HUDSON — Tom Castriota, a Chevrolet dealer who is well known for his community contributions and military service as he is for his cars, has caught the attention of Time magazine.
Castriota was named the magazine's Dealer of the Year this past weekend at the 94th annual National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention & Exposition in San Francisco.
The Time Dealer of the Year award is one of the automobile industry's most prestigious and highly coveted awards for new-car dealers. Recipients are among the nation's most successful auto dealers, but they must also demonstrate a long-standing commitment to effective community service.
Castriota, 57, was chosen to represent the Tampa New Auto Dealers Association in the national competition, one of only 52 automobile dealers from 17,000 nationwide nominated for the 42nd annual award. The award is sponsored by Time in association with the Goodyear tire company, and in cooperation with the auto dealers association. A panel of faculty members from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan selects one finalist from each of the four NADA regions and one national Dealer of the Year.
"In 1993, my wife, Anita, and I came to Pasco County, Florida, to a community where we had no ties or bonds," Castriota said in a news release. "We left Pittsburgh and the security of family and stable careers, but we knew that with hard work we could make the dealership successful and this area our home."
Castriota graduated from Duquesne University in 1975, majoring in political science and history. In December 1975, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marines and spent 26 years on active and reserve duty. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2001 but was recalled to active duty, at age 53, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2006-2007. In Iraq, Castriota was assigned to the prime minister of Iraq's Operation Center and to the Iraqi training command, Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq.
Castriota also has a long and distinguished record of service in Pasco. As member, board member, past president and/or committee chair, Castriota has served or continues to serve many charitable and not-for-profit organizations: the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, Berkeley Preparatory School, the American Legion, the Marine Corps League, Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, the United Way of Pasco, the Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind, Port Richey Rotary and the Trinity Rotary club (where he is a charter member), among others. He is a two-time recipient of Rotary International's Paul Harris Fellow Award.
Much of his service has targeted education such as his work with the Pasco Education Foundation, Saint Leo University's government bond board, the University of South Florida's Stavros School of Education and the dealership staff's support of Pasco and Hernando County schools via the "Administrators in the Work Place" program; and training and guidance for the Marchman Technical Education Center.
His dealership also was named the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year in 2000. The Florida Secretary of Education awarded him the State of Florida's Education Business of the Year award for his commitment to education. "It's very humbling when you're honored by your peers," says Castriota. "I have never used my community efforts as a way to promote business; I have always felt that as a business owner, you have to give back to your community and your country."
Castriota was nominated for the Time Dealer of the Year award by Tanker Snyder, executive manager of the Tampa New Auto Dealers Association.