David Westcott — September 2013
2013 NADA Chairman
NADA’s leadership recently received an unprecedented invitation to meet with the board of directors from General Motors Company in Detroit. GM was founded in 1908 and NADA in 1917. But last month marks the first time our leadership and the GM board have met face to face.
On August 19, NADA President Peter Welch, NADA GM line group chairman Mark Scarpelli and I addressed the automaker’s 14-member board and management staff. This included GM Chairman and CEO Daniel Akerson. As car and truck dealers, we work hard every day not only to establish good relationships with our customers but our manufacturers as well. This meeting was an opportune moment to share our current successes, challenges and goals, and we were met by a very receptive group.
Peter outlined NADA’s mission and purpose—to serve and represent franchised new-car and -truck dealers. NADA has been the “voice of the dealer” since 1917. He discussed what we’ve been doing to fulfill our goals of protecting and enhancing the franchise system and communicating dealers’ views to all branches of the federal government, to the public and to manufacturers.
Mark Scarpelli offered his perspective as a Chevrolet dealer and described the challenges dealers encounter on the showroom floor. He also presented the results of NADA’s most recent GM Dealer Attitude Survey, giving the board an understanding of how dealers view their relationships with manufacturers.
I briefed the board on our most pressing industry issues. At the top of NADA’s list is the guidance issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its potentially harmful effects on dealer-assisted financing. I also discussed the impact of fuel economy rules on vehicle affordability, intellectual property and data security, and manufacturer mandates such as image programs and stair-step incentives.
Following our presentations, we had the opportunity to field some questions from several board members and engage with them on some of the issues on their mind. It was not surprising that we came away from the meeting with a better understanding of our common interests.
NADA represents nearly 16,000 new-car and -truck dealerships with more than 32,000 franchises, domestic and international. This year, dealers will retail more than 15 million new cars and trucks, and that includes natural gas, hybrid, electric and other alternative-technology vehicles.
The more manufacturers work with their dealers on a cooperative basis, the more successful we will be at doing what we do best—selling cars.
GM’s unprecedented invitation for NADA’s leadership to meet with its board is a positive sign. For us to be successful, manufacturers need to view dealers as their partners in a relationship based on mutual respect. But the need to maintain open communications between dealer and manufacturer has never been greater. In this regard, the meeting with GM’s board is a step in the right direction.