David Mills, president of Mills Chevrolet Company, Davenport, has been nominated for the 2024 TIME Dealer of the Year award, TIME announced in a news release today, Oct. 18.
The second-generation car dealer was chosen to represent the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association in the national competition — one of only 49 auto dealers nominated for the 55th annual award from more than 16,000 nationwide.
Mr. Mills and the other nominees will be honored at the 107th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show in Las Vegas on Feb. 3, 2024. He was nominated by Bruce Anderson, president of the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association.
The TIME Dealer of the Year award is one of the automobile industry’s most prestigious and highly coveted honors. It recognizes the nation’s most successful auto dealers who also demonstrate a long-standing commitment to community service.
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.
“It is the honor of a lifetime to go to work each morning knowing that my role is impactful and that others depend on me and my team,” Mr. Mills said in the TIME release announcing his nomination. “Mills Chevrolet has a strong heritage, but we remain forward-thinking and willing to grow and adapt to the changing industry for our employees and for our customers.”
Mr. Mills continues a family tradition having followed his late father, Mailen “Bud” Mills, into the car business. His father founded Mills Chevrolet in downtown Moline in 1952.
“I was fortunate to grow up watching my father dedicate himself to building a successful dealership,” he said. “I am deeply inspired by the loyalty and devotion he demonstrated throughout his military service, his business career and in his family life.”
Mr. Mills is a 1975 graduate of Moline High School, and he attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He and his wife, Gretchen, have three adult children.
After beginning his career detailing cars in junior high, Mr. Mills became an official member of the Mills team in high school and absorbed everything he could about the business. “When I became the dealer operator in 1984, I was grateful for the experiences I had both growing up around the business and working in many positions,” he said.
Under his leadership, the longtime Moline dealership (formerly located near SouthPark Mall) was given the opportunity in 2014 to become the Quad Cities region’s flagship store. The company broke ground in 2016 on its current dealership on North Elmore Avenue in Davenport.
“Taking the leap to move and rebuild paid great dividends, and I am proud of the level of growth we have been able to achieve and strive to maintain,” he said.
The TIME award also honors Mr. Mills’ community involvement. He and his employees’ involvement in various causes has helped build Mills Chevrolet’s corporate identity as a positive, people-first business, the release said.
“We support numerous organizations, fundraisers and local first responders, and we strive to improve our community,” he said. “I feel very rewarded in the ways I have seen my area thrive and grow as my dealership has done the same.”
Mr. Mills’ philanthropic endeavors include Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Moline, where he has been a lifelong parishioner. He donated a lead gift for a capital campaign — that he chaired — for a new middle school building at Seton Catholic School.
Mr. Mills also has partnered with the HDC, which advocates for individuals with disabilities and helps them enjoy productive lives, by employing one of the group’s clients for four years. He also supports the Davenport Challenger League, a baseball league for physically and/or mentally challenged children.
To promote careers in the auto industry, he provides resources to auto trades programs in area schools. “Our contributions allow schools to have access to modern vehicle technologies, onboard operating systems and complex mechanical systems that would not have been available to students within existing school budgets,” he said.
Three finalists for the Dealer of the Year award will receive $5,000 for their favorite charities and the winner will receive $10,000 to give to charity, donated by Ally. In its 13th year as exclusive sponsor, Ally also will contribute $1,000 to each nominee’s charity of choice. The class of nominees will be recognized on AllyDealerHeroes.com.
“At TIME, we are proud to uphold the decades-long tradition of honoring automotive dealers who make a positive impact and show dedication to their communities through our TIME Dealer of the Year award,” TIME CEO Jessica Sibley said in the release.
Doug Timmerman, president of dealer financial services at Ally, said, “Auto dealers nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to not only the industry but to their respective communities through volunteerism, sponsorships and supporting charitable causes, no matter the market climate.”