Kahului Car Dealer Earns National Recognition
James Falk, president of Jim Falk Motors of Maui in Kahului, was recognized as the TIME Dealer of the Year for 2017. Jim Falk Motors of Maui is a Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hyundai and Nissan dealer.
The award is one of the automobile industry’s most prestigious honors and is presented to 49 of the nation’s most successful auto dealers who also demonstrate a long-standing commitment to community service.
Falk will represent the Hawaiʻi Automobile Dealers Association at the 100th annual National Automobile Dealers Association Convention & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Jan. 27, 2017.
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 during the event.
In its sixth year as exclusive sponsor, Ally will recognize dealer nominees and their community efforts by contributing $1,000 to each nominee’s 501(c)3 charity of choice. Nominees will also be recognized on AllyDealerHeroes.com, which highlights the philanthropic contributions and achievements of TIME Dealer of the Year nominees.
The announcement of this year’s nominees was made by Meredith Long, SVP : GM, News & Luxury, TIME, and Tim Russi, president of Auto Finance for Ally Financial.
“We are excited about the extraordinary group of nominees that are in the running for the 2017 TIME Dealer of the Year award,” said Russi. “These dealers have been recognized for the ways that they ‘do it right’ in their communities, and we look forward to sharing their stories over the next few months and celebrating their accomplishments at the NADA convention in January.”
“I’ve enjoyed the personal relationships that you are able to develop with your customers while living and working in the small island community of Maui,” nominee Falk said. “A day does not go by that I don’t run into someone in the showroom or out around town that has been a customer for years.”
“I started washing cars at age 14 while on summer break and began selling cars when I was 18 over the summers while attending college,” he said. His father was a car salesman when Jim was born and later owned Burlingame Ford in Burlingame, California. “I learned a great deal from my father and was asking him questions about the business for as long as I can remember.”
Falk earned a B.A. in business and economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1983.
At the age of 24 Falk had the opportunity to buy an underperforming Ford dealership on Maui. “Right away, we were able to recognize the difficulties in the operation but also the opportunities,” Falk said. He now has 14 franchises on Maui, as well as a Lexus store in Beverly Hills, California. “When I acquired the Lexus store, it was ranked 24th of the 63 dealerships in the Western Area of the United States. We are now enjoying second place position in that same area, and the Beverly Hills store is now ranked fourth in new vehicle sales volume for the entire country. The store sells between 500-700 vehicles a month.
Jim Falk Motors of Maui, which he acquired in 2003, has also reached high levels of success. “Over the last decade, our Nissan business has frequently attained the largest market share in Hawaiʻi,” he said. Adding to this success, for the past two months his team has sold the most GM vehicles in the state.
“And while Maui has grown and changed over the years, it retains a small-town feel. We’ve worked hard over the years to become an integral part of this tight-knit community. In the past 31 years that I’ve been a dealer on Maui, we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to support numerous charitable endeavors including many youth athletic programs, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and Maui Prep Academy.”
As his sales grew so did his community contributions. One of his favorite initiatives is a bicycle giveaway that he sponsors every year during the holidays. “We’re now in our sixth year of donating approximately 500 bikes and helmets to children.”
Falk went on to explain that half of the yearly bike donation is made through the Boys and Girls Clubs. The balance of the bikes are distributed through a few local churches on island, where they distinguish and recognize families and organizations that are in need of some holiday help. An example of working through local churches involved a gift to the prison ministry on Maui. Inmates are given bikes to gift to their children for Christmas, and these kids get to receive a special gift from their parent who is separated from the family at a time when that separation is most keenly felt.
Falk and the dealership remain anonymous and receive no credit for their actions. “I am truly the one who feels blessed being able to change a family’s holiday, and I only express this now in hopes it inspires other successful businesses to follow suit,” he said.
Falk has picked the Maui Preparatory Academy as his charity choice for the Alley Dealers Hero contribution. He has been working with the pre-K through 12th grade school ever since the school’s inception and his three children have attended the school since preschool. Falk, along with other community leaders and parents have been instrumental in establishing the academy’s success.
“It’s gratifying to watch the school grow into a vibrant and successful institution,” he said. Falk serves on the school’s board and has supported the school financially as well as donated to its Pueo Pilot Scholarship fund, which provides tuition for deserving and talented high school students.
Falk was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by David Rolf, executive director of the Hawaiʻi Automobile Dealers Association.