BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Douglas Sweeney, dealer principal at Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC in Youngstown, has been nominated for the 2015 TIME Magazine Dealer of the Year award.
Sweeney is one of a select group of 55 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 98th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention & Exposition in San Francisco, Calif., on Jan. 23, 2015.
The announcement of this year’s nominees was made by Jed Hartman, group publisher of TIME, and Tim Russi, president of auto finance for Ally Financial.
“The dealers nominated for this award are dedicated business owners, auto lovers and, most importantly, champions for their local communities, with a willingness to give back on a grand scale,” said Russi in a news release. “Ally is proud to honor and support these dealers as they work today and tomorrow to build better places to live, work and do business.”
In its fourth 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.
Sweeney, 59, was chosen to represent the Automobile Dealers Association of Eastern Ohio in the national competition and is one of only 55 auto dealers from 17,000 nationwide nominated for the 46th 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.
“Even with the challenges of managing people in our business, or in any business, the most rewarding experience for a CEO is to watch the success stories of employees,” Sweeney said in the release. “I feel that we make a difference in the lives of all of our employees and their families and give them a chance to gain positive life experiences that they never thought they could attain.”
A 1973 graduate of Poland Seminary High School, Sweeney earned a bachelor of science degree in business management from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 1977. After college, he returned to Youngstown and the family dealership, State Chevrolet, which opened on the day Sweeney was born in 1955.
“It’s a third-generation family business,” he said. “And we’ve achieved market leadership for decades. In 2014, we received ‘3 for 3’ – earning General Motors leadership awards for Chevrolet, Buick and GMC.”
His daughter, Alexa Sweeney Blackann, is the fourth generation to work for the dealership.
Sweeney has lifelong ties to the community and is committed to giving back. “There is no question that our dealership is the premier automotive retail giver in the marketplace, whether it is for charitable work or for charitable giving,” he said. “This has been the case for generations, and I am thankful that my father and grandfather instilled the importance of civic responsibility in me.”
He is proud of his work for the United Way, where he served as campaign chair in 2008. “I felt that all of the charitable experience I had gained over the years came to fruition and prepared me for such an important community responsibility,” he said. Sweeney gave away a Buick to a lucky donor and helped raise nearly $2.8 million, the monies used to partially fund more than 25 critical local agencies.
An elder at Poland Presbyterian Church, Sweeney also serves on the board of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce, Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic and Youngstown State University Foundation, and he is on the advisory council for Akron Children’s Hospital. He has also lent his time and talent to the American Red Cross of the Mahoning Valley, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mahoning Valley, American Cancer Society golf tournament and the American Heart Association Heart Walk, to name a few.
Sweeney regularly donates to charities and team sports throughout the Mahoning Valley. He is a major benefactor of Youngstown State University, Ohio State University Athletics, Poland Presbyterian Church, Akron Children’s Hospital, Youngstown Business Incubator, Boardman Schools Athletic Complex, Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, Lupus Foundation of America, Muscular Dystrophy Association, American Cancer Society, the Ursuline Sisters, Butler Institute of American Art and many more.
“I have been involved in assisting community boards and charity fundraising for my entire career,” Sweeney said. “It is extremely rewarding to give back to a community that has given us so much.”
Sweeney was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Stephen J. Chos, executive vice president of the Automobile Dealers Association of Eastern Ohio. He and his wife, Patricia, have three daughters and four grandchildren.