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The Executive Profile: What’s next for dealer and philanthropist Rita Case?

Welcome to another edition of the Executive Profile on CBT News. Recently, anchor Jim Fitzpatrick traveled to Davie, Florida, to speak with Rita Case, president and CEO of the legendary Rick Case Auto Group and the 2024 TIME Dealer of the Year.

Rita had already achieved success in the retail automotive sector prior to meeting her husband, Rick Case, in the 70s. Joining the car business at an early age, she became the founder of the first 20-store Honda group. Once married, the pair, leveraging their mutual experiences in the industry, were able to drive incredible results for the Rick Case brand, which became a prime example of both automotive excellence and community support.

After her husband passed away in September 2020 following a short struggle with cancer, Rita became the official head of the Rick Case Auto Group. Over the last three years, she has played a critical role in guiding the company through the COVID pandemic and maintaining its commitment to help others through charity and outstanding service.

At this year’s National Automobile Dealers Association Show, TIME Magazine, in partnership with Ally Financial, named Rita the 2024 TIME Dealer of the Year, one of the most coveted awards within the retail automotive sector.

Key Takeaways

1. In the years since her husband’s death, Rita has remained focused on maintaining the Rick Case Auto Group’s reputation for setting new sales records, providing excellent customer service, investing in community welfare, and developing innovative business practices. 

2. Coming from a family of automotive retailers, Rita knew from an early age that she wanted to join the car business, refusing to let herself be dissuaded from her dream despite the industry’s challenges with gender equality. She attributes her confidence to the support of her mother and fellow car dealer, Lori Manly. Rita became the first person to sell a Honda vehicle in the U.S.

3. Rita first met Rick during her efforts to found the first Honda-20 group in the U.S. Drawn to each other’s passion for the car business, the two became one of the most successful dealer couples in the industry. Rita attributes this to mutual respect and a willingness to communicate and compromise.

4. Rita hopes to keep the Rick Case Auto Group a family-owned business, explaining that she plans on leading the company well into the future. Although many of her descendants work at the company, she adds that she wants her children to have the freedom to choose for themselves.

5. While many dealership groups are struggling to find talent in the wake of the COVID pandemic, Rita confirms that the Rick Case Auto Group is so well-staffed that it has a waiting list for candidates looking to join. She attributes this to the brand’s work culture and reputation of excellence.

6. Rick Case Auto Group is a large-volume Hyundai dealer. Recently, the South Korean automaker formed a partnership with Amazon, sparking fears among retailers that they would be forced to compete with the e-commerce giant for sales. However, Rita believes the collaboration will ultimately be advantageous for the industry. Noting that Amazon is blocked from selling cars in the U.S. due to franchise regulations, she remarks that dealers will be able to use the company as a lead generation service.

7. Rita believes that there will be fewer dealers in the future, especially in rural areas. This is partly due to vehicle durability, which has improved and thus reduced the need for replacements, and the rapid consolidation seen in the retail automotive sector over the last few decades. These factors have led many dealers to realize that now is a good time to exit the business, striking while values are high and clients are in good demand. While Rita expects to see a surge in dealership buy-sell activity in the coming years, she notes that major family-owned groups will continue to grow and operate well into the future.

8. The Rick Case Auto Group remains committed to supporting charity and community welfare. Under Rita’s leadership, the company has continued to help others through programs such as the Bike for Kids initiative and supported educational programs such as the Boys & Girls Club, which ensures children graduate to the next grade in time.

"In all of these years, Rick and I working together at such an intense level in a very competitive business, the keys to our very successful relationship was mutual respect...compromise...and communication." — Rita Case

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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