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"Helping people solve their automotive wants and needs is, of itself, quite rewarding."
“Helping people solve their automotive wants and needs is, of itself, quite rewarding,” nominee Peterson said. “I especially enjoy turning around someone’s attitude who hates car shopping and car salespeople. Once you shift their car-buying paradigm, they become customers for life and then it becomes about the relationship.”
And Peterson has forged many relationships in an automotive career that spans more than four decades. A 1978 graduate of Capital High School in Boise, he earned a B.S. in business management marketing from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in 1984. Like his father and grandfather before him, Peterson always knew he wanted to be part of the auto industry.
“I was born into the car business,” he said. “I started washing cars at an early age and worked my way up through just about every department.” In 1984, Peterson was named manager of the Jeep store in his family’s auto group, which dates back to 1923 in Idaho. Today, he oversees five dealerships and his sons, Brady and Nils, are working with him to carry on the Peterson legacy.
“The thousands of relationships I have built with customers and with our employees is very rewarding to me,” he said. “We are a fourth-generation business, and I am also blessed to work with my father and now my two sons.”
With such deep roots in the Boise area, Peterson is committed to giving back. “My stores and I are actively involved in the community, from company-formed initiatives that raise money for charity to charitable donations,” he said.
Peterson has had a lifelong association with the Boy Scouts of America and has served as assistant district commissioner, unit commissioner and varsity scout coach. “It has been so meaningful and important to be a part of building young men and preparing them to meet the challenges of the world,” he said. He has also lent his time and talent to Make-A-Wish Idaho; The Fairview Business Coalition; Filipino-American Association of Idaho; and the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce.
On the local front, he established Peterson’s Partners in Giving, donating $100 for each auto sold to a car-buyer’s charity of choice and the Back to School Appreciation Project, which allowed customers to direct the $100 to a school or specific teacher’s class for supplies. He has also raised money for the St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise and Twin Falls, Idaho, to fund mammograms for women who are under-insured or non-insured. And Peterson supplies vehicles for volunteers at the Albertsons Boise Open, a golf tournament that raises millions for charity.
Peterson, who served two years on a Mormon service mission in the Philippines and continues to serve the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also supports global initiatives. He helped organize a group project in Cape Town, South Africa, for Nelson Mandela Day of Service in 2016, painting squatters’ shacks. He also financed the remodeling of a medical clinic in the Philippines and helped establish JustServe.org in his area, which is a website that coordinates opportunities for volunteer service.
Other organizations Peterson has supported include Boise Rescue Mission; Idaho Foodbank; Idaho Humane Society; River of Life Men’s Shelter in Boise; City Light Home for Women and Children in Boise; Treasure Valley Down Syndrome Association; St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital; Salvation Army; Susan G. Komen; Toys for Tots; and many others.
Peterson was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Kevin Hanigan, vice president and executive director of the Idaho Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Cathy, have four children and 13 grandchildren.