“We offer our employees a family-friendly environment and close the store on Sundays to support a more balanced life for our team. We appreciate their outstanding service to our customers, which has resulted in tremendous repeat and referral business.”
(New York, NY, October 18, 2022) – The nomination of Tom R. O’Steen Sr., co-owner and dealer principal at O’Steen Volkswagen in Jacksonville, Florida, for the 2023 TIME Dealer of the Year award was announced today by TIME.
O’Steen is one of a select group of 48 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 106th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show in Dallas, Texas, on January 27, 2023.
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. O’Steen was chosen to represent the Florida Automobile Dealers Association in the national competition – one of only 48 auto dealers nominated for the 54th annual award from more than 16,000 nationwide.
“We offer our employees a family-friendly environment and close the store on Sundays to support a more balanced life for our team,” nominee O’Steen said. “We appreciate their outstanding service to our customers, which has resulted in tremendous repeat and referral business.”
O’Steen graduated from Robert E. Lee High School (now Riverside High School) in Jacksonville in 1978. He attended Valdosta State College in Georgia before embarking on a career in the retail automotive industry with a job at Coggin Pontiac/Coggin Honda in Jacksonville in 1982. Later while still working he completed, along with his cousin and now business partner, General Motors Dealer Management program at Emory Atlanta Ga.
“I started in sales and worked my way up to a management position at the Coggin Automotive Group,” O’Steen said. “This experience prepared me to realize my goal of owning a dealership.”
And that opportunity arrived in 1995 when he and his cousin and current partner, Mark O’Steen, acquired a struggling Volvo and Volkswagen store in Jacksonville. They turned that store around and today, the pair, along with another cousin, own four dealerships in Florida and Georgia, representing brands Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Subaru, Volkswagen and Volvo.
“Our twin fathers owned a drug store and instilled in us a customer-first mentality,” O’Steen said. “We employed that philosophy in our dealerships and along with hard work and support from family, friends and others, we have created a successful business.” His son and nephew are the next generation to join the family enterprise. His nephew is now a partner & COO and his son manages Investments & Banking.
O’Steen has served the Florida Automobile Dealers Association in various capacities, including chair in 2016 to 2017, and is currently on the board of the Jacksonville Automobile Dealers Association having been president in 2009 and 2018.
“I feel fortunate to have leadership positions and actually take part in the direction of our industry through current and future legislation,” he said. “The knowledge and talents of our dealer members and board have strengthened our local and state associations tremendously.”
A longtime member of the Rotary Club of Riverside in Jacksonville, O’Steen has spent more than 28 years working with the organization which allows him to give back to the community outside of the automobile business.
“We have held numerous fundraising events that have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, all going back into the community, mainly to children's charities,” he said. One such organization that has benefitted is Community PedsCare, a program for children with complex, chronic, life-limiting or advanced illness.
O’Steen’s dealerships also support youth sports; community events; blood drives; the United Way of Northeast Florida; Feeding Northeast Florida; Hunger Fight (local group that works to end hunger and illiteracy); and Family Promise of Jacksonville (aiding the homeless), to name a few.
“Giving back is so important for us,” he 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 12th 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.
“For over 50 years, TIME has been committed to recognizing the impact of automotive dealers on their communities with the TIME Dealer of the Year award," said Edward Felsenthal, editor in chief and CEO, TIME. "We are proud to continue the legacy of honoring these works of service with our partners at Ally.”
Doug Timmerman, president of dealer financial services, Ally, said, “Auto dealers across the country who are nominated for this award each year are committed to not only doing it right and leading in a rapidly changing automotive industry but to strengthening their communities through giving back. The TIME Dealer of the Year program celebrates dealers who are the role models of the retail auto industry for their continuous efforts to lift up and support their employees, customers and communities.”
O’Steen was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Ted Smith, president of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Sarah, have two children.