Troy Duhon 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. Duhon was chosen to represent the Louisiana 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.
“Our continued success is attributed to the loyalty of both our valued customers and dedicated employees,” nominee Duhon said. “We foster a community-driven culture that resonates deeply with our associates. This shared commitment is a driving force behind the loyalty of many within our workforce.”
A 1986 graduate of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he earned a B.S. in marketing, Duhon always wanted to be a car dealer.
“My love of the business began at the age of 12 – with a bucket and a rag – when I began washing cars at my dad's used-car lot,” he said. At age 18, Duhon started selling autos to help finance his education and in 1991, he received a percentage of the dealership where he worked. He purchased Toyota of New Orleans in 1995.
“Through years of hard work, faith, and belief in this amazing industry, I realized my childhood dream at the age of 30,” he said. “And I still have the same love for this business!”
Duhon has significantly expanded beyond his initial Toyota store and today Premier Automotive encompasses 35 dealerships in California, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Georgia, Virginia and Texas, representing multiple brands. His son, Josh, and daughter, Abigail, are now part of the family enterprise.
“My career path was largely shaped by my father,” he said. “He started his career in the automotive industry, and while his journey later led him to become a preacher, his wisdom has forever guided me. My father always emphasized the importance of supporting employees and contributing positively to the community.”
To that end, Duhon and his wife, Tracy, created Giving Hope, a charitable organization that promotes human dignity with a mission to provide food, clothing, shelter, freedom and fellowship to those in need. This nonprofit group grew from a single food pantry at Toyota of New Orleans into a far-reaching aid organization that helps the most vulnerable in society on a local and global level.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which devastated New Orleans and left eight feet of water in his dealership, Duhon set out to not only rebuild his store but his community as well. He built the first Giving Hope Food Pantry next to his dealership. It distributed 7.2 million pounds of food and cooked 320,000 hot meals in 2022.
“Louisiana is among the highest states in the country where citizens face food insecurity,” he said. “We feed thousands of people and prepare hot meals daily for senior citizens. And we have opened additional food pantries in Louisiana, Kansas, California and Hawaii.”
Other programs under the Giving Hope umbrella include the Giving Hope Community Center which partnered with Thrive New Orleans to provide summer camp, after-school programs, and a wellness center in the city’s Desire neighborhood, the Giving Hope Retreat Center which partnered with New Orleans Mission to build a safe haven to help individuals find a fresh start in life by offering training for trade jobs, GED programs, and lifestyle courses, the Hope House Orphanages which built facilities in Ukraine, India, Honduras, Gambia, Russia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and South Africa, with one in slated to open in the Philippines in 2024, Women of Hope Unite, an organization of like-minded women who work together for change and support children by providing adoption assistance, foster care family support, help for critically ill children, educational scholarships, and other initiatives.
On a more local level, he is proud of his annual Stay in School car giveaway which offers one lucky high school senior from NOLA Public Schools the chance to win a new vehicle if he or she has perfect attendance. This popular program at Toyota of New Orleans has been ongoing for 17 years.
“My father taught me to become a dream-maker,” Duhon said. “He told me when you make dreams come true for others, God makes your dreams come true.”
In addition, Duhon also invests in his employees, providing ongoing educational opportunities and a Premier Dealer Academy for emerging managers and partners. He also encourages his team to volunteer by giving one Hope Day per year, during which employees receive full pay to volunteer for the nonprofit or charity organization of their choice.
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.”
Duhon was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Will H. Green, president and CEO of the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife Tracy have four children.