Lindsay Chappell
Lindsay Chappell
Infiniti, Nissan Reporter

Just whose NADA is this?

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If you see Michael Bartsch at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in New Orleans this weekend, you will probably find him empty-handed.

That's because Bartsch, Infiniti's new vice president for North America, says he comes to NADA without an agenda, without a formal presentation for his dealers, and most certainly without a PowerPoint presentation.

"I think PowerPoints are a defense mechanism," says Bartsch, who joined Infiniti last summer after working as COO for Porsche's North American operations. "It's something you hide behind. And that's not my intention."

Bartsch reminds the industry that NADA belongs to the dealers, and their meetings at the convention are theirs to control. The automakers are invited guests.

That's something automakers have sometimes seemed unclear about, with factory executives dominating the annual franchise make meetings, or attempting to exert the sort of control they're accustomed to back at the home office.

"NADA is the dealers' forum," Bartsch says of the make meetings, where retailers get a chance to fire questions at factory management. "It's their meeting. It's for them to set the agenda and talk to us -- not the other way around.

"It's not the place for the auto companies to set the agenda," he says.

Bartsch: NADA is not the place for auto companies to set the agenda.

Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

"My team will go up on the stage and our business partners can ask us to come to account on anything they'd like to ask us about," he says of the Infiniti make meetings, which takes place on Saturday.

"I expect them to ask some good questions. There's a lot to ask about. And I hope they'll come away from the meeting confident about what we're doing with the brand.

"But if I go into their meeting and there are no questions, I'll walk out 10 minutes later."

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com.

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