Both the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and the American International Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA) welcomed their respective new chairman for 2018 this past weekend.
The new NADA chairman and president of Extreme Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram in Jackson, Mich., Wes Lutz, outlined his goals and focus areas for the coming year at NADA 2018; while AIADA named its 2018 chairman — Salt Lake City, Utah, dealer Brad Strong — at its 48th Annual Meeting and Luncheon.
NADA Chairman outlines goals
Lutz, during his first official speech at 2018 NADA chairman, focused on how technology is changing the industry — for the better — as well as his priorities for the coming year.
“It’s true, technology makes sharing a car more convenient than ever. But, what the naysayers forget, is that technology also makes owning a car better than it used to be,” said Lutz, who has been a dealer since 1976. “Auto dealers are going to sell the vast majority of electric cars sold … The automobile is the most exciting platform for innovation in the next 100 years.”
Lutz explained he plans to advocate for new-car dealer concerns within the industry, as well as in the legislative and regulatory sectors. Lutz said he will also encourage dealers to continue adapting to future retailing challenges.
“Just because a new system pops up, doesn’t mean the ‘old one’ is dead. Just because technology changes, it doesn’t mean that a car’s usefulness is gone. At almost every turn, dealers have faced challenges—some major ones. But our troubles didn’t define us. How we responded to them did.”
Earlier this year, he discussed with Auto Remarketing this very topic of change. Ridesharing, in particular, was one shift he addressed.
“I think a variety of options are going to coexist. The future, in my opinion, is going to be a combination of vehicle ownership and ride sharing,” he said. “It’s not going to be one or the other.”
Lutz explained at the NADA conference that auto dealers “have a role to play in the future of the industry,” in terms of investing in both new franachises and facilities, as well as new technologies.
As for NADA’s role, Lutz said, “NADA will continue to fight for you in our nation’s Capital —in the face of regulatory and legislative burdens. We will continue to reach out to manufacturers and build strong relationships moving ahead.”
Lutz served on NADA’s board of directors until 2004, and then returned in 2017 as chairman of the association’s regulatory affairs committee. He also served as president of the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association in 2012. Most recently, Lutz served as NADA vice chairman under outgoing chairman Mark Scarpelli.
New AIADA chairman focuses on threat of ‘trade wars’
AIADA’s new chairman is the co-dealer principal of Strong Volkswagen, Audi Salt Lake City and Porsche Salt Lake City.
Strong, a third-generation dealer, runs the stores with his brother, Blake — two of which have been in operation since the 1940s. The pair opened their new downtown VW store last year.
At the AIADA event, Strong focused on the role dealers play in the U.S. economy, as well as what they need to do to “defend their businesses” — with a particular focus on trade wars in light of recent news stemming from the Trump Administration.
"We need to work with AIADA to hold congressional visits at our dealerships where we can share our investment numbers and our employment stats,” said Strong. “That's the best shot we have at convincing lawmakers that trade wars aren't abstract fights between nations and political parties. Trade wars have real consequences, and unfortunately for us, they can have real casualties.”
In fact, Strong, who has served on AIADA's Board of Directors since 2009, focused on the threat of new trade and tariff policies and what this means to international nameplate dealers in a recent column that ran on Auto Remarketing.
"Washington has no sense of how price sensitive this industry is, and just how easily their tax and tariff schemes could send annual auto sales into a tailspin, costing thousands of jobs," Strong said.