It is with sadness and a profound sense of reflection that we report the passing of our longtime leader and mentor, John J. Pohanka.
Jack Pohanka had a stellar career and was not only an automotive dealer, but an innovator, pace-setter, industry leader and a true renaissance man. Jack was beloved by all who knew him. The Pohanka Organization was founded with a single Oldsmobile Dealership in Washington D.C. by Jack's father Frank Pohanka in 1919. Jack took over the business in 1958, moving the store to Marlow Heights, MD., where it operated for many years. Since then, Jack and his son Geoff Pohanka, along with partner Scott Crabtree, have grown Pohanka Oldsmobile into the Pohanka Automotive Group, which today is comprised of 17 new car dealerships in Maryland, Virginia and Texas, employing a staff of over 1,600.
A graduate of Princeton University, Jack has been honored in his career as the TIME Magazine Dealer of the Year. In addition, Jack was the recipient of the Automotive Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Citation. More recently, he received special recognition by the Washington National Opera (WNO) at a special event honoring him at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he has been a long-time WNO leader and supporter.
Jack was a staunch proponent of professional training for dealership personnel. He founded the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) in the mid-1970s, which in-turn, established Technician Certification that set the industry benchmark for high-quality auto repair for consumers. Shortly thereafter, Jack marshaled the development of the National Automobile Technician Foundation (NATEF), which since then has evaluated and certified curricula for automotive technician training and education industry-wide.
Jack chaired the Washington Area New Automotive Dealer Association (WANADA) in the late 1960s, and also served as chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) in the mid-1970s. Jack was also chairman of the Washington Auto Show and spearheaded efforts to make the show open to the public.
Jack was extremely proud to have witnessed the celebration of the Pohanka Automotive Group's 100-Year Anniversary in 2019, which was marked by his foundation's generous contribution of over $2,000,000 to local charities, schools and organizations. Jack's legacy will be carried on by his son Geoff and other generations of the Pohanka family. His innovative ideas will be carried on by countless others throughout the entire automotive industry.