Dealers give vans to kids groups Arizona auto dealers showed their charitable spirit by donating vehicles to non-profit organizations.

Passenger vans, cargo vans and trucks went to the Valley of the Sun Boys & Girls Club, Homeward Bound, the Grand Canyon Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Home Base, Valley of the Sun YMCA and East Valley Crisis Center.

"Charitable giving on the part of Arizona auto dealers is at an all-time high," says Bill Gruwell, chairman of the Valley Automobile Dealers Association.

Advantage dealerships of Houston honored for retail excellence Advantage BMW and Advantage Volkswagen of Houston were honored by their respective franchises.

Advantage BMW received the Center of Excellence Award from BMW of North America. Advantage Volkswagen was bestowed with Volkswagen of America's Wolfsburg Dealer Recognition Award.

The BMW award honors the top 45 BMW centers in the country in terms of customer care performance and dedication to brand values. The Wolfsburg Award is presented to 38 VW dealerships that excel in customer care, sales and best practices.

"While customer satisfaction is our greatest honor, recognition by our parent companies confirms our position of excellence," says Pete DeLongchamps, president of the dealerships.

He brings worth to chairmanship Worth Richard "Rick" Williamson is new chairman of Mazda North America Operations' National Dealer Advisory Council (NDAC).

Mr. Williamson, president and general manager of Williamson Mazda in Lumberton, N.C., is a 20-year Mazda dealer who has earned Mazda's President's Award of Honor numerous times and is a member of the company's prestigious President's Club. Mr. Williamson, who was previously vice chairman of the dealership council, will serve a one-year term.

"I can't think of a better, more qualified or more capable dealer to lead the NDAC than Rick Williamson," says Richard Beattie, president and CEO of MNAO and co-chairman of the NDAC.

Dealer's aspiration becomes a reality Jeffrey Penn is the new Mercedes-Benz dealer in Annapolis, MD, taking over from longtime Mercedes retailer George Benson.

The dealership, formerly known as Benson Motor Cars, now is called Mercedes-Benz of Annapolis. It is part of Annapolis Motors.

"I have always aspired to take a leadership position in an auto enterprise," says Mr. Penn. "It is now especially gratifying to achieve this goal and become part of an organization such as the Mercedes-Benz retail network."

Most recently, Mr. Penn served as director of sales, service and parts for the Atlantic Automotive Corp in Owings Mills, MD, where he was responsible for five Saturn facilities with a total of $150 million in sales.

Florida Mitsubishi dealer wins JM Family award Ted Johnson, owner and general manager of Ft. Lauderdale Mitsubishi, is the first automobile dealer to receive JM Family Enterprises' African-American Achiever annual award.

Mr. Johnson was one of eight South Florida community leaders honored at the eighth annual awards ceremony.

Under Mr. Johnson's leadership, Ft. Lauderdale Mitsubishi has grown into one of the most profitable Mitsubishi dealerships in the country, ranking in the top 15% in sales nationally