Thomas Murphy 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. Murphy was chosen to represent the Massachusetts 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.
“For decades, Falmouth Toyota has set a standard for honesty and integrity, winning top honors in customer satisfaction both regionally and nationally many times over,” nominee Murphy said. “We could not have done any of it without our amazing customers and so many great employees we’ve had the privilege to work with throughout the years.”
Murphy is a 1957 graduate of Framingham High School in Framingham, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1960 and attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1964 to 1966 until his tuition coverage under the G.I. Bill ran out.
To pay for the rest of his college education, Murphy took a job as a lot attendant at a Dodge dealership in Natick, Massachusetts, and was soon working on the sales floor.
“I had found my calling,” he said. With a knack for selling, Murphy became sales manager and eventually general manager. He then moved to a Volkswagen dealership in Westboro, Massachusetts, where he met Chris Bullock, who later opened a Toyota store in Hyannis on Cape Cod and asked Murphy to be his general manager.
“My family had very little money when I was growing up, but I had such happy memories of times spent on the Cape,” he said. “I took the job, and it is one of the best decisions my wife Janet and I ever made.”
Murphy ran the dealership for 10 years, establishing a strong reputation for honesty and integrity, before he was offered an opportunity to run a Toyota store in East Falmouth, Massachusetts, with an ownership stake and full buy-out option.
“It was truly a complete and total leap of faith,” he said. “I asked one of my sales managers to join me and in 1982, Mike Conroy and I started at Falmouth Toyota with the mission of providing the absolute best car-buying experience possible.”
Within two years, Murphy completed the buy-out and was the sole owner. And the timing was ideal as the Toyota brand gained strength and popularity in the 1980s. Conroy and Murphy built a loyal and growing customer base and in 1989, they moved to a larger location in Bourne but kept the Falmouth Toyota name.
“It is hard to believe Falmouth Toyota has grown and thrived in our current location for nearly 35 years,” he said. “Mike is still with me as are many other wonderful employees that have been here 20, 30, even 40 years.”
Murphy’s two sons, Matt and Tom, have joined the family enterprise and are the next generation to carry on a legacy of outstanding customer service.
“At 85 years old, I still love coming to work every day and I still love the automobile business,” he said. “Sometimes I have to stop and reflect on my good fortune as my wife and I have truly lived the American Dream.”
And he works to help others achieve their own ambitions through a wide range of community initiatives. Once a caddie himself, Murphy partnered with his friend and hockey great Bobby Orr to establish a scholarship for caddies at the Ridge Club in Sandwich, Massachusetts. The scholarship is administered through the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund, which provides need-based college scholarships to young men and women who work at Massachusetts golf courses.
For the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) in nearby Buzzards Bay, Murphy created the Falmouth Toyota scholarship fund which provides financial assistance to incoming freshmen with diverse and/or low-income backgrounds.
“With some of the highest graduation rates in the nation, MMA’s rigorous and challenging curriculum results in graduates that enjoy success worldwide in an array of fields,” he said. “We are so proud to be affiliated with an institution that is such a beacon in challenging times.”
He also supports the Robert G. Ahern Scholarship Trust Fund that awards scholarships to students whose parents or legal guardians are employees of New England Toyota dealerships.
Murphy never forgets his roots and the struggles he faced as a child, including food insecurity. To that end, his dealership has supported food pantries for decades. For several years Murphy has been a very strong supporter of Habitat for Humanity Cape Cod as he personally identifies with their mission of community-building through hard work and self-reliance.
“For more than 20 years, we have donated over 200 turkeys annually at Thanksgiving and Christmas to the food pantries in the towns of Bourne, Falmouth, and Sandwich,” he said. “In addition, we contribute financially to these same organizations monthly and annually so that their amazing volunteers can continue their incredible work in the community.”
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.”
Murphy was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Robert O'Koniewski, executive vice president and general counsel of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association. Tom and his wife, Janet, have two sons and one daughter.