By Alice Ortiz
AMORY – Larry Clark, the owner of Larry Clark Chevrolet Buick Cadillac GMC, has been nominated for the 2014 Time magazine “Dealer of the Year Award.”
The 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.
Clark, 58, was nominated for the Time dealer of the Year Award by William E. Lehman, president of the Mississippi Automobile Dealers Assoc-iation.
Clark was chosen to represent the Mississippi Automobile Dealers Assoc-iation in the national competition and is one of only 57 auto dealers from 17,000 nationwide nominated for the 45th annual award, which will be held on Jan. 25 in New Orleans.
“I am honored that the MADA nominated me,” Clark said. “I don’t feel I am any different than other dealers. Most car dealers help support schools and are involved in the community.”
Clark said he liked being in a small town and knowing most of the customers personally. He said many of them are repeat customers.
“Most dealers want stores in metro areas and I understand that,” he said. “But I enjoy being in a smaller market and knowing the customers on a first-name basis.”
Clark grew up in West Point and began working at his father’s dealership. He also developed his management skills at other dealerships in Mississippi before purchasing a closed General Motors store in Amory in 1991.
His two sons, daughter and brother help run that dealership and Clark Ford.
“I purchased a closed GM dealership with limited resources and slowly built a family business,” Clark said. “And having my family involved in the day-to-day operations is most rewarding.”
Clark also has also been appointed by two Mississippi governors to chair the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission. He was named Monroe County Business Person of the Year in 2005 and serves on the Monroe County Economic Development Board, which was created through the chamber of commerce in 2013.
Clark also serves on the Gilmore Foundation’s board of directors, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the area through grant allocations.
In addition, his employees jumped into action after an EF5 tornado hit Smithville and destroyed the school in 2011 by spearheading a golf tournament and auction fundraiser to pay school expenses not covered by insurance, such as buying uniforms for the band, sports teams and cheerleaders.
“Our dealership employees gave time and money to make this happen. We are not perfect, but we care for our community,” Clark said.