TORRANCE, Calif. — On September 15, F&I and Showroom magazine named Riverside Auto Group as its 2010 F&I Dealer of the Year. The award was presented during a special ceremony at the F&I Conference and Expo at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.

Accepting the award during the Sept. 15 ceremony was Matt Dagenais, the dealer group’s head of operations. He is one of three brothers who operates the Escanaba, Mich.-based dealer group.

“For a small dealer from upper Michigan, this is quite an award,” Dagenais said as he accepted the award. “Thank you very much.”

Riverside Auto Group operates seven stores in four markets in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The group sells new and used vehicles and carries the Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, GMC, Honda, Jeep, Nissan, Toyota and Ram nameplates.

Dagenais operates Riverside along with his brothers, Tim and Paul. The brothers took the reigns of the 44-year-old operation in 2008 after the passing of their father, Robert “Papa” Dagenais, who purchased his first dealership in 1966.

“Riverside’s story embodies what the F&I Dealer of the Year truly represents,” said Gregory Arroyo, executive editor of the magazine. “It’s been able to find the fine balance between being aggressive and being customer-centric. It truly is a great story.”

The award is fitting for an operation that’s endured two very difficult years, which began with the founder’s passing in Sept. 2008 and ended with the loss of one of its dealerships through the arbitration with Chrysler.

“Yeah, there’s been some sleepless nights, but we’ve always been proactive in everything we do,” said Dagenais. “That was just something that Dad was very adamant about.”

Riverside was one of four F&I Pacesetters, or finalists for the F&I Dealer of the Year award. Other Pacesetters included Northwest Cadillac-Hummer, Shoreline, Wash., Midlands Honda, Columbia, S.C., and Suburban Collection, Troy, Mich.

To read more about the Riverside Auto Group and the other F&I Pacesetters, click here. Riverside will also grace the cover of the October issue, when the magazine delves deeper into Riverside's F&I operation.