As vice president of the Mahwah Board of Education, Rick DeSilva Jr. helped in the planning of bringing students and staff back to school safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DeSilva is the owner of Liberty Subaru in Emerson, N.J., and for his community stewardship during a time of crisis, TIME and Ally Financial have recognized him as the 2021 TIME Dealer of the Year.
The recognition came at the NADA Show, and TIME and Ally said DeSilva’s ongoing charitable work, especially during the challenges of the past year, earned him what they describe as the most prestigious award in the automotive dealer industry.
Ally is the exclusive sponsor of the TIME Dealer of the Year Award and will give $10,000 to the charity of DeSilva’s choice.
Ally also will donate $5,000 to each of the nonprofit organizations selected by the four finalists of the award.
Those four dealers are:
- Christine Alicandro-Karnolt of Marty’s GMC Buick, Kingston, Mass.
- Timothy Crenwelge of Crenwelge Motors, Kerrville, Texas
- Michael Molstead of Mike Molstead Motors, Charles City, Iowa
- Christina Dawkins of Co’s BMW Center, Loveland, Colo.
Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, nominated DeSilva for the award and will also select a charity recipient.
As for DeSilva, he always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and run an auto dealership. After college, DeSilva entered a management training program with Toyota Motor Sales, USA. In that program, he learned about customer service, sales, and fixed operations. He returned to the family business in 2003 to open Liberty Hyundai in Mahwah with his father and brother. The Liberty Family of Dealershipsalso includes Liberty Kia in Ramsey, N.J., and Genesis of Mahwah.
DeSilva has served on the board of trustees for the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers since 2008. He was chairman in 2017.
DeSilva’s dealership has received the Subaru Love Promise Customer & Community Commitment Award since the program’s inception. In addition to hosting annual pet adoption events, the dealership has supported groups and events such as the Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon; Special Olympics New Jersey Torch Run; Jersey Cares Coat Drive; the Valerie Fund (which aids children with cancer and blood disorders); Ramapo College Foundation; New York-New Jersey Trail Conference; and Bergen Highlands Ramsey Rotary Gift of Life.
DeSilva has worked toward educational improvements within his community. He is the first vice president of the Mahwah Board of Education, serving that group since 2012. Helping create a new STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics] center is among his activities with the group.
A faculty panel from the Tauber Institute for Global Operations at the University of Michigan chose the TIME Dealer of the Year winner and finalists. State and regional automotive trade association executives nominate dealers for the award.
Ally president of auto finance Doug Timmerman and TIME global chief revenue officer Viktoria Degtar announced DeSilva as the winner at a virtual ceremony honoring all the dealer nominees.
“America’s auto dealers have led the way, in their communities and the broader auto industry, during an incredibly challenging year,” Timmerman said. “The TIMEDealer of the Year nominees stand out for their ingenuity in business and unwavering commitment to giving back in their local communities.”