NEW ORLEANS -- Jeff Teague is the 2014 Time Dealer of the Year.
Teague, 59, was scheduled to receive the honor Saturday, Jan. 25, at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention here. He is president of Teague Auto Group in El Dorado, Ark.
Fifty-six auto dealers were nominated.
The program, sponsored by Time magazine in association with Ally Financial and in cooperation with NADA, honors franchised new-vehicle dealers for exceptional performance in their dealerships and distinguished community service. A panel of faculty members from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan selected four finalists and then a national winner.
"The only way I could afford a dealership," Teague said, "was for my father to help me purchase a distressed entity then build it up." They found one in Walnut Ridge, Ark., in 1981. "My father mortgaged everything he owned and made me a 50-50 owner in the Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealership," Teague said.
He turned the store into a thriving enterprise and eventually added Buick, Pontiac and GMC. He later sold the dealership, bought a Chevrolet store in El Dorado in 1990 and soon added Oldsmobile and Toyota. In 1999 he built a new store and brought in Ford, Lincoln and Mercury.
A pilot for 26 years, Teague has put his flying skills to work for people in need. Since 2007 he has been chairman of the South Arkansas Regional Airport Commission. He is a member of Rotary International, the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce, El Dorado Economic Development Board and Batesville (Ark.) Chamber of Commerce and is chairman of the board of Citizens Bank of Batesville.
Teague sponsors Boys & Girls Clubs teams, Arkansas Baptist Children's Homes and Family Ministries, the Main Street El Dorado MusicFest, Union County 4-H, Salvation Army and South Arkansas Historical Foundation.
The other finalists were:
• Greg Kaminsky, 41, of Toyota of El Cajon in El Cajon, Calif.
• David Luther, 57, of Luther Automotive Group in Minneapolis.
• Marisa Shockley, 49, of Shockley Honda in Frederick, Md.