By now, the elaborate exhibit hall booths have been deconstructed, and many NADA Show 2020 attendees have taken cars and airplanes back to their dealerships and offices after traveling for the annual gathering of the National Automobile Dealers Association.
NADA 2020 chairman Rhett Ricart offered a simple message with the intention of it lasting much longer than the three-day event.
Ricart’s declaration to franchised dealerships: “You’ll be just fine.” Ricart elaborated on that point Monday as he took the reins of NADA.
“Actually, we’re going to be more than just fine,” Ricart said in a news release. “There’s something to be said of auto dealers that went through wars, recessions, depressions, oil embargoes, global economic meltdowns, OEM bankruptcies, and are still upright, standing tall and stronger than ever.
“I see our success every day in our packed service departments, where we’re working to staff the best technicians, and where customers come for warranty, recall and maintenance work,” Ricart continued. “And that will only continue. Because if you think it’s going to be easy fixing an all-electric or fully autonomous car without a tried and true service department network to back you up, you’re in a dream world.”
“NADA is here to build and protect your business, like my own 67-year-old family business in Columbus, Ohio,” Ricart went on to say. “And we are gunning our accelerator into this modern world, with an eye on advocacy, education and compassion.”
Ricart president and chief executive officer of Ricart Automotive Group also offered an equally powerful message to the rest of the auto industry, particularly newer entrants and those that have been billed as “disruptors.”
“The new players in the game aren’t ‘disruptors.’ They’re just new,” Ricart said. “The beauty of our business is that we thrive on disruption. When you think about it, dealers make their living by confronting, understanding and ultimately harnessing disruption.”
“For over 100 years, we have been turning disruption into dollars. And along the way we have shaped how Americans drive, how they travel and how they live their daily lives. And in 2020, we’re going to keep doing it,” Ricart continued. “We will meet disruption at the door. And no matter what its name is, we will answer.
“In this new decade, we will bring our customers the option to step into an electric vehicle, a gas-powered vehicle, and further in the future, we’ll even give them a driverless car,” he went on to say. “Dealers are constantly re-inventing themselves, and constantly defying the odds. Sure, there are complications out there. We know what they are, but NADA is doing something about them every day.
“The disruption will come and go. The constant is you and me, the dealers. We’re the ones who build relationships with our customers every day, mastering our markets, advancing our technology, and improving our communities. We always have, and we always will,” Ricart added.
Final message from outgoing chair
In his outgoing remarks as 2019 NADA chairman, Charlie Gilchrist thanked franchised dealers for heeding the call to become involved in NADA, saying it was instrumental to many successful initiatives throughout the year.
“Last January, I challenged all of you not to be just a part of NADA, not to be just a member of NADA, but as we faced the challenges of the coming year, that we would do this together as a team,” Gilchrist said during his Saturday keynote address at the 2020 NADA Show in Las Vegas.
From combatting the threat of broad-based auto tariffs, to working to keep new vehicles affordable while preserving the sustainability of new-car departments, to addressing the technician shortage, Gilchrist reminded dealers attending the event of the many issues that NADA confronted — on behalf of, and hand-in-hand with — franchised dealers across the United States.
“Our identity as auto dealers is unique,” Gilchrist said, according to a news release. “It means fighting for our franchise system. It means holding our ground when Washington threatens our stability, so our employees and customers have security tomorrow. And it means doing it together, because one dealer can accomplish some things, but many dealers together can accomplish anything.”
Gilchrist — president of Gilchrist Automotive, which includes Buick-Chevrolet-GMC, Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen franchises the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas — urged dealers to stay vigilant but also to prepare for a bright future for years to come.
“Every dealer has a tremendously bright future ahead,” Gilchrist said. “Don’t let others define who you are. Hold strong to your identity.
“Our industry is going through an evolution, not a revolution. There will be a wave of change, but we’ll adapt to it, and we’ll be stronger than ever,” he continued. “Despite so-called disruptions to the dealer network, and myths about mobility, we are holding strong. In 2019 we sold 17.1 million new cars and light trucks. There are over 278 million registered vehicles on America’s roads today, and that number is only growing.
“Lightning-fast technology will continue to change vehicles for years to come. But customers are still buying and owning their cars and trucks. And they’re still going to their local auto dealer to get them,” Gilchrist went on to say.
“It is clear,” he added. “If you are an auto dealer, if you work in a dealership, our imprint on America is unmistakable, our contributions are undeniable, and our potential is immeasurable. We are the auto dealers of America, and we are NADA.”
KAR Global auction raises $97,487 for NADA Foundation
For attendees who have affinity for dogs, spending a few moments at the KAR Global booth presents the chance to see some great-looking canines who serve in crucial roles.
KAR Global auctioned a VIP, all-access package to attend the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500, raising more than $10,000 for the NADA Foundation’s initiative to benefit Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Additional auction proceeds and donations raised more than $97,000 in one day.
Ben Chavez, an Army veteran and retired police sergeant, and his hearing dog, Nepal, from Tehachapi, Calif., along with six dogs and their graduates, trainers and volunteers from Canine Companions attended the auction, which was conducted by KAR Global.
Officials explained in a news release that proceeds from the auction will benefit the NADA Foundation’s Frank E. McCarthy Memorial Program, which supports CCI.
McCarthy was NADA’s chief executive from 1968 to 2001. To date, the KAR Global auctions have raised more than $586,500.
“In this ninth year of partnering with the NADA Foundation and Canine Companions for Independence, TradeRev, ADESA and the entire KAR Global family of brands remain as committed as ever to ensuring that people with disabilities can live independent lives,” KAR Global president Peter Kelly said.
“It’s because of the generous dealers who join us in outbidding each other year after year that we have been able to raise tens of thousands of dollars to provide the funding needed to train these highly skilled dogs that enhance the lives of people with disabilities,” Kelly added.
The winning bidder was Beth Hakes of Industry, Calif., who will spend Memorial Day weekend at the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. The Epic Experience package includes the VIP treatment to watch the race from “Turn One” seats, as well as airfare and luxury accommodations in downtown Indianapolis.
Since 2002, NADA Foundation’s Frank E. McCarthy Program has contributed nearly $800,000 to CCI, placing skilled service dogs with children with disabilities and wounded veterans.
NADA gives another $50,000 to benefit Nellis Air Force Base
Also in conjunction with the 2020 NADA Show in Las Vegas, NADA made a $50,000 donation to the Nellis Support Team, a nonprofit organization whose broad mission includes supporting more than 30,000 airmen and their families at Nellis Air Force Base, Creech Air Force Base and Nevada Test and Training Range in southern Nevada.
Officials highlighted the donation is the second from NADA to the Nellis Support Team. NADA noted funds from its first donation in 2018 made reopening the base’s Auto Skills Center a reality, allowing the airmen and their families who call Nellis home with an opportunity to repair their vehicles independently.
“The brave men and women at Nellis Air Force Base protect and serve our country and I am so pleased we can serve them,” Gilchrist said. “I am honored today to meet with the airmen at Nellis and tour this wonderful Auto Skills Shop.”
The funds of the donation may be used to purchase additional tools and equipment including three drive on auto lifts and a new wheel alignment/changer.