Dealers from Alabama and Maryland claim top NIADA honors

ORLANDO, Fla. - 

Independent dealers from Alabama and Maryland received two of the top national honors handed out by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association.

During NIADA’s 72nd annual Convention and Expo in Orlando, Fla., Randy Crump, president of Friendly Auto Sales in Jasper, Ala., was named the 2018 National Quality Dealer of the Year.

Krietz Auto, a family business that has quickly grown into one of the strongest operations in the NIADA Certified Pre-Owned program, has been named NIADA CPO Dealer of the Year.

The accolades were all part of the event that drew the most attendees in the history of the conference.

In a ceremony webcast live from the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort on NIADA.TV, Crump was chosen from the 13 State Quality Dealers nominated for highest honor given among NIADA’s dealer members. He is the seventh NQD from Alabama, tying Texas for the most from any state.

 NIADA National Quality Dealer candidates are judged on a variety of factors, including contributions to the automotive industry, the association and community involvement.

 This year’s winner was chosen by a selection committee comprised of some of the most distinguished names in the used-vehicle industry. The committee included:

— AFC chief operating officer Joe Keadle
— NextGear Capital senior vice president of operations Randy Dohse
— NADA senior vice president and chief operating officer Mike Stanton
— Black Book vice president and North American auction director Tim West
— ADESA president John Hammer
— NIADA Region IV vice president and 2013 National Quality Dealer Joe McCloskey of McCloskey Motors
— Elgie Bright, chairman of the Automotive Marketing Department at Northwood University

In accepting the award, Crump credited his father, John, whom he calls “Wolf,” for much of his success.

“I’m a second-generation car dealer,” Randy Crump said, “and he’s given me the knowledge, the opportunity and the work ethic that’s required in today’s business. I can’t thank you enough, Wolf.”

Crump, 52, is a true auto industry lifer, having begun his career at age 7, sweeping floors and keeping the store clean for 25 cents an hour at his father’s dealership, John Crump Toyota.

 He wound up working in the dealership’s service department until high school, detailing cars and doing oil changes, and eventually served in every one of the operation’s departments through his high school’s co-op program. At 16, he sold his first vehicle, a 1981 Toyota Tercel.

 After earning a degree in business management from Northwood University in 1990, Crump again went to work for his father as used-car manager of a Mazda store, igniting a passion for the used-vehicle business.

 That passion helped fuel his decision to go out on his own. In 1999, he opened Friendly Auto Sales, a buy-here, pay-here operation that consisted of three people — Crump, a secretary and a car washer.

 “I did all the buying and selling myself,” he recalled.

That’s no longer the case. In 2006, he was able to add a collector and a salesman. In 2008, he replaced his original building with a new facility that included a detail shop, which was later joined by a repair shop.

These days, Friendly Auto Sales has a staff of seven, including two certified technicians, a one-acre lot, average annual sales of more than $2.2 million and a town filled with loyal customers, many of whom said the staff treats them “like family.”

Crump said that family atmosphere fits his hometown of Jasper, population 14,000.

“I like being from a small town,” he said. “To me, the best thing about this community is the mom and pop-type businesses that are established here.”

As the owner of one of those businesses, Crump is deeply embedded in his community through involvement in his church and organizations like the local Boy Scout council and the Salvation Army, working with area schools on various initiatives, including a job-shadowing program, volunteer work and charitable efforts such as providing rooms for the Homeless Coalition, donating vehicles to charitable organizations and contributing to help a junior high school build a baseball field.

“I simply feel it is extremely important to give back to the community,” Crump said. “When I was in middle school, one of my reading assignments was The Diary of Anne Frank. Something she said in her diary has always stuck with me: ‘No one has ever become poor from giving.’

 “I have tried to emulate that philosophy and make it one of my guiding principles to live by.”

 In keeping with that philosophy, NextGear Capital donated an emergency response vehicle in Crump’s name to his local chapter of the American Red Cross.

This will be the sixth emergency vehicle donated to the American Red Cross through Cox Automotive. Since 2015, the company has donated more than $750,000 to the American Red Cross to support disaster relief. The vehicle will be transported to the winner’s dealership and officially donated to the local American Red Cross chapter.

“Randy and his dealership exemplify what it means to be a committed community partner and their values align with those of Cox Automotive,” Dohse said. “We recognize the dedication and support they provide within their community and hope to bolster their efforts with the donation of this important, live-saving tool to the American Red Cross.”

Each year, the American Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters around the country— from home fires and tornadoes to severe winter weather, hurricanes and floods. Members of the Disaster Responder Program, like Cox Automotive, invest in disaster relief readiness to ensure supplies, shelters and emergency vehicles are ready to respond when disaster strikes.

Crump is a member of the Alabama IADA board of directors, as well as a member of an NIADA Dealer 20 Group.

Krietz Auto named NIADA CPO Dealer of the Year

Krietz Auto, a dealership in Frederick, Md., run by Charlie and Kim Krietz and their sons, Charles and Cory, became the second winner in the award’s three-year history after Todd Hoagey of Auction Direct USA claimed the first two honors.

The award recognizes the quality of dealership operations, the vehicle certification process, the number of CPO vehicles sold and the dealer’s commitment to providing a better product and level of service to his customers and the community.

In accepting the award, Charlie Krietz, who founded Krietz Auto as an auto repair shop 35 years ago, choked up with emotion as he recalled his journey to success.

“The dream I had, the vision, going through the recession and the hardships we went through with the family ... to be here today, among a lot of great people, is incredible,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of help. ... but our hunger and desire to survive, the passion – it was there.”

When he had to pause to compose himself, Krietz apologized. “I’m a little passionate,” he explained.

While Krietz Auto has been in business 35 years and was Maryland’s nominee for the 2017 National Quality Dealer award, it was only a year and a half ago that Charles Krietz met with Mike Sims of NIADA CPO administrator Warrantech to discuss getting involved in the program.

“I got with my family and said, ‘I met a really good guy today, and I think this is going to be a really good thing for us,’" Charles Kreitz recalled. “Fast forward a year, and we’re standing here getting this award.”

Now Krietz Auto is among the top operations in NIADA CPO sales, at about 180 CPO units per month. The Krietzes certify 100 percent of their qualifying vehicle inventory and have made major investments in training their 50-member staff in CPO sales, marketing, digital merchandising and reward/recognition incentive programs.

As a result, the dealership has doubled its F&I gross margin per unit since launching CPO program.

Krietz Auto is also very involved in its community as a major contributor to local organizations and programs such as 4H scholarships, Toys for Tots and youth sports teams.

Charles Krietz invited his fellow independent dealers to get in on the CPO action.

“Hopefully, all you guys can learn all about the program,” he said. “It’s a really great program. Look into it — you’re not going to go wrong.”

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