National Automobile Dealers Association
Press Release

NADA Convention to Host 21 Automaker-Dealer Franchise Meetings at Critical Time for Industry


Ford’s Mulally and Former Presidents Bush and Clinton to Deliver Remarks

MCLEAN, Va. (Jan. 12, 2009) – Now that U.S. automakers are receiving emergency bridge loans to weather the economic crisis, attention has shifted to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention & Exposition in New Orleans Jan. 24-27 when dealers will meet face-to-face with their automakers’ top leadership.

“As the automakers and the federal government consider ways to restructure the domestic auto industry as a condition to receiving loan installments, here’s an important fact to note,” says NADA Chairman Annette Sykora, owner of two domestic-brand dealerships near Lubbock, Texas. “It is not the number of dealerships that General Motors, Chrysler and Ford have in operation today that forced them to seek emergency bridge loans. Shrinking the dealer network should not be a condition to restructure the domestic auto industry.

“Dealerships are not owned by the automakers,” Sykora added. “Dealers own their franchises and have invested millions of dollars of their own in land, buildings, improvements, personnel, high-tech equipment and advertising to sell and service vehicles.”

To address this and other issues, NADA’s Industry Relations group announced that 21 separate automaker franchise meetings have been confirmed at the convention. GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner; Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA; Jim Press, Chrysler vice chairman and president; and Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Co., are all planning to attend. Mulally will deliver the keynote address on Saturday, Jan. 24, following Sykora’s remarks.

NADA has also assembled a lineup of leading political figures and inspirational speakers—including former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton—to deliver remarks Monday, Jan. 26 during its 92nd annual convention. 

Archie Manning (Saturday, Jan. 24), former New Orleans Saints quarterback and NFL’s Most Valuable Player, and Christopher Gardner (Sunday, Jan. 25), the inspiration for the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” will offer motivational and inspirational talks. Incoming NADA Chairman John P. McEleney will outline his priorities Monday, Jan. 26 for the coming year of economic uncertainty.

“This year’s lineup is one of the most impressive in NADA’s history,” says NADA Convention Chairman Jeff Carlson. “In line with this year’s convention theme of ‘Committed to Community,’ former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton join us in highlighting nationwide efforts to give back to the New Orleans community after the ravaging hurricanes.”

Last year, the NADA Charitable Foundation made a $400,000 contribution to the Brees Dream Foundation—founded by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and wife, Brittany—to help rebuild the athletic fields at the Lusher Charter School, the largest public high school in heart of New Orleans.

About Annette Sykora

Annette Sykora, dealer principal of Smith Ford Mercury in Slaton, Texas, and Smith South Plains Ford, Lincoln-Mercury, Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep in Levelland, Texas, is 2008 NADA chairman. During her term, Sykora represented NADA on issues, such as: dealership closings, credit crisis, support for federal bridge loans, tax incentives to boost auto sales, fuel economy and the rise of green dealerships, child passenger safety, and training the next generation of dealership employees.

About John McEleney

John McEleney, president of McEleney Autocenter, Inc., Clinton, Iowa, and McEleney Autoplex, Inc., Iowa City, Iowa, is 2008 vice chairman and the 2009 chairman of NADA. A lifelong resident of Clinton, Iowa, McEleney joined the family car business after receiving a business administration degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1973. After working in the family’s dealership in various capacities, including sales consultant and body shop estimator, McEleney became general manager in 1976. Today, his two dealerships sell Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, GMC, Cadillac, Toyota and Hyundai brand vehicles. McEleney’s election as 2009 NADA chairman comes amid economic turmoil and historically low auto sales.

About George H.W. Bush and William J. Clinton

Following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the two former U.S. presidents established the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund to assist with the rebuilding efforts of New Orleans. The campaign was the second collaboration for the two, who previously worked together to raise funds to support relief and recovery efforts following the tsunami in South Asia. Recently, Presidents Bush and Clinton partnered again to announce the Bush Clinton Coastal Recovery Fund in response to the devastating hurricanes along the Gulf Coast.

About Alan Mulally

Prior to joining Ford in September 2006, Mulally served as executive vice president of The Boeing Company, and president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. In that role, he was responsible for all of the company’s commercial airplane programs and related services. Throughout his career, Mulally has been recognized for his contributions and industry leadership, including being named “Person of the Year” for 2006 by Aviation Week magazine and one of “The Best Leaders of 2005” by BusinessWeek magazine.

About Archie Manning

Archie Manning epitomizes football. In 1971, he was the second player chosen in the first round of the NFL draft by the Saints. He set passing records, played in two Pro Bowls and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1978. But Manning’s appeal transcends his athletic achievements. Manning and son Peyton, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, have written a book, “Manning: A Father, His Sons and A Football Legacy.” Other son Eli is quarterback for the 2008 Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The Mannings operate the Manning Passing Academy, a summer camp for high school quarterbacks and receivers.

About Christopher Gardner

Christopher Gardner, owner and CEO of Christopher Gardner International Holdings, is also a passionate philanthropist whose work has been recognized by many organizations. The amazing story of Gardner’s life was published as an autobiography, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” in May 2006, and became a New York Times and Washington Post No. 1 bestseller. Gardner was also the inspiration for the movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” released in December 2006. The movie is the No. 2 all-time domestic grossing drama.

The NADA convention in New Orleans takes place Jan. 24-27. NADA, founded in 1917 and based in McLean, Va., represents 18,614 new car and truck dealers holding about 40,000 separate franchises, both domestic and import.


David Hyatt
Vice President
NADA Public Affairs
(703) 821-7120

Charles Cyrill
Director of Public Relations
NADA Public Affairs
(703) 821-7121