Mon, October 24, 2016
The nomination of Bobby Kisselback, president of Kisselback Ford in Saint Cloud, Florida, for the 2017 TIME Dealer of the Year award was announced today by TIME.
Kisselback is one of a select group of 49 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 100th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 27, 2017. The announcement of this year’s nominees was made by Meredith Long, SVP : GM, News & Luxury, TIME, and Tim Russi, president of Auto Finance for Ally Financial.
“We are excited about the extraordinary group of nominees that are in the running for the 2017 TIME Dealer of the Year award,” said Russi. “These dealers have been recognized for the ways that they ‘do it right’ in their communities, and we look forward to sharing their stories over the next few months and celebrating their accomplishments at the NADA convention in January.”
In its sixth year as exclusive sponsor, Ally will recognize dealer nominees and their community efforts by contributing $1,000 to each nominee’s 501(c)3 charity of choice. Nominees will also be recognized on AllyDealerHeroes.com, which highlights the philanthropic contributions and achievements of TIME Dealer of the Year nominees.
The TIME Dealer of the Year award is one of the automobile industry’s most prestigious and highly coveted honors. Recipients are among the nation’s most successful auto dealers who also demonstrate a long-standing commitment to community service. Kisselback, 60, was chosen to represent the Central Florida Auto Dealers Association in the national competition – one of only 49 auto dealers from 16,000 nationwide – nominated for the 48th annual award. The award is sponsored by TIME in association with Ally Financial, and in cooperation with NADA. 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.
“I loved the car business from the very first day,” nominee Kisselback said. “The people, the activity, the pressure, what we are able to do in the community – it was and is awesome.”
A 1974 graduate of Christian Brothers Academy in Albany, New York, Kisselback earned an A.A.S. in business in 1976 from the State University of New York (SUNY) Canton in Canton, where he was on the dean’s list and was president of the student government.
He began his auto career in 1987 in a management role at Don Mealey Chevrolet in Orlando, Florida, moving to other management positions at different dealerships in Florida and Hilton Head, South Carolina, before opening Kisselback Ford in 2011. “I learned the business from Don Mealey, who was an excellent teacher and mentor,” Kisselback said. “To this day, he is helpful whenever called upon for advice.” He is also thankful to his current partners, Paul Dunkley and David Hammond, for their confidence and for helping to make Kisselback Ford a reality.
Kisselback is proud that his son, Sean, entered the dealership as the pre-owned manager two years ago. “He is dedicated to learning and to doing his job very well,” he said. “I’m happy he also loves the business.” His dealership recently won the prestigious President’s Award from Ford, which is very rewarding to Kisselback. “It is the result of a big team effort and a direct result of wonderful customer satisfaction,” he said.
Giving back to the community is a big part of the corporate culture at Kisselback’s dealership. Earlier this year, he began a program to honor a veteran each month on Facebook. “It’s an opportunity for us and our more than 7,000 Facebook followers to thank them for their service,” he said. Kisselback invites the honoree to his monthly team lunch and donates $500 in the veteran’s name to the Horses & Heroes program at McCormick Research Institute in Saint Cloud, which provides equine-assisted therapies to wounded warriors.
Kisselback’s wife, Cheryl, and his Labrador retriever, Joie, a therapy dog, also participate in special community programs. They volunteer to comfort children dealing with illness at Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando. “It is wonderful what the program, Cheryl and Joie are doing,” he said. “The therapeutic value of petting or being with Joie is extraordinary.” His wife and Joie also take part in reading programs at local schools and libraries.
Committed to educational initiatives, Kisselback, his team and customers donate school supplies each year during an annual drive for A Gift for Teaching of Osceola County. He has also served as a board member and mentor for the Education Foundation Osceola County and has sponsored college scholarships for the group. To raise funds for two local high schools, Kisselback participates in Ford’s Drive 4 UR School program, donating dollars for every test drive. And he compensates employees for their time when they serve as volunteer mentors in the Bookmark Buddies reading program at a local school.
“As a small dealership, we try hard to never say no to anyone,” Kisselback said of the many organizations he sponsors. “Our position is a little bit of help for a lot of people.”
Kisselback was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Barbara A. Miller, executive vice president of the Central Florida Auto Dealers Association. He and his wife, Cheryl, have two children and two grandchildren.