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"Using this business as a tool to help other people that are less fortunate is the most rewarding aspect of my retail automotive career"
“Using this business as a tool to help other people that are less fortunate is the most rewarding aspect of my retail automotive career,” nominee Anderson said.
A 1989 graduate of Grand Island Senior High School in Grand Island, Nebraska, Anderson was a standout athlete and captain of the all-state football team. He earned a degree in criminal justice from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln in 1993, where he also excelled in football and was named an All-Big Eight linebacker. Following college, he briefly played for the NFL’s New York Jets and NFL Europe’s Amsterdam Admirals before returning home to his family’s auto group in 1995.
“I believe that my experience on great sports teams helped me to realize the value of having a great team in business,” he said of his journey on the field and off. His father, Roger, founded Anderson Auto Group in Wyoming in 1981, later expanding to Nebraska and opening a Ford dealership in Grand Island in 1986. Anderson started working in his father’s dealership in the eighth grade, first as a janitor and later in the detail and parts departments, earning enough money to pay for his first vehicle.
“From a young age, my dad taught me the value of work and even though I was his son, I would have to earn my way into management if that is what I wanted to do,” he said.
After his football career ended, Anderson started selling cars at Anderson Ford of Lincoln, moving up through the ranks to management positions and eventually purchasing the business from his father in 2008. Today, Anderson oversees six dealerships in Nebraska and Missouri.
“I respect my father tremendously for the values he taught me, as I know that a lot of dealers struggle in passing the business off to the next generation,” Anderson said. “My dad passed away three months after the buyout, about the same time that the economy came crashing down. I realized the importance of surrounding myself with really good people. With great people on a team, you can get through anything.”
In the area of community service, Anderson founded Because People Matter, a non-profit organization, funded by Anderson Auto Group, that provides cars, auto services and even employment to people in need. The group also loans cars to missionaries for use when they return from abroad to the United States for short stays.
“Through our non-profit, we have donated 480 vehicles since 2013,” he said. “There is nothing better than handing someone keys to a vehicle when all their hope was otherwise lost. We look at this as giving someone a hand up in life versus a handout.”
Anderson is most proud of receiving the Better Business Bureau Integrity Award in 2012. “This award recognizes local businesses that are doing things the right way,” he said. “To me that is more important than anything, since your name and what you stand for means more than all the riches in the world.”
In addition, Anderson supports Hope Venture (sponsors a school in India for this international organization that helps people in need); TeamMates Mentoring Program (guides troubled youth in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming); City Impact, (empowers under-resourced communities in Lincoln); and numerous other charities.
Anderson was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Loy Todd, president and general counsel for the Nebraska New Car & Truck Dealers Association. He and his wife, Barb, have two sons Grant and Cole.