EASLEY – Thomas “Tommy” Norris, president of Toyota of Easley, has been nominated for the 2016 TIME Dealer of the Year award.
Norris is one of a select group of 50 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 99th annual National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA) Convention & Exposition in Las Vegas on April 1, 2016. The announcement of this year’s nominees was made by Meredith Long, publisher of TIME, and Tim Russi, president of Auto Finance for Ally Financial.
“The most rewarding aspect of my career has been mentoring people,” nominee Norris said. “I have had no greater satisfaction in the automobile business than to watch people grow and become successful in this business.”
The TIME Dealer of the Year award is one of the 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.
Norris, 68, was chosen to represent the South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association in the national competition for the 47th 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.
Norris graduated from Greer High School in Greer in 1965. A friend suggested that he apply for a sales position at Fairway Ford in Greenville in 1967 and he got the job. He worked as a general manager at Toyota of Greenville and back as sales manager for Fairway Ford before leaving to found Toyota of Easley in 1980.
“I can’t tell you how many people that I have seen start out in entry-level positions at Fairway Ford, Toyota of Greenville, and Toyota of Easley and then watched them work their way up through the ranks,” Norris said. “Many still work with me and some went on to hold high-ranking positions at other dealerships. Some even own their own stores now.”
Norris’ son Ryan is now a partner in running the dealership, which has won the Toyota President’s Award 26 times, according to Norris.
“It is the highest award that is given by Toyota to dealers that meet the strict criteria each year,” he said. “It speaks volumes about our wonderful associates and how they serve our customers in an exceptional way. This award is a true report card on how good of a job we are doing in taking care of our employees and our customers.”
The success of Toyota of Easley has allowed Norris to support his community in many significant ways.
“Over the past 30 years, we have given more than $1 million to different charities in our local area,” he said. “I think it is very important to give back to the people that have made us successful and have supported us.”
He donates to Pickens County Meals on Wheels; Prevent Child Abuse Pickens County; MARY’s House in Easley (emergency services and shelter for those fleeing domestic abuse) and the Dream Center of Pickens County (support and resources for families in need), to name a few.
He recently contributed $22,000 to the YMCA of Easley, Pickens and Powdersville following a dealership charity drive during which he donated $100 for each new and used car sold during the month of May each year.
“We don’t plan to stop giving any time soon,” Norris said.
Norris was nominated for the award by Sims Floyd, executive vice president of the South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association. Norris and his wife, Vickie, have two children and six grandchildren.
The South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association (SCADA) is the only statewide lobbying force in South Carolina dedicated to the economic and political interests of the owners of automobiles and the dealers of new cars and trucks.
SCADA represents new car and truck franchised Dealers across the state of South Carolina and advocates on behalf of its members in public policy, regulatory issues and economic development impacting the automotive industry. SCADA works to forge meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships between auto Dealers and their local, state and federal representatives.
SCADA also provides a wide range of publications, educational opportunities, networking and business improvement services to its Dealer members to help them excel in a dynamic and ultra-competitive business environment. SCADA started in 1937 and celebrated its 78th anniversary in 2015.