Wilhelm nominated for national award
Rod Wilhelm received one of the National Automobile Dealers Association’s highest honors recently with his nomination for the 2018 TIME Dealer of the Year award.
Wilhelm, the dealer principal at Don Wilhelm Inc., a Chevrolet, Buick and GMC dealer in Jamestown, is one of 47 dealer nominees nationwide to be honored in March at the National Automobile Dealers Association’s annual Show in Las Vegas. A faculty panel from the Tauber Institute for Global Operations at the University of Michigan will select the finalists and the national dealer of the year, said Matthew Larsgaard, president and CEO of the Automobile Dealers Association of North Dakota, who nominated Wilhelm.
“Rod exemplifies the type of quality dealer that most North Dakotans enjoy,” Larsgaard said.
Wilhelm distinguished himself as a community leader and exhibited strong leadership as a board member of the Automobile Dealers Association of North Dakota for 14 years and as chairman in 2013-14, Larsgaard said. Wilhelm helped advance dealer and customer interests at the state and national level, he said.
“As a result of his exemplary service to North Dakota and his commitment to the public, Rod was selected as the North Dakota TIME Dealer of the Year,” Larsgaard said.
Wilhelm will receive the state award while he is in Las Vegas for the dealer show, Larsgaard said. He will be recognized again by at the Automobile Dealers Association of North Dakota state meeting in Fargo next September, he said.
Wilhelm, 62, said the credit for industry accomplishments also goes to his brother, Jeff, and sister, Lisa, who are partners in the family business, and to employee longevity.
The recognition for community service is just a natural thing for a dealership, he said. The community buys cars and so when churches, schools, sports, health and social events need help it is a matter of whatever the budget will allow, he said.
“We all work together,” Wilhelm said. “It’s all based on community.”
Wilhelm’s brother and dealership co-owner Daniel Wilhelm passed away from Huntington’s disease in 2012. A car and bike show was established in his name as a Huntington’s disease fundraiser, with a 5K run/ walk event added in 2016.
“It’s a nationwide cause and it’s a strong cause,” Wilhelm said.
Wilhelm graduated from Jamestown High School in 1974 and from Jamestown College, now the University of Jamestown, with a business administration degree in 1979. He is active in fraternal and nonprofit organizations and is a member of St. James Catholic Church in Jamestown.
Wilhelm’s father, Don Wilhelm, started the dealership in 1961. He was running a Bismarck dealership from 1996 to 2008 when he was also nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award in 2004.
“His qualifications are pretty similar,” Wilhelm said.
Wilhelm said he also successfully overcame personal challenges. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982.
“This was not part of my career plan,” Wilhelm said. “Through the dedication and the support of family and friends and my strong faith I was able to be successful.”
Wilhelm and his wife, Sandra, have two children, Shawn Krebsbach, Fargo, and Jeremy Wilhelm, Omaha, Neb.