The American International Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA) has named Wisconsin auto dealer Russell M. Darrow Jr. as the recipient of its 2023 David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is presented annually by AIADA’s Board of Directors to an industry leader whose exceptional community spirit and industry success is similar to that of the award’s namesake.
“Throughout Wisconsin, the Darrow name is synonymous with auto retailing and community involvement,” said AIADA President and CEO Cody Lusk. “At AIADA we’re grateful to call Russ a friend and proud to honor him with this lifetime achievement award. He has spent more than 50 years building his family business and improving the lives of the people around him, and he is unequivocally deserving of this tribute.”
Darrow got his start selling cars in 1960 at Heiser Ford. He bought his first dealership in 1965, becoming the youngest Chrysler-Plymouth dealer in the country at the age of 25. Now, 58 years later, he is the founder and chairman of the Russ Darrow Group, Inc., a family-owned company that operates 15 automobile dealerships, 23 franchises, a nationwide fleet and leasing company, and a used car finance company with seven Wisconsin dealership locations.
Darrow was an active member of the AIADA Board from 1980 to 2010, serving as chairman in 2009. He was one of the winners of AIADA’s and Sports Illustrated’s 1986 Imported Car Dealers of Distinction Awards. In 2003, he was awarded the AIADA National Impact Award for Excellence and in 2004 was named a finalist for AIADA National Dealer of the Year.
Just a sampling of the recognitions of his work includes being named a Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award Finalist, SME-Milwaukee’s 2001 Sales & Marketing Executive of the Year, and ARC’s annual Challenger Award winner; being inducted to the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame; and receiving the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Community Service Award and the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizens Award.
Darrow will be presented with the David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award on the evening of April 19 in Alexandria, Virginia.