How are CADA Laureates chosen?

March 30, 2024

The CADA Laureate program administrator sheds light on how the prestigious award winners are actually selected

Since 2005, I’ve had the privilege of being the program administrator for the CADA Laureate program on behalf of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA).

Over that time, the selection process has produced truly outstanding award winners representing the top men and women dealers in Canada’s automotive retail industry. The winners in the three categories of ambassadorship, retail operations and business innovation come from large dealership groups and single rooftop operators, and every part of the country.

I’m often asked about how the winners are chosen, and I’d like to share the details to encourage more outstanding nominees to carefully follow the process and guidelines and boost their own chances of success.

The overall guiding principle for the CADA Laureate program is the integrity and impartiality of the judging process. For starters, dealers can’t self-nominate, someone from the industry has to bring their name forward.

No one from CADA, the program administrators, the sponsor or any OEMs or dealer groups have any sway over who ultimately ends up as a Laureate. The final winners are selected by independent judges from the Ivey Business School at Western University in London, Ont.

They select one winner from a list of five finalists in each category that is provided to them. To prepare this article, we interviewed one of the judges from Ivey to get their insights into how they pick the winners.

“The team takes a rigorous and empirical approach to this. The criteria for the CADA Laureate award are very clearly laid out on the CADA website. Each one of those is integrated into the overall decision model,” said Prof. Kirk Kristofferson, Assistant Professor, Marketing, Ivey Behavioural Research Lab Director, George and Mary Turnbull Faculty Fellowship.

“We need a careful and detailed rubric to follow because you’re dealing with such amazing applications. These are the best of the best. So each of the criteria matter — and each of the criteria are evaluated.”

Those evaluation criteria are outlined at The CADA Charter is the benchmark against which the judges evaluate the official nominees.

The CADA Charter includes the National Dealer Code of Ethics and the Criteria for Dealer Excellence. That website offers detailed explanations and examples of outstanding performance in each of the three categories.

Once someone is selected as a nominee, they are asked to complete a questionnaire specific to their category that is derived from the CADA Charter.

Because the judges don’t know the applicants, and they don’t seek out any additional  information about their careers or achievements, the only thing they can assess is the material that is included as part of the nomination questionnaire.

“Usually, the margin between a winner and other finalists is extremely, extremely close,” said Prof. Kristofferson. “That’s why it’s so important that the submissions after nomination are thorough. The team here can only evaluate what we received. It’s really important not to leave anything blank, and to communicate as much detail as possible. This could be in written form as well as supplementary information, and references.”

Prof. Kristofferson says while nominees aren’t expected to submit “30 pages” for each question, they do look for details in the nominations that help them put the achievements of the nominated dealers in context. “Answer the questions thoughtfully and with detail. Anytime that there’s any sort of external comparison or validation that can be provided as support, that’s fantastic,” he said. “So it’s quite a rigorous process, and it’s a very fair and thorough process.”

I’ve also heard from some dealers who were finalists previously but who didn’t end up winning, and they feel it isn’t worthwhile to accept another nomination, thinking they just don’t have a shot. That’s not the case at all.  Again, let’s hear from one of the judges on that matter:

“As a competitive person, I absolutely understand not wanting to enter again, but truthfully, being nominated again would be one of the biggest compliments you could receive,” said Prof. Kristofferson. “If somebody doesn’t win, it could have been the smallest margin. So if I could give any feedback, please do not say no. If you’re nominated a second time, please go in again. Each year is a new year.”

One other question I’ve been asked is the ideal format to submit the application. While some nominees have created more elaborate documents, most submit only the completed questionnaire. Ultimately, the judges evaluate the substance of the content and not the manner in which it is presented.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank the exclusive sponsor of the CADA Laureate program iA Dealer Services for their unwavering support since the program launched.

For those who want to learn more about the CADA Laureate program, please visit the program website: or reach out to me via the email below and I’ll be happy to provide further information.

About Montie Foxwell

Montie Foxwell is the Managing Partner of iBEAM and has been administering the CADA Laureate Award program on behalf of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) since its inception. You can reach him at:

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