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Diers nominated for Dealer of the Year

By Tammy Real-McKeighan/Fremont Tribune
Friday, Jan 30, 2009 - 11:05:38 am CST
Charles H. Diers can thank his granddad for helping steer him into the car business.The Fremont man was only8 years old when he sat on a pillow on his grandfather’s lap and “drove” a Model A pickup.“I remember it so vividly,” Diers said. “I couldn’t shift the gears or push the clutch or the brake, but he’d let me steer ��” and most of the time it went down the road.”It was a good time for both generations.“He was having as much fun as I was,” Diers said.If only grandpa could see him now.Today, Diers ��” whose career in the car business spans 50 years ��” is president of the Diers Ford Lincoln Mercury dealership in Fremont. And on Jan. 24, he was honored for his nomination for the 2009 TIME Magazine Dealer of the Year award.Diers, 71, was chosen to represent the Nebraska New Car and Truck Dealers Association in the national competition ��” one of only 49 automobile dealers, from more than 19,500 nationwide, nominated for the 40th annual award.Recipients are among the nation’s most successful auto dealers, but they also must demonstrate a long-standing commitment to effective community service, stated a TIME Magazine press release.Loy Todd, NADA’s president and general counsel, nominated Diers.Why Diers?“Anybody who knows Charlie, knows why he was nominated,” Todd said. “He’s been an outstanding dealer for many years and a generous contributor of his time and resources to the community. That’s what qualified him for selection.”Diers and other nominees were honored at a reception in New Orleans and recognized during an award ceremony at which Ford Motor Company President Alan Mulally was keynote speaker. Diers didn’t get to hear former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton speak Monday during the auto dealers conference.But Diers, the only dealer representing Nebraska, is pleased with his nomination.“It’s very nice to be nominated by your peers,” he said.A third-generation car dealer, Diers grew up on a farm.“The land is in my blood,” he said. “But my passion is the car business.”Diers roots in the car business go deep.“In 1938, with the help of my grandfather, my father and uncle purchased the Ford dealership in Fremont, and Diers Motor Co., was established,” he said.His father and uncle adapted quickly to the automobile business, and, in 1942, they bought a second dealership in Grand Island, which his father chose to run.After four years at Creighton University, Diers began selling cars in 1959.Then in 1964, three years after his uncle sold the Fremont dealership, “My father mortgaged the family farm and helped me buy back the Ford dealership in our hometown,” he said.That year, at age 26, Diers became the youngest Ford dealer in the United States.In 1993, he earned the customer-nominated Good Housekeeping Automotive Dealership Service Excellence Award for “care, integrity and knowledge.”He called that the “highlight of his automotive career.”Diers stresses the customer in his car business philosophy.“It’s a lot of fun when you sell a vehicle, but I think it’s very important that it also needs to be fun for the customer. We can’t be the only one who wins. The customer has to win, too,” he said. “We try to do that in our process ... You try to make the process easier ��” that they’re as excited when they leave with a vehicle as we are.”Diers pays tribute to his family. He and his wife, Mary Lou, live in Fremont. They have four children, Suzanne, Maggie, Chuck and Michael and eight grandchildren. He also commends the company’s 50 employees ��” some of which have worked there for 30 years ��” and the customers.Besides being lauded for his business accomplishments, Diers likewise was honored for his community work. TIME recognized Diers for “serving on countless boards and committees ��” supporting a host of religious, educational and civic causes.”Diers was on the board of directors of the Fremont Family YMCA for 29 years and also was a past board president.“I enjoyed my time very much on the YMCA board,” he said. “It’s a tremendous organization and I think it still is today one of the finest YMCAs in the country.”Participation in Omaha for the Muscular Dystrophy telethon took on a personal note ��” an employee had a son with MD.Diers also was on the board of directors for Midland Lutheran College in Fremont for 12 years and served a chairman of the institutional advancement committee.In 1999, Diers donated 20 acres of land in Fremont for the building of the new St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.Four years ago, when Darryl Hazel, senior vice president of Ford Motor Company, came to Fremont, Diers would take him on a field trip of sorts.“I want to show you what being in the Ford business has helped me do in my community,” he said.Diers took Hazel to the church. Hazel was in awe, he said.Contentment can be heard in Diers voice as he recalls his career.“It’s been a very rewarding business in more ways than one,” he said.