Dealer advocate Welch is just what NADA needs
The selection of Peter Welch as the new president of the National Automobile Dealers Association is a step in the right direction for an organization that lately has been focused almost exclusively on legislative and governmental affairs.
The appointment of Welch should put dealer concerns back on top of NADA's agenda.
As head of California's dealer group, Welch led the fight against Chrysler Group's factory-owned dealership in Los Angeles, and he has spent much of his career representing dealer interests.
Hiring the head of the California New Car Dealers Association, the largest state-level dealer group with more than 1,100 members, gives NADA a leader familiar with the business of selling cars as well as the legal and regulatory issues that dealers face on a regular basis.
It also gives the organization a leader who can handle issues related to strict environmental and consumer-protection rules -- complexities that permeate the industry in California.
During his tenure in California, Welch has pushed regulators to enforce state franchise laws that protect dealers.
This is an opportunity for NADA to strengthen its approach as an organization.
The new normal in the retail business demands a leader with Welch's experience.
In a volatile, ever-changing market where agility and insight matter, NADA, with its direct ties to the front lines of automotive events, is more important than ever.
Dealers, through NADA, can use their collective insight from their 20 groups, conventions and dealer academies to shape their policies going forward and shape the way the industry changes.
Insight from the showroom floor and the service lanes can be used at several levels: to advance dealer interests, improve dealership practices and increase understanding about retail realities both in the halls of Congress and among auto manufacturers.
NADA must play offense and defense on dealer issues; it must protect the dealer entrepreneurs and the franchise system in general. The best way for NADA to stay ahead of change is to shape the way auto manufacturers see the role of dealers.
Having a leader such as Welch, with experience in multiple areas, will serve the organization in a more proactive way and bring a better result for all dealers.