The nomination of Paul Leader, president/dealer principal of El Cajon Ford in El Cajon for the 2015 TIME Dealer of the Year award was announced Monday by TIME.
Leader is one of a select group of 55 dealer nominees from across the country who will be honored at the 98th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention & Exposition in San Francisco, California, on January 23. The announcement of this year’s nominees was made by Jed Hartman, group publisher, worldwide, TIME, and Tim Russi, president of Auto Finance for Ally Financial.
“The dealers nominated for this award are dedicated business owners, auto lovers and, most importantly, champions for their local communities, with a willingness to give back on a grand scale,” said Russi. “Ally is proud to honor and support these dealers as they work today and tomorrow to build better places to live, work and do business.”
“Since acquiring El Cajon Ford, I have taken great pleasure in seeing the development of the young people who have worked for me,” nominee Leader said. “We have always encouraged our employees to advance themselves in education, whether that includes additional training for their position or pursuing college degrees.”
A 1955 graduate of Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute in the city of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, Leader served in the United States Army before embarking on his automotive career at Friendly Ford in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1969. “I began as finance director and was promoted to general sales manager in 1978,” he said. He then purchased an interest in El Cajon Ford in 1980 and has served as its president ever since. His grandson is now part of the business. “We pride ourselves on having a team concept between management and employees where we work together to reach our business and personal goals,” Leader said. “We set high standards for ourselves and for our staff, which we believe helps everyone enjoy successful and fulfilling lives.” His most important civic achievement was serving as co-chairman of the initial San Diego County Salute to Education program, created to fund scholarships for high school seniors. “This program set in motion the ability of all the county’s Ford dealers to give back to the community,” Leader said. “Since its inception, Ford dealers have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to help promote students’ dreams of a higher education.”
He has worked with the El Cajon-based Home of Guiding Hands, an innovative center that provides housing and programs for adults and children with developmental disabilities, as well as sponsored various kids’ fishing tournaments to benefit underprivileged children in San Diego.
Leader is proud to have received the Ford Chairman’s Award and subsequent Ford President’s Award, which are based on customer satisfaction. “These honors signify to me the achievement of our goal to create an environment where our customers have a fantastic experience both in the purchase and service of their vehicles,” he said. “Our ultimate goal has always been to treat our customers as family.”