Dignified Dealer: Dan Johnson Of Lighthouse Auto Wins NIADA Dealer Award

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LAKEWOOD — Dan Johnson will be the first to tell you that his staff at LiteHouse Auto deserves the award as much as he does.

In June, Johnson won the 2023 National Quality Dealer of the Year. He was honored in Las Vegas in the closing ceremony at the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) Accelerate 2023 Convention and Expo.

Johnson is in rare air because LiteHouse Auto, located at 120 Mall Blvd., is the first independent dealership in New York state to take home the national title.

“That’s the highest honor you can win as an independent dealer,” Johnson said in a humble tone.

Johnson said the award should be called National Quality Dealership of the year. Johnson said it may prove difficult for him to volunteer if he did not have a team in place to operate the dealership. Most winners, he said, often honor their staff members as well.

“No one is up there (at the podium) pompously saying ‘I won this’,” Johnson noted. “It’s more like ‘My dealership earned this award.'”

And Johnson points out that his staff is the dealership’s backbone.

His staff includes Cindy Strong, Office Manager; Kyle Lingenfelter, Service Manager; Brett Mlacker, Sales Manager; Justin Thorp, Sales; Brad Hofert, Sales; Ryan Sandberg, Detailer; and Austin McKotch, Detailer.

Johnson said there are about 14,000 members in NIADA which represent all independent auto dealers. The award begins at the state level where each state would have its own Quality Dealer of the Year.

Because LiteHouse Auto won the New York State Quality Dealer of the Year Award, the dealership qualified to compete at the national level. The criteria to win the state award included having a good reputation, and being a business that is community-minded. To compete at the national level, Johnson said the application had to include a letter from the Lakewood Mayor, The Chautauqua County Sheriff, industry partners as well as testimonials from past customers.

Johnson first started working at LiteHouse auto in 2002 a year before Rod Weidner began the business. Weidner, Johnson recalled, used Christian symbolism to name the dealership, although Weidner changed the spelling. Johnson was promoted to general manager in 2009, and in 2013 Weidner retired, and Johnson purchased the business.

“We do our best to match the customer with the right vehicle,” Johnson said. “We make sure we pair the customer with a vehicle that’s going to be really good for their needs and in their family.”

“We are very thrilled in Lakewood, to hear LiteHouse Auto has won this award,” said Mayor Randy Holcomb.


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