ORLANDO, FL – Michael Alford, president of Marine Chevrolet Cadillac in Jacksonville, N.C., is named Time’s Dealer of the Year for 2013.

“I’m thrilled to be in this industry. I’m proud to be a car dealer,” Alford says here at the National Automobile Dealer Assn. convention after winning.

Alford, one of four finalists chosen from 57 nominees, is awarded a $10,000 grant to give to the charity of his choice. Perhaps as a sign of the industry’s optimism, the other three finalists also are given $5,000 grants for charity, and the remaining nominees receive $1,000 grants from Ally Financial, which sponsors the award.

The three other finalists are Dominick Carbone, director-Carbone Auto Group in Utica, NY; Sam Mansker, president-Olathe Ford Lincoln in Olathe, KS; and Bill McCurley, CEO of McCurley Integrity Dealerships, a Cadillac, Chevrolet, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Subaru dealer in Tri-Cities, WA.

Alford had no intention of entering car sales, but learned the business from his father-in-law, whose dealership he eventually purchased after working in real-estate finance.

Alford has worked to build bridges between civic, political and military organizations to welcome 83,000 new residents to Jacksonville after a Marine Corps expansion there. He also sits on the North Carolina Board of Transportation and has served on the board of the Jacksonville/Onslow Chamber of Commerce, the United Way and other organizations.

"So many dealers are heroes in their communities because of their commitment to local charitable causes, and we are proud to support the work they do," Tim Russi, president-Ally Auto Finance, says in a statement.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com