By Jeff D’Alessio, The News-Enterprise
Of all the congratulatory pats on the back, hugs, texts and phone calls Carl Swope received following Friday’s announcement naming him the 2017 Time Dealer of the Year, nothing compared to the call he received during the whirlwind aftermath following his selection in New Orleans.
Calling was his father, Bill, who had watched the ceremony at the 100th annual National Automobile Dealers Association Convention & Exposition through Facebook Live.
“After the announcement, you’re taken into a green room and my phone was blowing up,” Swope said.
And then he noticed a call from his father.
“That was the pinnacle moment of it all,” he said. “It was a very special feeling.”
Swope, 59, president and CEO of the Swope Family of Dealerships, said the national recognition “was surreal.”
“I sent a text this morning to my team down here that I had a dream that I had won the Time Dealer of the Year and then I woke up,” he said Saturday. “It’s just been incredible.”
Joined by about 20 members of his family, friends and the Swope leadership team in New Orleans, Swope arrived Thursday as one of 49 nominees from across the country for one of the automobile industry’s most coveted honors.
All nominees were introduced and brought onto stage Friday.
“Each one of us up there thought it was the other guy who would win,” Swope said.
Four finalists were then named, and when Keith Kocourek of Kocourek Chevrolet in Wausau, Wisconsin, was tabbed as the Midwest Regional winner, Swope thought he was out of the running. Instead, he discovered he was in the Southeast Region and was that area’s winner.
From there, he was selected Dealer of the Year.
“I thought to be one of 49 was remarkable,” said Swope, president of Swope Toyota in Elizabethtown.
It was announced in December that Swope, who oversees six dealerships representing nine brands in Elizabethtown and Radcliff, was the nominee for the Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association. Recipients are not only among the nation’s most successful auto dealers, but also demonstrate a long-standing commitment to community service.
Swope’s nomination is one of a long line for the award for his family. His father, brother, Dick, and uncle, Sam, all had been award nominees.
An Elizabethtown High School graduate, Swope has been a longtime supporter of numerous community organizations, including United Way of Central Kentucky and Habitat for Humanity. He also serves on the Hardin Memorial Hospital Foundation board.
Swope also was surprised at the event by business partners Kevin Addington and Ben LaRue, who flew to the convention.
“I had no idea they were coming,” he said. “I was able to share this with a lot of very special people.”
The Dealer of the Year award is sponsored by Time in association with Ally Financial and in cooperation with NADA.