TIME AND ALLY FINANCIAL HONOR WICHITA DEALER
Les Eck Wins National Recognition for Community Service
and Industry Accomplishments at NADA Convention
(New York, NY, October 23, 2014) – The nomination of Les Eck, president of Rusty Eck Ford in Wichita, Kansas, for the 2015 TIME Dealer of the Year award was announced today by TIME.
Eck 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, California, on January 23, 2015. The announcement of this year’s nominees was made by Jed Hartman, group publisher, worldwide, 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. “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. Eck, 62, was chosen to represent the Kansas Automobile Dealers Association in the national competition – 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.
“The ability to give back to the community is the most rewarding aspect of my retail automotive career,” nominee Eck said. “Seeing the joy in the faces of teachers, churches, veterans, charity organizers and volunteers is both motivating and inspiring.”
A 1970 graduate of Haven High School in Haven, Kansas, Eck attended Hutchinson Junior College in Hutchinson, Kansas, and Wichita State University in Wichita, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1974. “I was born into the car business,” he said of the dealership opened by his father in 1953 as Haven Ford. His dad later made several moves inside Kansas before opening Rusty Eck Ford at the same Wichita address Eck occupies today.
Eck joined the dealership in 1974 and then took over a second Kansas location his dad opened in Leavenworth. “At 22, I was the youngest car dealer in the country,” he said. “I worked in that role until 1983 when I came back to our home store.” In 1986, he left the dealership for 10 years and worked in automotive wholesale and real estate development so he would have flexibility to care for his children full-time when his personal situation changed. He returned to the dealership when his father retired and greatly expanded the business, which today includes six stores in Kansas and Missouri. Three of his children are the third generation of Ecks to join the family enterprise.
Running an iconic dealership in Wichita, which features a café, gym and movie theater for customers, Eck is deeply committed to his community and has given back in many creative ways. His Adopt-A-School initiative began in 2002 as a way to raise money for books and school supplies through a golf tournament. Today, he has added a sweepstakes that allows any non-profit organization to receive tickets, which they sell on their own and keep the money they raise. All ticket-buyers are entered into a contest to win a car from one of Eck’s dealerships, plus other prizes. “The joy in our employees’ faces when they see us making a difference is inspiring beyond what we do in these walls,” he said.
Eck is a strong supporter of education and made a huge difference for the Wichita Public
Schools when a very effective superintendent was offered a higher-paying position out of state. Eck had the idea to match the salary, and he and local businessman, Bill Hanna, organized recruiting donations and successfully negotiated to keep the superintendent in place for five years. “Schools always ask for donations to keep a winning sports coach, so why can’t our business leaders raise money to keep a great coach of 50,000 kids who can affect their futures? I’m really proud of what we were able to do for our community in that circumstance,” he said.
A major donor to projects large and small, Eck helped his old grade school design and add a new gymnasium, one of his favorite projects. He also donated funds to help complete a new campus center at Kansas Newman College in Wichita. He serves on numerous boards and supports many organizations, including the American Red Cross, Susan G. Komen, American Diabetes Association, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Toys for Tots, plus many local causes.
He has received numerous awards for his good works but is most proud of the Ford Motor Company’s Salute to Dealers award. “Only seven dealers out of 7,000 were chosen,” Eck said. “I felt it was an award for my entire team. Reaching out really does catch on and giving to the community has become part of our corporate culture.”
Eck was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Don L. McNeely, president of the Kansas Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Pamela, have five children and four grandchildren.
TIME is a global multimedia brand that reaches more than 60 million people and includes the domestic and international magazine editions, Time.com, tablet versions, mobile, social and TIME for Kids. Time.com’s network of sites draws more than 35 million unique visitors per month (August 2014 comScore).
About Ally Financial Inc.
Ally Financial Inc. is a leading automotive financial services company powered by a top direct banking franchise. Ally’s automotive services business offers a full suite of financing products and services, including new and used vehicle inventory and consumer financing, leasing, inventory insurance, commercial loans and vehicle remarketing services. Ally Bank, the company’s direct banking subsidiary and member FDIC, offers an array of deposit products, including certificates of deposit, savings accounts, money market accounts, IRA deposit products and interest checking. Ally’s Corporate Finance unit provides financing to middle-market companies across a broad range of industries.
With approximately $149.9 billion in assets as of June 30, 2014, Ally operates as a financial holding company. For more information, visit the Ally media site at http://media.ally.com or follow Ally on Twitter: @Ally.