Shepard wins national recognition for community service
Rockland — The nomination of Neal C. Shepard, president of Shepard Chrysler Dodge Jeep Inc. for the 2014 TIME Dealer of the Year award is announced by TIME.
Shepard is one of a select group of 57 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 97th annual National Automobile Dealers Association Convention & Exposition in New Orleans, La., Jan. 25, 2014.
The announcement of this year’s nominees was made by Jed Hartman, group publisher, Time Inc. News and Business, and Tim Russi, president of Auto Finance for Ally Financial.
“The dealers nominated for this award are community heroes, as well as economic and civic leaders, who have time and again shown their dedication to making a difference,” said Russi in a news release. “Ally is pleased to once again be supporting these dealers in their efforts to create vibrant, thriving communities.”
In its third year as exclusive sponsor, Ally will recognize dealer nominees and their community efforts by contributing $1,000 to each nominee’s charity of choice. Nominees will also be recognized on the recently launched website, AllyDealerHeroes.com, which highlights the philanthropic contributions and achievements of auto dealers across the U.S.
The TIME Dealer of the Year award is one of the automobile industry’s most prestigious and highly coveted honors. Recipients are among the nation’s most successful auto dealers who also demonstrate a long-standing commitment to community service.
Shepard, 60, was chosen to represent the Maine Automobile Dealers Association in the national competition — one of only 57 auto dealers from 17,000 nationwide — nominated for the 45th annual award. The award is sponsored by TIME in association with Ally Financial, and in cooperation with NADA. A panel of faculty members from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan will select one finalist from each of the four NADA regions and one national Dealer of the Year.
“I take pride in our many years in the business and appreciate our loyal customers who choose to do business at our family dealership,” nominee Shepard said.
A 1972 graduate of Rockland District High School, Shepard earned a degree in business from the University of Southern Maine in Portland in 1974. He started working in the family dealership as a detailer and gas pump attendant while in school and then as parts manager for the company’s Honda motorcycle dealership in 1974. In 1977, he began selling Nissan cars, trucks and Honda motorcycles before rising to general manager and eventually dealer principal. Today, he and his two brothers own Shepard Chrysler Dodge Jeep Inc. and Shepard Motors Inc., a Toyota dealership, both in Rockland. His son, nephew and two nieces also work for the company.
“The most rewarding aspect of my retail automotive career is seeing families coming back year after year,” Shepard said. “I have seen many generations of loyal customers returning to the dealership to purchase their vehicles and parts, and to have their vehicles serviced.”
Shepard is a member of the Rockland Elks Lodge and the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, where he served three terms as director. He found it rewarding to help the chamber raise money through its live and online auctions of unique experiences, services and one-of-a-kind items.
In addition, Shepard shared his expertise on the board of directors for the Mid-Coast School of Technology in Rockland from 2001 to 2004, and he regularly donates to numerous organizations throughout the year, supporting fundraisers for Rockland Rotary, Kiwanis, Little League and the high school, to name a few.
He is proud of receiving the Best of the Best of Knox County award from VillageSoup, which publishes community newspapers in the region.
“It is most meaningful to me because the awards are voted on by our local community,” Shepard said. “We strive to deliver excellent customer service in our sales, service and parts departments and we are honored that they have voted to make us number one in our area.”
Shepard was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Thomas T. Brown, president of the Maine Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Mary J., have three children and three grandchildren.