Conventions Past and Present

BY JOE PHILLIPS AND PETER CRAIG

At first, the get-togethers were set in Midwestern cities such as Chicago (site of NADA’s founding) or Detroit, then spread to Atlantic City, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami Beach, New York City, Orlando and Washington, D.C. The convention, usually scheduled for January or February, is now held in three cities that can accommodate its ballooning number of attendees: Las Vegas, New Orleans and San Francisco.

NADA has always had a strong connection with New Orleans. The first NADA convention held there was in 1936, set in the iconic Roosevelt Hotel and focusing on slim new-car profits.

Then 66 years later, NADA had to switch its New Orleans convention dates with the Super Bowl after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks threw off the NFL schedule by a week. (Somehow, NADA rearranged in four months what had been planned for years.)

And after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005, NADA helped raise $400,000 to rebuild athletic fields at the city’s Lusher Charter School and brought in Katrina fundraisers George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to speak at its next New Orleans convention.

The show’s goal is to refresh and inspire NADA members through speeches, workshops, franchise meetings, networking events and, of course, the expo. Over its 100 years, NADA has had to cancel only three conventions (blame World War II) but has always adapted to changing trends and technologies—just like dealers do every day in their stores. ❖

For more on the NADA convention, go to nada.org/convention.