events like Walk to End Alzheimer’s and Tour de Cure: Finger Lakes Region (to support the American Diabetes Association), West Herr employees are actively involved in community outreach. The West Herr Pay It Forward program provides $500 to 100 employees each year for them to use on random acts of kindness.
Other organizations his dealership group supports include Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens; SPCA Serving Erie County; FeedMore WNY; Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo; Boys & Girls Clubs (in western and central New York); and many others.
“I have been extremely blessed with a lifetime of family support, starting with my beloved parents who passed away in 2020, younger brother Dean, my beautiful wife Kathy, and my stepson Matt and his family,” Bieler. “I also value the commitment and dedication of our outstanding employees who are the foundation of our exceptional and rare company.”
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.”
Bieler was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Robert Vancavage, president of the New York State Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife Kathy have one son.