Alan Gamblin, owner of Art Gamblin Motors in Enumclaw, has received the 2021 Washington State Automobile Dealer Association’s Dealer of the Year award, making him the first awardee from the Enumclaw Plateau area in the award’s 56-year history.
Gamblin received The Robert P. Mallon Dealer of the Year award on June 15. It recognizes a dealer’s contributions to the industry, the quality of their dealership and community service.
Gamblin was “a little overwhelmed” to receive the award, he said.
“It’s a nomination from my peers, and that’s what makes it probably the greatest thing,” Gamblin said. “It was one of the few times I was a little speechless.”
This year will be Art Gamblin Motors’ 52nd year in Enumclaw, Gamblin said.
Born in Sandpoint, Idaho, Gamblin moved to Enumclaw in 1969 at 13 years old after his dad bought the Chevrolet dealership. He worked at the family business sweeping and washing cars, and sold his first car at 15.
Gamblin studied business at Brigham Young University and in 1978 returned to the dealership, where he became a partner with his father in 1985. He purchased the dealership in 1992.
Gamblin now has two sons in the business, and one is a partner in the dealership. So Gamblin Motors has become a family business – something “that’s a little bit of a dying breed in our industry,” Gamblin said.
Previous winners of the award have included dealerships in Auburn and Kent, but Gamblin is the first from the Plateau area proper.
And “I kind of feel like I’m representing the smaller dealers too,” Gamblin said. “I’m not the biggest guy by any stretch of the imagination, so it’s really nice to represent a small town, and that just doesn’t seem to happen very much.”
The award came with a $1,000 contribution in Gamblin’s honor to the Rainier Foothills Wellness Foundation. Gamblin is a former president of the foundation and currently sits on its board of directors.
The award is named for the late Robert P. Mallon, a former Tacoma dealer, who was WSADA President in 1966 and 1967. Founded in 1920, the Association’s 294 dealer members operate in 68 cities and towns across Washington and are responsible for annual sales volume totaling $18.1 billion, according to the WSADA.
“What’s interesting about our business is every day is different,” Gamblin said. “When you’re running a new car dealership you’ve got a bunch of facets: New car sales, used car sales … then you have a service department, in our case a body shop, the parts department, and we also have a small rental department as well. All these little different pieces of the business are completely different … You’ve got five or six little standalone businesses that need to learn to work together. That’s the thing that keeps you going, helps you keep focused, and helps everyone work together.”