TORRANCE, Calif. — F&I and Showroom magazine named Lithia Motors Inc. as its 2011 F&I Dealer of the Year. The award was presented to Steve Justice, F&I training manager, during a special ceremony on Monday, Sept. 26, at the magazine’s Industry Summit 2011.

Lithia, founded in 1946 as a Chrysler Plymouth Dodge Franchises, becomes the magazine’s 11th F&I Dealer of the Year, an award sponsored this year by Resource Automotive. The Medford, Ore.-based group, which operates 85 dealerships in the Western and Midwest United States, represents one of the nation’s largest publicly traded dealer groups.

“I think our field of F&I Pacesetters was the strongest we’ve had in a long time,” said Gregory Arroyo, executive editor of F&I and Showroom magazine. “What really stuck out to us was Steve’s support team. Not many dealer operations have the luxury of having a team devoted solely to ensuring compliance, as well as monitoring performance levels and training F&I producers.”

The dealer group’s F&I department includes 145 F&I producers, all of which Justice is responsible for monitoring and training. Additionally, the dealer group is coming off a stellar second quarter, in which revenue generated from F&I increased 32.3 percent. Average gross profit per retail unit also increased 8.9 percent to $1,000 during the quarter.

Lithia was one of seven operations named a 2011 F&I Pacesetter, or finalists for the F&I Dealer of the Year award. Other Pacesetters included Dick Hannah Dealerships, Vancouver, Wash.; Fremont Motors, Lander, Wyo.; Haddad Dealerships, Pittsfield, Mass.; International Auto – Orland Park, Tinley Park, Ill. (Part of the International Autos Group); Jenkins & Wynne, Clarksville, Tenn.; and The Suburban Collection, Troy, Mich.

In October, the magazine will profile this year’s Pacesetter field. Lithia will then grace the cover of F&I and Showroom’s November issue, when the magazine delves deeper into Lithia’s F&I department operations.