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“I am most proud of my year as chairman of the NADA in 2012.”
“I have had many experiences in my 32 years in the automotive industry,” nominee Underriner said. “But I am most proud of my year as chairman of the NADA in 2012. Representing America's new-car dealers and advocating for them was the highlight of my career.”
A 1970 graduate of Mount Carmel High School in Mount Carmel, Illinois, Underriner attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. He launched his career in the retail automotive industry in 1984 at his father-in-law’s dealership, Selover Buick, owned by George Selover in Billings. The store had a rich history in the city, as it was originally founded by Floyd Whitaker, Selover’s father-in-law, in 1944.
“I held many positions in the company before my wife and I bought the family business in 2001,” Underriner said. Today, they own Underriner Honda and Underriner Motors, a Buick, Hyundai and Volvo dealership in Billings, as well as dealerships in Washington and Oregon, which are run by their son Blake.
Underriner’s commitment to auto dealers in Montana and across the nation is evidenced by the many industry leadership roles he has undertaken. He has been on the board of the Montana Automobile Dealers Association for 27 years, serving as president and chairman. He also served on the NADA board for 15 years and is currently chairman of NADA PAC (political action committee) and treasurer of the NADA Charitable Foundation.
His civic contributions are equally robust. “I have supported and do support many wonderful organizations that do amazing work helping so many,” Underriner said. One of his most meaningful achievements is being selected to serve on the board of trustees for the Montana Healthcare Foundation in Bozeman. “The foundation researches and gives grants to very vulnerable Montanans to improve healthcare,” he said. “It is very satisfying to know that I am helping Montanans live better and healthier lives.”
Underriner is also proud of giving away at least two vehicles a year to needy families. “We work with the United Way to identify deserving families,” he said. “My employees pick the family and donate their time to work on refurbishing the vehicles, while I pay for all of the supplies needed. Every department gets involved and the pride our employees feel is tremendous.”
Currently, Underriner is a member of the United Way’s Tocqueville Society Big Sky Club; on the board of the American Cancer Society Great West Division; former chairman of Graduation Matters Billings (working to improve graduation rates); and on the board of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. He has also served the United Way of Yellowstone County; St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation in Billings; Billings Chamber of Commerce; and the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, which he chaired in 2001, 2002 and 2003. “I energized the Relay for Life from making around $30,000 a year to making more than $1 million in the three years I chaired the event,” he said.
He also supports Yellowstone Art Museum (Billings); ZooMontana (Billings); Montana State University (Bozeman); Rocky Mountain College (Billings); Alberta Bair Theater (Billings); Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale; Ronald McDonald House Charities; Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley (aiding homeless families in Billings); Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch (for troubled youth in Billings); and Camp Mak-A-Dream (Montana experience for cancer patients and their families).
While Underriner has been recognized on numerous occasions for his community service, his most meaningful honor was receiving the 2008 St. George National Award from the American Cancer Society. “My father died from the disease, my son has had a bone marrow transplant and my brother has had cancer,” he said. “This award means so much to me because I was recognized nationally for my work in helping fight this hideous disease that has touched so many of us.”
Underriner was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Bruce Knudsen, executive vice president of the Montana Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Mary, have two children.