Special to The Express
MONTOURSVILLE - Blaise Alexander has been nominated for the 2012 Time Dealer of the Year Award, in recognition of his community service and industry accomplishments.
Alexander, who has nine locations for the Blaise Alexander Family Dealership, is one of 50 dealers from across the country who will be honored at the 95th annual National Automobile Dealers Association Convention and Exposition in Las Vegas on Feb. 4.
John Devlin, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Automotive Association, said a nominee is chosen from every state.
"It's very prestigious for the dealer to get the award," Devlin said. "Whether they win or not."
He said the people Alexander will compete with for the 43rd annual award will have done a lot of work in the industry and an enormous amount of charity work.
"Basically what they look for is someone who is, naturally, a car dealer, but more than anything, tends to be charitable in their town," Alexander, 63, said. "(They have to be) philanthropic, taking care of the community."
After the September flooding, Alexander got the word out that he would give out vehicles to people who did not have insurance and lost their vehicle. He said a lot of different churches and organizations suggested families that needed help.
"We didn't give a bunch away," Alexander said. "We gave away five or six."
Alexander also donated $250,000 to the YMCA to build the Y after the project stalled from a lack of money.
Every year, Alexander said they do a charity event. With his two daughters-in-law, Alexander held an event on his farm for the Children's Development Center with a special focus on airplane.
"We entertained people and asked them to donate," Alexander said.
They raised enough money to give the center a check for $117,000. When the flood happened, he gave $100,000 for flood victims. He gave another $100,000 for the STEP program.
"Those are the kinds of things we do," he said.
But his secretary, Elsie Wessner said what he does goes beyond what people hear about it. She said he reads the newspaper daily and if he sees something extraordinary, he will send out a card acknowledging what they did.
"He takes the time out and does that," Wessner said. "He's a very giving person, the whole family is. He is very deserving."
Coming from a large family is what made Alexander start donating.
"I grew up in a big family," he said. "I knew what it was to not have money. The more I gave, the more I got. It is the truth. The more we seem to do, the more charity events and more money we give away, the better our business is and the more we do as a business."
He also is inspired by knowing he has what people need.
"It's just knowing that you have it and you can afford to do it and stepping up and doing it," he said.
Alexander worked his way through college selling used cars with his father. After graduation, he worked with a dealer for 10 years before opening his own dealership.
"(This nomination) is probably the ... single biggest honor I've received in my life," he said. "It's just really big. It's something I never would have thought about 10 years ago. It really is an honor."
Devlin said that he does not think a Pennsylvanian has ever won Dealer of the Year.
"We have had a couple of finalists over the last couple dozen years, but I don't know if we ever had anyone win it," he said.
Alexander was chosen to represent the Pennsylvania Automotive Association in the national competition, one of only 50 auto dealers, from 17,000 nationwide, nominated for the 43rd annual award.
The award is sponsored by Time Magazine in association with Ally, and in cooperation with the dealers association. A panel of faculty members from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan selects one finalist from each of the four NADA regions and one national Dealer of the Year.