The National Automobile Dealers Association was founded in 1917 with a singular mission: to protect the interests of new-car dealerships and advocate for an industry that would become an economic backbone of the nation.
For nearly a century, NADA has been fulfilling that goal and, in the process, pioneered some of the most valuable services in the industry for its growing membership, right under its roof. These services include the NADA Used Car Guide, which has been part of NADA's heritage for more than 80 years, and NADART, founded in 1957.
We never imagined we would part with either one, and we would not have unless we firmly believed doing so would benefit our dealer members and advance NADA's core mission.
This was the case when J.D. Power made an unsolicited offer to purchase the Used Car Guide business. With a difficult decision at hand but unanimous consensus, the NADA board of directors, the Guide board of advisors and NADA's finance and executive committees, all agreed that the best course of action was to sell the Guide to J.D. Power, a trusted industry ally.
This decision, which was not reached easily or without careful consideration, will benefit all parties involved, especially our dealer members and the Guide's current and future customers. The Guide business will continue to grow and become an even stronger industry resource under J.D. Power. As part of its agreement with NADA, J.D. Power will continue to provide NADA members with a complimentary Guide subscription as a membership benefit.
In a move unrelated to Guide, after conducting an in-depth review of various retirement plan providers, NADA made a decision to enter into a relationship with Empower Retirement, a division of Great-West Life and Annuity Insurance Company, to offer retirement plans to NADA members. Empower Retirement is the second-largest retirement plan provider in the United States with nearly 7 million participants. The new NADA Retirement Program from Empower will go live in October of 2015, as the long-standing NADART program is retired.
NADA Retirement Program participants can expect to see many enhanced benefits, including a nearly 50-percent reduction in program fees, a state-of-the-art website designed to make it easier for participants to track their progress in saving for retirement, and fiduciary support services at a level higher than those offered by other retirement service providers, which is a service already familiar to NADART plan sponsors. NADART has been working closely with Empower to ensure a streamlined transition process for plans transferring to Empower.
While it's difficult to see these long-time services, built over NADA's history, leave the NADA family, we look to the future with optimism and renewed vigor. And, as always, we will continue to guard the interests of the franchised dealers we are privileged to serve, while remaining steadfast to NADA's mission that began nearly 100 years ago.
Most importantly, these moves will allow NADA to become more mission-focused, centering on core member services, which include protecting and strengthening the dealer franchise system, advocating on behalf of new-car dealers with Congress, the regulatory agencies in Washington, manufacturers, the media and the public, providing education and training resources for dealers and their employees, and providing dealers with better tools to enhance profitability.
Bill Fox is 2015 NADA chairman and a multi-franchise dealer in upstate New York.