Ron Tonkin, in his own words

Quotes from the fiery dealer leader

"What I hope to do is create a new awareness of dealers, enhancing their self-esteem and self-worth in the triangle that makes up this industry -- the manufacturer, labor and the dealer. You know no two legs of that triangle can stand alone. You need the third, and too often our industry has been influenced by what the automakers say and do and by what labor says and does, and the dealers have been at the mercy of whatever decisions are made between those two entities."

-- January 1989 (interview with Automotive News)

"Dealer profits went down again in 1988, while the automakers went up from a magnificent 1987 to record quarters and a record year in 1988. They can't keep doing this on the backs of their dealers."

-- January 1989 (interview with Automotive News)

"I visualize the day -- and I'm serious about this -- that automakers come in and pay dealers for showroom space, like a food and beverage distributor does with a supermarket for shelf space. I visualize the day when automakers may have to pay a dealer to carry their parts, to actually be a parts station for them, to do their service work beyond the warranty costs. I'm speaking of where they have to share in some of the dealer's facility expense -- land, buildings, whatever. I think that day can come."

-- January 1989 (interview with Automotive News)

"I'd like our auto dealers to think of me as Mike Tyson. Not everybody likes what they hear about him, but so far nobody's beaten him."

-- February 1989 (His acceptance speech at NADA)

"If being outspoken means speaking out about the injustices that have befallen dealers, then I plead guilty. We dealers are swivel-necked from turning the other cheek, and it has to stop. We want our automakers to make money, but not by wreaking havoc on their partners, the auto dealers."

-- February 1989 (His acceptance speech at NADA)

"Our first focus is to once and for all get rid of fleet subsidies. We dealers are suffering, and so are our customers. Fleets get our new models first (coming in from Dulles Airport a couple days ago, I saw a Chevrolet Lumina, and I know we don't have any at our dealership in Portland, Ore.). They buy for less; they have guarantees; and they don't have CSI, DIP service departments, parts departments or facility requirements."

-- March 1989 (in a guest column in Automotive News)



ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Over the last few months, Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.