Friends, family and co-workers watched as Dan Wilder Sr. received the Robert P. Mallon Dealer of the Year award at the Washington State Auto Dealers Association annual convention on May 14.
Selected by a committee of his peers, the award recognizes Wilder's contributions to the auto industry, quality dealership operations, and outstanding community service.
Wilder began his career in the automobile industry in 1966 as a parts delivery man for a Volkswagen dealer in California. In 1977, he moved to Port Angeles to buy a dealership of his own and at age 27 became the second-youngest Volkswagen dealer in the United States.
Since then, his two dealerships on Deer Park Road, Wilder Auto Center and Wilder Toyota-Scion, have grown to a staff of 100 employees.
Also in the family business are Wilder's son Dan Jr., as the general manager, and daughter Tami, as the employee and customer relations manager. Three grandchildren regularly help out by washing cars on the lot and answering phones.
Wilder has served on the Olympic Medical Center Foundation board for 20 years and has sponsored the foundation's well-known Great Olympic Duck Derby, supplying a Toyota truck to the top winner since 1989. The Wilder family also funded a modern performance stage for the Clallam County Fairgrounds several years ago.
He has been on the Independent Bible Church elder board for 28 years and actively supports the Olympic Kidney Center board, the Peninsula College Foundation, Young Life and United Way.
Gov. Mike Lowry appointed Wilder to the Peninsula College board of trustees in 1995, and he was reappointed by Gov. Gary Locke. Part of the dealership's benefit package allows employees to send their children to Peninsula College for two years with paid tuition.
"In recognition of Dan's receipt of the association's most prestigious award and to honor his belief in the importance of higher education and community support, WSADA was pleased to make a contribution in his name to Peninsula College," said Vicki Giles Fabré, WSADA executive vice president.
Wilder has been a Washington State Auto Dealers Association member for 30 years and on its board of directors for eight. He recently was elected to the executive committee and will serve as president in 2012.
Washington State Auto Dealers Association's 312 dealer members serve 75 communities in Washington and are responsible for annual sales volume in excess of $13 billion. Together, they employ more than 22,000 people with a combined payroll of more than $1 billion.
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