Dan Wilder Sr. was named 2011-2012 president of the Washington State Auto Dealers Association on May 21 at the organization’s annual convention. He previously served on the WSADA board of directors and executive committee.
Dan Wilder Sr., pictured with his wife, Sally, recently was named the 2011-2012 president of the Washington State Auto Dealers Association. Submitted photo
Wilder began his career in the automobile industry in 1966, doing parts delivery for a California Volkswagen dealer. In 1977, he bought his own dealership in Port Angeles, becoming at 27 the second youngest Volkswagen dealer in the country. Since then his two dealerships — Wilder Auto Center and Wilder Toyota-Scion — have grown to a staff of nearly 100 employees.
Former Gov. Mike Lowry appointed Wilder to the Peninsula College Board of Trustees in 1995 and he was reappointed by former Gov. Gary Locke. Wilder’s dealership benefits package allows his employees to send their children to Peninsula College for two years with paid tuition.
Wilder has served on the Olympic Medical Center Foundation board for 20 years and has sponsored the foundation’s Great Olympic Duck Derby since 1989. He has served on the Independent Bible Church elder board for 30 years and supports many organizations, including the Olympic Kidney Center Board, the Peninsula College Foundation, Young Life and United Way.
Wilder says he strives to “create an atmosphere where employees feel like family and customers are treated as we would want to be treated.” The Wilder family is integral to the business: son Dan Wilder Jr. is general manager, daughter Tami Rose is employee- and customer-relations manager, and the Wilders’ six grandchildren all have worked at times in the dealership, doing everything from washing cars on the lot to answering phones.
Founded in 1920, the Washington State Auto Dealers Association’s 300 dealer members serve 75 communities in Washington and are responsible for an annual sales volume of nearly $9 billion.