TIME Dealer Award Nominee 2022
TIME AND ALLY FINANCIAL HONOR POCATELLO DEALER
Kelly Hirning Wins National Recognition for Community Service
and Industry Accomplishments at NADA Show
(New York, NY, October 18, 2021) – The nomination of Kelly Hirning, dealer operator and general manager of Hirning Buick GMC in Pocatello, Idaho, for the 2022 TIME Dealer of the Year award was announced today by TIME.
Hirning is one of a select group of 47 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 105th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show in Las Vegas on March 11, 2022. The announcement of this year’s annual award was made by Viktoria Degtar, global chief revenue officer, TIME, and Doug Timmerman, president of Auto Finance for Ally Financial.
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. Hirning, 60, was chosen to represent the Idaho Automobile Dealers Association in the national competition – one of only 47 auto dealers nominated for the 53rd annual award from more than 16,000 nationwide.
“The most rewarding aspect of my career has been the interactions with my coworkers and customers,” nominee Hirning said. “Our customers are treated as guests, and we try to give them an exceptional experience in every department.”
A 1984 graduate of Idaho State University in Pocatello, Hirning earned a B.B.A. in accounting. He became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and forged a career with an international accounting firm but eventually switched gears to become general manager at the dealership his father, Art, founded in 1982.
“As a youth, I was influenced by my father who started in the automotive industry in the 1950s,” he said. “He is a ‘car guy’ in every sense of the phrase, wherein, his integrity was key to our reputation and inspired my strong work ethic today.”
While in high school, Hirning worked in the wash bay, parts department and shop in the dealership his father was managing. He became a part-time salesperson during college at the new family-owned store and learned the ins and outs of the business from a group of skilled mentors.
“The smell of motor oil in the shop and the sound of engines still makes me feel at home,” he said.
In 1991, after working as an auditor in Colorado and Arizona, he returned home for good to lead his father’s dealership as general manager. Today, Hirning is dealer operator and owns a majority of the dealership with his father retaining a stake in the business.
“I immersed myself in that role and emotionally invested in our employees, customers and the dealership’s operational processes,” he said. “I believe my background and experience in the various departments when I was younger was important in truly understanding how a dealership operates. And my background as a CPA and auditor prepared me to analyze our financial statements and focus on the areas that needed improvement.”
Hirning, who is currently on the board of the Idaho Automobile Dealers Association and has served as president (2019 to 2020) and vice president (2018 to 2019), worked with the board to help the group restructure and achieve a financial turnaround.
“We also mended several relationships with key dealers and sponsors, and our annual convention attendance has grown,” he said. “Under the administration of our executive director and our leadership, the association has refocused our legislative agenda and embarked on a growth trend that continues today.”
In addition, Hirning understands that it is the responsibility of auto retailers to support the communities where their dealerships are located. “If the automotive industry is the backbone of our American economy, then I believe locally owned automotive dealerships are the heartbeat in our communities,” he said.
To that end, he is a steadfast supporter of his alma mater, Idaho State University, where he currently serves on the leadership board for the College of Business. His company also recently endowed $25,000 to create the Hirning Family Excellence in Accounting Scholarship, which would allow financially challenged students to complete their education. And he was a contributor to the construction of the L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center on the campus.
A member of the Pocatello Rotary Club since 1991, Hirning is currently coordinating a partnership with the group and Port Harcourt Rotary Club of Nigeria to offer cataract surgeries to people in need. “Our club has raised enough funds to provide cataract surgeries for 43 indigent residents of Port Harcourt which will result in 43 individuals regaining their vision,” he said.
He also supports Idaho Business for Education; the United Way of Southeastern Idaho (funded scholarships for at-risk children to attend preschool); the Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Pocatello; and the Portneuf Greenway Foundation, which is charged with creating a network of bicycle and pedestrian trails through greater Pocatello, to name a few.
“Our dealership has allowed me the ability to support local philanthropy efforts that promote health, invest in education, reduce poverty, support our veterans, nurture the arts and give to those in need,” Hirning said. “We are blessed to give back locally, and I hope our customers know how instrumental they are in helping us make an impact.”
Dealers are nominated by the executives of state and metro dealer associations around the country. The award is sponsored by TIME in association with Ally Financial, and in cooperation with NADA. A panel of faculty members from the Tauber Institute for Global Operations at the University of Michigan will select one finalist from each of the four NADA regions and one national Dealer of the Year. Three finalists will receive $5,000 for their favorite charities and the winner will receive $10,000 to give to charity.
In its eleventh year as exclusive sponsor, Ally will also celebrate dealer nominees and their community efforts by contributing $1,000 to each nominee’s 501(c)3 charity of choice. Nominees will be recognized on AllyDealerHeroes.com, which highlights the philanthropic contributions and achievements of TIME Dealer of the Year nominees.
“It’s an incredible honor to recognize these dealers for their business accomplishments and their unwavering commitment to ‘Do It Right’ by helping others in their communities,” Timmerman said. “They are extraordinary auto leaders who care and go the extra mile to give of themselves to make their communities stronger. Ally is proud to support and celebrate their achievements.”
Hirning was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Jim Addis, vice president and executive director of the Idaho Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Kimberly, have four children.