Sand Mountain Toyota’s Mark Brickey was one of four finalists for a prestigious automobile industry award recognized at the 106th National Automobile Dealers Association Show in Dallas last month.
Brickey represented the Automobile Dealers Association of Alabama in the national competition – one of 48 auto dealers nominated from more than 16,000 nationwide – for the TIME Dealer of the Year Award.
The award recognizes the nation’s most successful dealers who demonstrate a long-standing commitment to community service.
“I knew from day one that Sand Mountain Toyota could never be the largest dealership, but I wanted it to be the best small-town dealership in America,” Brickey said. “Our goal was to create advocates as customers and provide an amazing place to work – and use our time, talents and resources to impact our community.”
In the area of community service, Brickey has been creative and reacted quickly to changing situations.
When the pandemic hit and schools were closed, he and his team provided hot lunches to all school-age children every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for six weeks until the schools could take back over the process.
“In total, the dealership provided more than 8,000 meals,” he said. “The lunches were distributed by employees via a drive-through lane set up at the store. It was a true partnership between the dealership and the community, as local churches, businesses and individuals all contributed to the effort.”
Brickey also provides a community room at his store, which features a kitchen, audio and video capabilities, and seating for 80 people, and graciously allows organizations to use the facilities free of charge. “I have worked in other industries and there is not another career where you can positively impact more people than as an automobile dealer,” he said. “This is especially true in a small town.”
Brickey and his wife Jeannie have three sons, Austin, 21, Jackson, 17, and Jeffrey, 24.
Brickey grew up in government housing projects in Tennessee and worked three jobs while attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he earned a B.S. in accounting in 1988.
He took a different route on his way to owning a car dealership and launched his career at a CPA firm that specialized in retail automotive accounting.
“That’s where I learned a valuable skill of reading and understanding a manufacturer’s dealer financial statement,” he said. “With that knowledge, I was able to advance my career in banking, but I really wanted to own a car dealership.”
After working for banks in Knoxville and Nashville, Brickey finally had the chance to realize his dream in 2006. He bought into a Toyota dealership in Boaz, and became a general manager in training. He later acquired the store and named it Sand Mountain Toyota.
“As a new dealer, I knew I needed experienced managers, and it took me making many mistakes in the hiring department before getting the right team in place that believed in my vision,” Brickey said. “After we moved into a new state-of-the-art dealership in Albertville in 2012, we picked up momentum and focused on both customer and employee retention.”
Sand Mountain Toyota is a multiple recipient of Toyota President’s Award, which is given to dealerships that excel in all facets of their operations.
“Having continuity, dependability and reliability in my management team has helped fuel our amazing growth,” he said.
A member of the Automobile Dealers Association of Alabama since 2006, Brickey currently serves as district director for the group. “I interact closely with NADA and the state association to identify issues that impact every dealer, while working to protect the interests of dealers and consumers alike,” he said.
“The automobile business is really a people business and without dedicated teammates taking care of our loyal customers the awards, recognition and impact we are able to make with our giving would be impossible,” Brickey said.
“Giving back to the community is in our company’s DNA and it is an honor to work with such a caring team on a daily basis that is always actively looking for ways to help those in need.”
To that end, Brickey’s goal is to donate 10 percent of his company’s net profits to charities, schools, ministries and in some cases to help his employees.
“We have given more than $1.2 million to local organizations over the last 10 years, including $35,000 to the Marshall Medical Centers during the construction of the new Marshall Cancer Center.”
Brickey currently serves as a member of the Southeast Toyota Dealer Council; Chairman of the board of the Foundation for Marshall Medical Centers; President of the board of the Marshall County Homeless Ministries; Snead State Community College Advisory Board; and Connect Church (trustee). He has received numerous awards for his commitment to his community, including the 2020 Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department Citizen of the Year in 2021 and the Clara Barton Humanitarian Award from the Marshall County Red Cross in 2014.
Dealers were nominated by the executives of state and metro dealer associations around the country.
A panel of faculty members from the Tauber Institute for Global Operations at the University of Michigan selectd one finalist from each of the four NADA regions and one national Dealer of the Year. Three finalists will receive $5,000 for their favorite charities and the winner will receive $10,000 to give to charity, donated by Ally Financial.
In its 12th year as exclusive sponsor, Ally also will recognize dealer nominees and their community efforts by contributing $1,000 to each nominee’s 501(c)3 charity of choice.
Nominees will be recognized on AllyDealerHeroes.com, which highlights the philanthropic contributions and achievements of TIME Dealer of the Year nominees.
Gary Rome, owner of Gary Rome Hyundai in Holyoke, MA, was selected as the 2023 TIME Dealer of the Year.
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