The nomination of Jim Buzzetta, Dealer Principal at Mercedes-Benz of Huntington in Huntington, New York, for the 2020 TIME Dealer of the Year award was announced today by TIME.
Buzzetta is one of a select group of 49 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 103rd annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show in Las Vegas on February 15, 2020. The announcement of this year’s annual award was made by Susanna Schrobsdorff, chief partnerships 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. Buzzetta, 53, was chosen to represent the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association (GNYADA) in the national competition – one of only 49 auto dealers nominated for the 51st annual award from more than 16,000 nationwide.
“At Mercedes-Benz of Huntington, we take great pride in our community,” nominee Buzzetta said. “Whether it’s supporting a local business, donating to charities or sponsoring events, we always go the extra mile.”
Buzzetta earned a degree in finance from the University of Vermont in Burlington in 1988. He initially pursued a career in banking in New York City but decided to enter his family’s car business, Competition Automotive Group, in 1990. The group was founded by his father, Joe Buzzetta, a championship race car driver.
“The company was expanding, I was getting married and I decided it would be best for my future to work at our dealership,” he said.
Buzzetta first learned the accounting end of dealer operations and then had the opportunity to oversee a new acquisition Toyota dealership. “I worked extremely hard and we turned the store around from a loss to a profit,” he said. “It was a great experience as I had to run a very tight budget to make the store successful. Learning how to be analytical and watch expenses has been a great help to me throughout my career in good times and bad.”
Today, he oversees Mercedes-Benz of Huntington, and Competition Automotive Group encompasses dealerships in Huntington and St. James, New York, representing brands BMW, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru and Sprinter. Buzzetta, along with his father, brother and sister, are all partners in the family enterprise.
“The most rewarding part of my career has been the formation and growth of Mercedes-Benz of Huntington,” he said. “I was responsible for all of the initial work before we opened and since then, we have expanded three times, won multiple awards and have become a mainstay in the Huntington community.”
With such a strong connection to the area, Buzzetta supports numerous charities and foundations. “My commitment to public service is not just about helping financially; it’s also about being deeply involved and donating my time and energy,” he said.
He has served on the board of the St. Charles Hospital Foundation since 2002 and was chairman of the group for three years. Buzzetta actively participates in programs for the foundation to raise funds for the Port Jefferson, New York-based hospital, which include an annual gala, golf outing and cooking event and wine auction.
“I donate wine from my collection and ask fellow wine lovers to donate as well,” he said. “I organize the auction lots, writing ratings and descriptions for each wine as well as set opening bids. The auction is a fun and successful fundraising event for the foundation each year.”
Buzzetta is proud to have received the coveted Theodore Roosevelt Award from the St. Charles Hospital Foundation in 2010, which recognizes extraordinary volunteerism and leadership. “It’s named for the renowned former president and Long Island resident who devoted his life to public service,” he said.
Another charitable institution that Buzzetta champions is a Long Island school for pre-school children with special needs called Alternatives For Children. They serve hundreds of kids across 4 locations. Jim is a board member and his company is founding sponsor of the group’s annual Classic & Sports Car Rally. “I help plan and secure donors and sponsors for the event,” he said. “This outing is one of the organization’s main source of fundraising, and I love seeing such an amazing turnout each year.”
Other initiatives he supports on both a local and national level include: Pink Aid (helps underserved women throughout their breast cancer treatment); the Heckscher Museum of Art (Huntington); St. Johnland Nursing Center (Kings Park, New York); Huntington Arts Council; YMCA of Long Island; American Cancer Society; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; Special Olympics; National Multiple Sclerosis Society and many more.
“Whether it’s donating my time or helping financially, my community and these charities will always be extremely important to me,” Buzzetta said.
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 an additional $5,000 for their favorite charities and the winner will receive an additional $10,000 to give to charity.
In its ninth 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.
“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.”
Buzzetta was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association. Jim has three children.
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The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association is a 110-year-old trade association that represents nearly 400 franchised new car dealerships in the metro New York area, whose members collectively account for over half a million new car sales and service 9.9 million vehicles per year. New car dealers in Metro New York generate $51 billion in economic impact, support more than 71,000 jobs and contribute tens of millions of dollars to local charities. The Association works to help and inform auto consumers about the purchasing and servicing options available to them. It also promotes ongoing education and training to create job opportunities for young people interested in pursuing careers in the automotive business through its Training Center in Whitestone, Queens and is the owner of the annual New York International Auto Show, which takes place at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.