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Nielsen Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram LLC
East Hanover, New Jersey
"The most rewarding aspect of my retail automotive career is being able to provide a great work environment for my employees, one in which they can advance and provide for their families."
“The most rewarding aspect of my retail automotive career is being able to provide a great work environment for my employees, one in which they can advance and provide for their families,” nominee Nielsen said. “I have taken great pleasure in watching many of my employees get married, have children, buy homes and even become grandparents.”
A 1975 graduate of Jefferson Township High School in Oak Ridge, New Jersey, Nielsen started as a part-time lot attendant at Jim Pittaro Chrysler in Dover, New Jersey, while he was in high school and technical school. He quickly rose through the ranks and was named general manager in 1980 and dealer principal of Dover Chrysler Plymouth by the time he was 24.
“To this day, I spend Sundays, when the dealerships are closed, alone in the building reviewing inventories and operations,” he said.
Nielsen credits hard work, loyalty to his employees, manufacturers and vendors and relationship building among his team and customers for his long-standing success. Today, his dealership group includes six locations in New Jersey representing new-car brands Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Hyundai, Jeep and Ram.
“The average tenure of my management team is 10-plus years,” he said. “We also have multiple employees that have worked with us for more than 30 years.” He believes in establishing long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships and promotes from within, while helping countless employees in times of need. In addition, he shows his appreciation by holding employee dinners and an annual holiday party with gifts and prizes, shutting down his dealerships so all could attend.
Nielsen is equally committed to advancing the automotive industry and has served two terms as chairman of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, as well as held other leadership roles for the group. “As a voice for dealers at a local, state and national level for almost 30 years, I feel I have a unique perspective to bridge gaps, strategize marketing and develop solutions to benefit dealers, manufacturers and, most importantly, customers,” he said.
And he also applies his work ethic and business acumen to causes that help his community. When a dear friend passed away after a car accident in a local hospital that wasn’t equipped to aid trauma victims, Nielsen jumped into action to raise money for Saint Clare’s Hospital in Sussex, New Jersey. “By holding golf events, raising money and making this issue front and center, we generated more than $500,000 for the Sussex campus of St. Clare’s,” he said.
Nielsen is also proud of his 12 Days of Christmas initiative, during which his dealerships donate $500 per day to a needy family for 12 days. Other organizations he supports include One Step Closer Animal Rescue or O.S.C.A.R. (Sparta, New Jersey); Sussex County Social Services food pantry (Stuff the Bus event); The Valerie Fund (provides support for children battling cancer and their families at hospitals); 200 Club of Sussex County (provides financial assistance to the families of fallen first responders); Hyundai Hope on Wheels (fighting pediatric cancer); Susan G. Komen (Race for the Cure); and March of Dimes, to name a few. He has also helped build playgrounds, held benefits for local farmers and donated cars for fundraising raffles.
Nielsen was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers.