Martinsville dealer honored with TIME Dealer of the Year award

Note: Barry Nelson of Autos by Nelson in Martinsville was honored at the 2024 NADA Show in Las Vegas. This article was published in October 2023 at the time of the announcement.

October 18, 2023

Martinsville’s very own Barry Nelson, President of Autos by Nelson and Nelson Ford Mazda, has been honored with the esteemed TIME Dealer of the Year award, representing Virginia. This accolade is considered a significant honor within the auto industry, highlighting successful dealerships' operations and deep-rooted commitment to community service.

From an impressive pool of over 16,000 dealers nationwide, only 49 were nominated for this year’s 55th annual award. Nelson, chosen to represent the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, will receive this honor at the 107th National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show in Las Vegas on February 3, 2024.

A true self-made success story, Nelson began his journey in the auto industry right after graduating from George Washington Carver High School in 1975. Joining the family-owned Ford store in Basset under his father, G.R. Nelson's leadership, he mastered the intricacies of the car business by working through every position at the dealership. This hands-on experience, Nelson believes, gave him the expertise to manage and eventually spearhead their auto group.

The Nelson family name grew stronger as they expanded their reach by acquiring various franchises and stores. Today, their umbrella company, Autos by Nelson, boasts several new-car dealerships across Virginia, housing major brands such as Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Subaru, and Toyota.

Nelson says he owes his success to his team, which he calls the heart of his business. "The key to our success is our team members, who consistently strive to be better," Nelson noted. While proud of their professional accomplishments, Nelson is passionate about giving back to the community. He has coached American Legion Baseball for over 16 years, generously supports the Martinsville Community Recreation Association, and played a pivotal role in establishing the Patrick & Henry Community College (PHCC) baseball program.

His dedication to community growth also extends beyond sports. Nelson’s involvement with the Martinsville Henry County Chamber of Commerce and the Henry County Industrial Development Authority showcases his commitment to local business growth and job creation.

In recognition of his longstanding service to the community, VADA's Executive Committee selected Nelson for the prestigious award. Besides the recognition, winners of the TIME Dealer of the Year award also receive monetary rewards for charity, with Nelson receiving $10,000 to donate to a charity of his choice.

Barry and his wife, Patti, have two children and continue to be an inspiration to their community. VADA congratulates Barry on this major achievement, and we’ll all be cheering him on as he advances to Las Vegas early next year.

Left to right: Jessica Sibley, CEO of TIME; Barry Nelson, President of Autos by Nelson; Don Hall, VADA President and CEO; Doug Timmerman, Ally Interim CEO and President of Dealer Financial Services