ATAE provides a forum for the exchange of information, and serves as a clearinghouse for resources needed by member association executives. Through professional development programs, research, and networking opportunities, ATAE provides members with the tools they need to continually improve the value and effectiveness of services offered to their dealer members.
ATAE works closely with the National Automobile Dealers Association to serve dealers on all levels, providing governmental representation, industry and public relations guidance, education and consulting programs, meetings and conventions, and a wide variety of products and services.
In 1915, a dedicated group of automobile show managers met informally to discuss the various aspects of staging auto shows. Ray W. Sherman, a writer for “Motor World” magazine, visited auto shows held throughout the U.S. and determined it would be beneficial for show managers to meet and share ideas and best practices and founded the National Association of Automobile Show Managers (NAASM).
The first meeting was held in Chicago, marking the formal formation of the association. In its early years, one of the most significant accomplishments of NAASM was securing a lift on the ban on motor shows the War Board. Many in the industry at the time felt that this action kept the industry in the public eye and brought the automobile business back to normal more rapidly than any other business after World War I. The initial leaders of the association, men who could be called “men of vision,” realized that enlarging the scope of the association could accomplish greater victories in the industry.
In 1920, all managers of automobile trade associations were invited to participate in NAASM meetings, and its name was changed to the National Association of Automobile Show and Association Managers (NAASAM). Women were invited to attend the meetings for the first time in 1924, and in 1925, annual summer meetings began being held in different locations.
With the post-war depression of the twenties, the “used car problem” became top of discussion and many plans were proposed to address the problem. Again, the association seized the opportunity and held a “used car conference,” the first centralization of information on the numerous cooperative plans. The conference clarified the thinking of industry leaders and marked a further step in the association’s progress.
During the depression, associations identified the need to provide more effective and robust services for their members in order to survive. Associations began offering services such as insurance programs, dealer registrations, advertising, collection service, legal assistance, education and safety campaigns.
In 1934, realizing the need for aggressive leadership, formal Bylaws were adopted at the meeting of the association, and its name was changed to Automotive Trade Association Managers (ATAM), better signifying the stature to which the occupation had developed. The secretary-treasurer role passed to succeeding trade paper editors until the 1934 meetings; at which time the association decided to remove the influence of the trade press from the official family and elect one of its member managers to serve in the role.
The World War II years were rough on the automotive industry with manufacturing geared towards the war effort, but ATAM used its influence to support legislation requiring the channeling and disposition of excess motor vehicles to ease disruption in the automotive market in the reconversion period.
During this time, ATAM also urged the protection of automobile dealers via state licensing laws. ATAM maintained a close relationship with the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), and since 1948, an ATAM “observer” has been appointed to serve on most NADA committees. Although ATAM’s original goals have not changed since its inception, the association was not incorporated until 1967.
In 1974, ATAM recognized the growth to come in association business and established a permanent national office in Washington, D.C. The office was, and is, housed in the headquarters building of NADA. In 1984, at the summer meeting, the organization changed its name to Automotive Trade Association Executives (ATAE). Members of ATAE take pride in the part they play in one of the country’s most important industries and will always strive to fulfill the purposes for which it was organized.