WASHINGTON D.C. — Jack Pohanka, a founder and former chairman of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), died May 17 at age 92.
"Jack Pohanka was a visionary who made an incredible impact on the entire automotive industry," ASE President and CEO Tim Zilke said.
"ASE would not be the organization it is today without the leadership and guidance of Jack. One of his many contributions to the success of the automotive world was to volunteer his time and provide his expertise to numerous industry organizations, including ASE.
"On behalf of everyone at ASE, we honor his memory and send our sincere condolences to the Pohanka family."
Mr. Ponanka's involvement in the auto industry through his family's company, Pohanka Automotive Group in D.C. metro area, considered one of the nation's oldest dealership groups at 111 years.
Mr. Pohanka became the company's dealer principal in 1958 after the death of his father, Frank. Today, with 17 new-vehicle stores and one non-franchised store, the company employs approximately 1,600 people in four states (Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Texas).
Mr. Pohanka joined forces in 1972 with three auto industry colleagues — George Brown of the Automobile Manufacturers Association, Henry Sorenson of Belmont Motor Clinic in California and Ed Harlow, a Washington, D.C.-area Volkswagen dealer — to set up what would become National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
This followed nearly four years of uncertainty that began in 1968 with Congressional hearings on the state of the automotive repair industry.
Mr. Pohanka was considered a pioneer in his own right as one of the first to get into dual franchising with a foreign brand (Fiat) and a domestic brand (Oldsmobile).
Mr. Pohanka also was active in the National Auto Dealers Association, including serving as that group's president in 1976.
He was also founder and first chairman of the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, which in 2018 merged with the Automotive Youth Educational Systems to become the ASE Education Foundation. It evaluates automotive programs at vocational schools.
The ASE's credo is to uphold and promote high standards of service and repair through the assessment, certification and credentialing of current and future industry professionals. The ASE Blue Seal logo identifies professionals who possess the essential knowledge and skills to perform with excellence.
There are approximately 250,000 ASE certified professionals at work in dealerships, independent shops, collision repair shops, auto parts stores, fleets, schools and colleges throughout the country.