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NADA Chairman Rhett Ricart: We’ve Got This



2021 NADA Board Member Rhett Ricart

Rhett Ricart

NADA Board Member - Ohio
Industry Relations Kia Liaison

It has been just over 60 days since I took the helm as chairman of NADA. In my incoming speech, I talked about corruption, obstruction and disruption to the auto retail industry… and what a disruptor we now have in our midst – COVID-19.

As auto dealers, we know disruption; it isn’t new and it will never stop. In fact, we’ve found a way to grow and thrive out of disruption, and the coronavirus pandemic will serve as yet another example of dealers adapting and overcoming our challenges.

In 2009, during the Great Recession, many of us were fighting manufacturers to keep our franchises. Today, the industry is united and we are fighting a virus that threatens not only the safety and health of our families, employees and customers, but has all but wiped out customer demand for the moment. For many of us, sales are down between 30%—even 100% in some states where sales are not permitted at all. Even our service departments, the bread and butter of our dealerships, are experiencing decreased demand.

I don’t take this lightly. It is a stressful and difficult moment for all of us. We all care deeply about our communities and our employees and, unfortunately, many of us have been forced to cut our workforces to survive.

Now is the time to stand together and preserve the auto retail industry. We have weathered many storms before and we will weather this one.

To help us navigate business operations and regulations in the coronavirus environment, NADA has developed a host of resources. These tools – including the NADA Coronavirus Hub, and the Dealership Lifeline Webinar Series with near daily webinars at 1:00 p.m. EST – that provide important, timely information and guidance that is updated around the clock. All members should make sure they are subscribed and receiving the daily 6 p.m. EST coronavirus update email, which summarizes the news and need-to-know developments of the day.

NADA is also working relentlessly behind the scenes in Washington to support our dealer body across the country. NADA’s staff has been hard at work advocating for vehicle sales operations to be deemed essential at the federal level and calling on government leaders to enact policies that allow for America’s small businesses, including dealers, to keep their employees on the payroll.

NADA played an important role in keeping Congress focused on the need to provide immediate payroll liquidity to Main Street businesses like yours and mine, which ultimately led to the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program. And NADA also played a crucial role in ensuring that the pieces were in place for the majority of franchised dealers to be eligible for PPP loans so that they could retain and support their employees. Our payrolls are so important to our employees, their families and our local communities, especially when the rest of the retail sector is suffering as well. More recently, NADA worked with a number of other business groups to get this program further funded, as additional payroll funds are needed in to stabilize numerous local economies across the country.

Furthermore, NADA is navigating the complex COVID-19 labor and employment policies that have been adopted to date, and are summarizing them into actionable tasks for dealers.

We need to stand united more than ever—and, fortunately, we’re not alone. We have a relentless and talented NADA staff that works around the clock to advocate, educate, and communicate on your behalf. I meant what I said in February: we are a bulletproof band of brothers and sisters and now is the time to:

  1. Stay involved with your community.
  2. Over communicate and support your state and metro associations.
  3. Bear down despite the chaos.
  4. Stay positive, we will get through this TOGETHER!
  5. Stay healthy.

Stay safe and stay strong.


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