The nomination of Jeff Robberson, dealer at Robberson Ford Sales Inc. in Bend, for the 2016 TIME Dealer of the Year award was announced today by TIME.
Robberson is one of a select group of 50 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 99th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention & Exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 1. The announcement of this year’s nominees was made by Meredith Long, publisher, TIME, and Tim Russi, president of Auto Finance for Ally Financial.
“The TIME Dealer of the Year award nominees are business leaders and pillars of their communities, who have each given generously to support important charitable causes,” said Russi. “Ally is proud to honor these dealers and to recognize their commitment to making a difference.”
In its fifth 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. Robberson, 63, was chosen to represent the Oregon Auto Dealers Association in the national competition – one of only 50 auto dealers from 16,000 nationwide – nominated 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.
“Being a franchise car dealer has provided me with the resources to make a difference in our community by giving my time and money to many worthy causes,” nominee Robberson said. “We have developed a culture within our organization that encourages our employees to do the same.
A graduate of Bend High School in Bend, Robberson earned a B.S. in business administration from Oregon State University in Corvallis in 1976. While at college, he was a letterman on the Oregon State Ski Team and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
Robberson did odd jobs around his father’s dealership, which was founded in 1958, but earned other income to put himself through college.
“This was partly because my father believed I should get experience outside the family business and partly because I could earn enough money in the construction trades to pay my own way,” he said.
After college, he pursued a career in logistics and eventually rose to vice president of operations for a trucking company in Tacoma, Washington, when his father asked him to join the dealership in 1986.
“Looking back, it was the most difficult – and in retrospect the best – decision I have made,” Robberson said. “I chose to move from a leadership position in a large company to an entry-level position in my father’s small family business.”
He attended the NADA Dealer Candidate Academy in McLean, Virginia, worked in every department at the dealership and by 1990, he was general manager. Today, he has a second location in Prineville, Oregon, and his son, Miro Garaj, now works for the company as marketing and advertising manager.
Robberson’s family history is part of the fabric of Bend, and he is committed to investing and supporting the community and surrounding area. “Simply put, we at Robberson Ford ‘walk the walk’ and believe that community involvement is the rent we pay for the privilege of doing business in central Oregon,” he said.
To that end, Robberson has an annual peanut butter drive for local food banks in June in conjunction with Ford Focus on Child Hunger and donates a 40 oz. jar for anyone who comes in for an oil change.
“Our employees and customers raised nearly five tons of peanut butter to fight childhood hunger during the summer months when assisted meal programs are not available to children,” he said.
He also provides a 15-passenger van to the Boys & Girls Club of Bend so their members can access after-school programs.
Robberson is very proud that his team also got behind the United Way when he was campaign chair in 2011.
“Our kick-off date was Sept. 11,” he said. “While remaining sensitive to our national tragedy, we went forward and were able to raise a record amount that year, setting a new standard of community giving for years to come.”
A member of the Rotary Club of Bend-Mt. Bachelor and currently on the board of directors for the Bend Chamber of Commerce, Robberson lends his time and talent to various organizations. He supports St. Charles Foundation in Bend (hospital); Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation; Tour des Chutes (bike ride and run/walk to benefit St. Charles Cancer Center & Cancer Survivorship Program and the Pediatric Foundation); KIDS Center in Bend (Kids Intervention and Diagnostic Service, a child abuse intervention center); Ronald McDonald House Charities; the American Red Cross; Habitat for Humanity and more.
Robberson was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Greg Remensperger, executive vice president of the Oregon Auto Dealers Association.