Celebrating diversity at the Urban Wheel Awards

Randi Payton, Decisive Media CEO, with Dave Zuchowski, new Hyundai Motor America CEO, at the Urban Wheel Awards. Photo credit: ARLENA SAWYERS

DETROIT -- On Monday the auto industry gets down to business at the North American International Auto Show here.

But on Sunday night it partied with the purpose of celebrating diversity and raising money to help educate young people at the 18th Annual Urban Wheel Awards Show.

Dealers, suppliers and at least one auto company were honored for their contributions and commitment to diversity, followed by an evening of music, dancing, dining and networking.

Toyota was named the 2014 Company of the Year.

The event is sponsored by Decisive Media, a publisher of online and print multicultural publications.

Proceeds from the event support the Emerging Diversity Education Fund, which provides internships, scholarships and mentoring to students pursuing careers in communications and the auto industry.

Among the presenters were Damon Lester, president of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers, and David Westcott, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Accepting the award for Toyota was Jim Colon, vice president, African-American Business Strategy for North America.

Among the other auto executives in attendance were Dave Zuchowski, newly minted CEO of Hyundai Motor America.

Zuchowski, who took over the reins of Hyundai on Jan. 1, gave the event's CEO welcome address and his first speech as the company's top executive.

He said traditional markets are shrinking and disappearing and new, more diverse market segments are emerging.

"So events like this are important," said Zuchowski. "Diversity and inclusion is one of my key objectives at Hyundai."

Three dealers, each a member of a different minority group, were honored as recipients of the 2014 Urban Dealer of the Year. They are:

• Manuel Gonzalez, president of Sterling Auto Group in Bryan, Texas. Gonzalez, who is Hispanic, opened his first dealership in 1992.

• Dorian Boyland, CEO of Boyland Auto Group in Orlando, Fla., the fourth-largest African-American-owned dealership group in the United States, according to Black Enterprise, a business publication targeted to the African- Americans.

• Rahim Hassanally, dealer principal of Momentum Auto Group in Fairfield, Calif. Hassanally, who is Asian, was among the dealers and dealership managers recognized last year by Automotive News as a "40 under 40" rising star in retail automotive.

Receiving the Urban Wheel 2014 Pioneer of the Year Award was Leon Richardson, CEO of ChemicoMays, an industrial chemical company in Southfield, Mich.

Also honored were Nu Tek Steel, named African- American Supplier of the Year; Ideal Group, named Hispanic Supplier of the Year; and NYX Inc., Asian Supplier of the Year.

You can reach Arlena Sawyers at asawyers@crain.com

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