WANADA is pleased to announce that Dorothy (Dottie) Fitzgerald, president of Fitzgerald Subaru in Rockville, MD, will represent the Metropolitan Washington area as a 2018 Time Magazine Dealer of the Year.
The Time dealers are put forward by auto dealer associations across North America and are recognized at the NADA Convention, which this year is set for March 23, 2018, in Las Vegas. The Time Dealer of the Year program honors new-car dealers who are exceptionally successful as automotive retailers, industry change agents and community leaders. Fitzgerald was nominated by WANADA President John O’Donnell.
Fitzgerald has a long history in the retail auto industry in the Washington area. A 1965 graduate of Immaculate Conception Academy in DC, she attended Montgomery College before joining her brother, Jack Fitzgerald, at his new Dodge dealership as a temporary employee answering phones in 1966. “I fell in love with the business and never left,” she said.
She still works with Jack and is vice president of Fitzgerald Auto Malls, which has 12 dealerships and 16 brands in three states – Maryland, Pennsylvania and Florida. Fitzgerald has long been devoted to providing educational opportunities to those wanting to pursue an automotive career.
She co-founded the Montgomery County Students Automotive Trades Foundation (ATF) in 1978, a public/private partnership between WANADA, Montgomery County dealers and Montgomery County Public Schools. She said launching ATF is her most rewarding accomplishment.
“This nationally recognized program has been implemented in other school systems and coordinated with complementary college training, which has enhanced the spread of dealership careers,” said Fitzgerald.
She is also proud of the dealer recruitment system she created for the Fitzgerald organization in the 1960s. “Give new people a chance to demonstrate their talents and many will find careers,” Fitzgerald said. “Our headquarters office manager, hired in 1986 as a file clerk, grew into title clerk before securing her current position. Our EVP started in sales in 1989, moved to service manager, and ultimately became ‘right hand man’ to the dealer principals.
“Dealer success is based on staff success,” she said. “I’m fortunate to have recognized this early in my career.”
Fitzgerald led the effort to pass HB 1128 in the Maryland General Assembly in 2003, which provided that students pursuing career education on-site at no compensation could be covered by worker’s compensation, thereby enabling them to engage in hands-on work/study experiences growing out of such activities as being on the line with technician mentors in dealership service departments. This legislation eventually passed. Without it, businesses like dealerships would have been unable to sponsor career-ed students in hands-on work experiences.
Fitzgerald led and implemented a program at Fitzgerald Auto Mall stores to ensure that the public understands the importance of the seat belt law and the correct installation and use of child safety seats. She started the program in 1998 and has run it every year since then, substantially raising public awareness of these essential auto safety protocols in the Washington area. Since then, 48,000 plus child seats have been inspected.
She continued her career education work when she co-founded WANADA’s Auto Dealer Education Institute (ADEI) in 2006 and was the first chairman of its Auto Technician Development Program. That program works with Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College in Maryland. In Northern Virginia, ADEI works with Marshall Career Academy in Falls Church and Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria.
Fitzgerald has been a member of WANADA for 51 years and has been on the WANADA Board since 2014.
She has won numerous civic and public sector awards, including the Distinguished Service to Public Education Award from Montgomery County Public Schools. She has been co-chair of the Montgomery Country Executive’s Ball benefiting the Arts and Humanities since 2015. She has been a member of the Catholic Business Network since 1995 and was recognized with its Business Leader of the Year Award in 2003. She received the Northwood University Dealer Education Award in 1997.
Other organizations that Fitzgerald supports include the Yellow Ribbon Fund, helping injured veterans and their families while they recuperate at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center; Operation Outreach-USA, which provides teacher guides and books to elementary school students nationwide promoting literacy; the Friends of Montgomery County Animals; and the Washington Animal Rescue League.
The Time Dealer of the Year Award is sponsored by Time Magazine 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 Time Dealer of the Year.
WANADA salutes Dottie Fitzgerald for this high honor!Download Bulletin PDF