Source: The News-Enterprise
ISSUE: National recognition for community service
OUR VIEW: Car dealer and associates earned honor
When a local resident wins a national award, it is a big deal for the community.
It often confirms what others already know, but may take for granted. In the case of Carl Swope, his recent recognition as 2017 Time Dealer of the Year affirms that he believes in giving back — to the automobile industry and to his community.
At the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention & Exposition in New Orleans last week, Swope was selected for the highest honor from a select group of dealers nominated from across the country.
Sponsored by Time magazine in association with Ally Financial, and in cooperation with NADA, it is one of the automobile industry’s most prestigious and highly coveted honors. Recipients are among the nation’s most successful auto dealers and also demonstrate a long-standing commitment to community service.
Some winners might pat himself on the back and stick his chest out to let people see the look-what-I-accomplished mentality, but not Carl Swope. Without hesitation, he gives all the credit his team of associates.
“I’m so proud of my team at the stores,” Swope said. “They won the award.”
Swope, 59, was chosen to represent the Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association in the national competition – one of only 49 auto dealers from 16,000 nationwide – nominated for the 48th annual award. A panel of faculty members from the Tauber Institute for Global Operations at the University of Michigan selects one finalist from each of the four NADA regions and single national Dealer of the Year.
A 1975 graduate of Elizabethtown High School, Swope earned a B.S. in business administration from Indiana University in Bloomington in 1978. Today, he oversees six dealerships representing nine brands in Elizabethtown and Radcliff.
“In 1986, my father and uncle gave me the opportunity to purchase what was then a single rooftop, dual dealership with 50 employees,” he said. “It has been most rewarding to see that grow to nearly 300 associates that provide for their families as part of the Swope Family of Dealerships.”
Since the early days of his career, Swope has supported a range of civic activities, from helping families at nearby Fort Knox to raising money to restore the historic downtown district. He recently has engaged his general managers to serve on leadership boards of area charities and inspired his associates to volunteer and give back to the community.
“I have realized how powerful a force our dealerships can be if I encourage and support all of our leadership and associates to get involved,” he said. “Together, we are making Elizabethtown and the central Kentucky region a better place.”
Swope currently serves on the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President’s Circle, the Knox Regional Development Alliance, Lincoln Heritage Council for the Boy Scouts of America, Elizabethtown Tourism Commission, Elizabethtown Airport Board and Hardin Memorial Health Foundation.
In the early 1990s, Swope helped establish the local affiliate for Habitat for Humanity and the statewide Kentucky Habitat. He remains active with the organization on the state and local level.
“It is very apparent to us and to our community how important a locally owned and community-engaged car dealership can be,” Swope said. “My associates are building a legacy that honors the founders of our company and will propel us into the next generation of Swopes who are already engaging in our business.”
It is apparent because Carl Swope, his family and his staff make it so.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.