Rick DeSilva, Jr., from Liberty Subaru in Emerson, N.J. was named the 2021 TIME Dealer of the Year during an awards ceremony held in conjunction with NADA Show 2021. DeSilva was selected from a field of 40 dealer nominees throughout the country.
“There are so many aspects of my career that I find rewarding, but the best part is being in the grocery store or at a restaurant wearing something with a Liberty Subaru logo and having people stop me to tell me about a great experience they had buying or servicing their car with us,” DeSilva said. “For customers to have such strong, positive feelings about buying or servicing a car tells me that the extra effort we make to do things right is paying off.”
The second-generation dealer has worked hard to further the cause of education in Mahwah, the town where DeSilva grew up and currently resides. He serves on the Mahwah Board of Education since 2012 and participated in the creation of a new STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics] center.
DeSilva’s charitable efforts along with his commitment to do right by his customers, employees and community earned him the prestigious award, which is presented by TIME Magazine and sponsored by Ally Financial.
Regional finalists were Michael Molstead of Mike Molstead Motors, Inc. in Charles City, Iowa; Christine Alicandro Karnolt of Marty’s Buick GMC in Kingston, Mass.; Timothy Crenwelge of Crenwelge Motors in Kerrville, Texas; Christina Dawkins of Co’s BMW Center in Loveland, Colo.
A Family Tradition
DeSilva has a long history with Subaru. He grew up working in his family’s Subaru dealership, and interned for Subaru Distributors Corp. while earning his B.S. in marketing from Clemson University in Clemson, S.C
After college, DeSilva entered a management training program with Toyota Motor Sales, USA before he returned to the family business in 2003 to open Liberty Hyundai in Mahwah with his father and brother.
In 2008, DeSilva took over daily operations at the flagship Subaru store and oversaw the dealership’s move to a new location, as well as renovations and expansions. Today, the Liberty Family of Dealerships also includes Liberty Kia in Ramsey, N.J., and Genesis of Mahwah.
A recipient of the Subaru Love Promise Customer & Community Commitment Award since the program’s inception, DeSilva’s dealership hosts annual pet adoption events and has supported Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon; Special Olympics New Jersey Torch Run; Jersey Cares Coat Drive; the Valerie Fund (aids children with cancer and blood disorders); Ramapo College Foundation; New York-New Jersey Trail Conference; Bergen Highlands Ramsey Rotary Gift of Life; and other organizations.
Ally will give $10,000 to the charity of DeSilva’s choice. In addition, $5,000 will be donated to the nonprofit organizations selected by the four finalists and the state Automotive Trade Association Executives (ATAEs) who nominated them. Ally will also provide $1,000 to the charities of choice for all 40 nominees.
The winner and finalists were chosen by a faculty panel from the Tauber Institute for Global Operations at the University of Michigan.
DeSilva was nominated for the award by Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers.