Rita Case Wins Prestigious TIME Dealer of the Year Award
Rita Case, president and CEO of Rick Case Automotive Group, the nation's largest female owned and operated automotive dealer group in America, received the 55th Annual TIME Dealer of the Year Award, one of the automotive industry's most prestigious and highest honors for a dealer. Rita is only the fifth woman to be named TIME Dealer of the Year.
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(L to R) Jessica Sibley, CEO of TIME; Ryan Case; Rita Case, TIME Dealer of the Year; Raquel Case Travaline; Greg Travaline; Doug Timmerman, Interim CEO of Ally Financial and President of Ally's Dealer Financial Services (Photo Credit: Ally Financial)
Nominated by members of the Automotive Trade Association Executives, Rita represented the Florida Automobile Dealers Association as the Florida Dealer of the Year. Rita and 49 other dealers from around the U.S. were nominated from more than 16,000 dealerships. Awarded annually since 1970, the TIME Dealer of the Year Award, in partnership with Ally and National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), recognizes the nation's most successful auto dealers who also demonstrate a long-standing commitment to community service.
"I want to thank TIME and Ally Financial for this recognition. I stand on stage with an amazing group of other dealers who all generously give of their personal time and resources to support and improve their communities. TIME Dealer of the Year is the highest honor and most prestigious recognition an auto dealer can receive from the auto industry, and I am humbled and grateful for this award," Rita said, as she received the award during the 107th Annual NADA Show in Las Vegas. "I'm proud to be proof to the next generation that the auto industry is a great business and provides support to their community. It's so much fun, and I'm hoping that all the dealers in the room will pass their dealerships on to the next generation so that we can continue to prove that the American dream is alive and well."
Jessica Sibley, CEO of TIME, and Doug Timmerman, Interim CEO of Ally Financial and President of Ally's Dealer Financial Services, announced Rita as the winner at the ceremony.
"Rita epitomizes the qualities the TIME Dealer of the Year Award was designed to recognize - a relentless determination to make this incredible industry even better and to support causes that strengthen her community," Timmerman said. "She's paved the way for women in the dealership business and found innovative ways to sell cars, while also working to provide those in need everything from housing and scholarships to healthcare and education."
Since moving Rick Case Automotive Group's headquarters to South Florida from Ohio in 1985 to open the nation's first Acura and Hyundai delerships, Rita and her husband Rick Case, who passed away from cancer in 2020, built an award-winning company that is one of America's most respected retail automotive brands, with 12 dealerships in South Florida and Atlanta. The dealerships consistently rank in top volume sales nationally and are recognized for operational excellence. The dealerships employ 1,300 dedicated associates and account for $2 billion in annual sales.
Rita didn't marry into the auto industry; she was born into it. Her parents owned a small foreign car repair shop in Santa Rosa, California and later added Honda motorcycles in 1959, the first year Honda was introduced in the United States. Rita swept floors, answered phones and polished bikes at only eight years old. Her family's dealership became the first Honda auto dealer in America in 1970, and Rita sold the Honda cars to her friends at school and after school at the dealership. With a sale price of only $1,295, great gas mileage and easy to drive, it was a great hit at high school.
Rita was promoted to manager of her parents' dealership following graduation from University of California at Davis with a degree in economics. Rita wanted to learn more about the auto industry, so she asked NADA to form the first Honda 20 group. That is where Rita and Rick first met. Rita was the youngest dealer, single and the only woman, so she knew she had to prove to the other Honda dealers she understood financials, business operations, could offer solutions and was open to ideas. The rest, as they say, is history.
"Every year for 45 years, I've come to NADA, and I've admired the TIME Dealer finalists' portraits that were displayed in the convention lobby. To see my picture there this year was a thrill," Rita said. "I am so proud to be an automobile dealer. Cars provide the freedom of mobility to my community and all of us."
A 2022 Horatio Alger Award recipient, Rita sits on the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Miami Branch Board of Directors; the Horatio Alger Association, Nova Southeastern University and Broward Workshop board; and served on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County board for 35+ years.
Commitment to the Community
Rita and Rick's impact extended beyond the showroom floor. They have had a profound influence in uplifting countless children and families in South Florida. Together, they created, developed and led fundraising initiatives that raised more than $100 million for organizations in South Florida, a legacy that Rita continues today. Her philanthropic efforts have been life-changing for residents who need a hand up.
Among the non-profits and initiatives Rita, the Case family and the company support are the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, college and vocational scholarships for deserving students, Feeding South Florida, Habitat for Humanity of Broward, Broward Health, Cleveland Clinic, Holy Cross Health, Memorial Health, Baptist Health, Huizenga Park Reimagining, Pace Center for Girls Broward, Soles4Souls' 4EveryKid initiative, United Way and Women in Distress.
In 1982, Rita and Rick launched Rick Case Bikes for Kids, which has distributed more than 100,000 new and gently used bicycles to children in need during the holidays. The couple also became involved with Soles4Souls in 2013 by providing coats and shoes to children at Boys & Girls Clubs in Broward County. Rita, along with Soles4Souls, has since founded the 4EveryKid program in Broward County and partnered with Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) Homeless Education Assistance Resource Team (HEART) to provide new name-brand athletic shoes to students facing housing instability. Since becoming the founding sponsor and chief fundraiser for 4EveryKid Broward in Spring 2022, Rita has raised nearly $500,000 for the program with many five-year commitments to secure funding for years to come. To date, nearly 7,000 Broward kids have received new athletic shoes through the initiative.
Over the past decade, Rita and Rick dedicated time, leadership, support and creativity to help the American Heart Association (AHA) achieve goals and take the organization to new heights. They laid the foundation for the annual Broward Heart Walk, enabling the AHA to give the gift of time back to so many families in the community. Thanks to a generous multi-year donation from Rita to AHA, multiple Broward County Public Schools in underserved neighborhoods will continue to receive newly upgraded CPR in Schools Training Kits™.
In 2015, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Broward, Rita launched the establishment of 'A Rick Case Habitat Community.' When complete, this Pompano Beach community of 76 homes will be the largest affordable homeownership community in the county's history.
In 2023, the Community Foundation of Broward recognized Rita as a Community Builder and celebrated the establishment of the Rita & Rick Case Family Fund during a special ceremony. The fund fuels their lifetime commitment to philanthropy and ensures support for initiatives that have the greatest impact on children, families, education and healthcare in Broward County. Rita has been involved with the Community Foundation of Broward since 2002, serving as a board member and on the strategic planning committee.
About The Rick Case Automotive Group
Founded in 1962, the Rick Case Automotive Group has been honored by Automotive News as the National All-Star Dealer and is one of the largest auto groups in America, offering Honda, Hyundai, Genesis, Ioniq, Volkswagen, Kia, Acura, Audi, Mazda, Maserati, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Honda Motorcycles and E-Z-Go golf carts. Celebrating more than 60 years in business, the Rick Case Automotive Group has 12 dealerships in Florida and Georgia. Those dealerships are known for holding national sales records, consistently ranking among the top performers in markets they serve. Rick Case Automotive Group is headquartered at 14500 W. Sunrise Blvd. in Sunrise, Florida. For more information, visit www.RickCase.com.