Notes from the NADA Convention and Expo

Ready for a close-up

Posted 10:30 am U.S. ET, Jan. 25
Ready for a close-up
(JOE WILSSENS)
 
For the dealer on your shopping list that seems to have everything already ... this 24 ft. by 10 ft. photo studio equipped with LED lighting is billed as the perfect environment to shoot professional photos of new and used vehicles inside. Priced at $26,000. Photographer not included.
-- David Phillips

NADA swag, trinkets and gewgaw: 2015 edition

Posted 7:53 am U.S. ET, Jan. 25
NADA swag, trinkets and gewgaw: 2015 edition
(DAVID PHILLIPS)
 
They go by many formal and informal names -- advertising specialties, for one -- and someone once described them as the Rodney Dangerfield of integrated marketing. But NADA 2015 has not been without an interesting collection of promotional products.

Can it take a selfie, too?

Posted 1:15 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 25
Can it take a selfie, too?
(DAVID PHILLIPS)
 
Sunday morning is an ideal time to film a car commercial on the streets of San Francisco -- low light, and fewer pedestrians and less traffic congestion to manage. And there's no doubt this Porsche SUV is the ideal hardware for any director looking to capture Oscar-caliber high-speed pursuits -- and maybe a special effect or two -- on the city's notoriously hilly streets.
-- David Phillips

Sunday inspiration

Posted 2:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 25
Sunday inspiration
(MARY BETH VANDER SCHAAF)
 
Dr. Beck Weathers told his tale of surviving the disastrous 1996 Mount Everest storm to an enrapt ballroom full of dealers this morning.
 
“I was largely buried in snow and ice and I was barely clinging to life,” he said. “I hadn’t eaten in three days and was largely blind.”
 
Weathers had been left for dead by fellow climbers and even a rescue crew.
 
He said he’s not a brave person but “was melancholy about not ever again saying I love you to my wife and the thought that I would never again hold my children was unacceptable.”
 
So he got up from the ice and walked.
 
He told the audience through tears: “If I can survive what is unsurvivable, so can you. You have to have an anchor. It can be your friends, colleagues or your family or your God.
 
“I traveled the world seeking what would give me peace and it was in my own backyard.”
 
-- Mary Beth Vander Schaaf

Now you see it (Westin San Francisco Market Street), now you don't

Posted 3:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 24
Now you see it (Westin San Francisco Market Street), now you don't
(ARLENA SAWYERS)
 
Just when you think you know where you’re going, somebody just ups and changes the name of the hotel.
That’s what happened Saturday morning to people who attended the annual Northwood University Breakfast.
The invitations to the event clearly stated the location as The Westin San Francisco Market Street, 50 3rd Street. But to the surprise and confusion of out-of-town attendees the name on the hotel at that address now reads:
Park Central Hotel San Francisco.
A woman at the concierge desk shrugged her shoulders and said the name change happened about 36 hours prior.
Hope Google Maps gets the message.
-- Arlena Sawyers

Who chewed my paddle? Dogs and Hog II

Posted 7:45 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 24
Who chewed my paddle? Dogs and Hog II
(JOE WILSSENS)
 
ADESA auctioned off a Harley Davidson motorcycle and donated the proceeds to Canine Companions for Independence at its NADA stand on Saturday.

This van's a-rockin'

Posted 7:42 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 24
This van's a-rockin'
(KRISHNAN ANANTHARAMAN)
 
The conversion van business isn't dead. It's just in a state of flux. Explorer Van Co. of Warsaw, Ind., which derives 97 percent of its business from General Motors, sees about a third of that business shifting to Ford by year end thanks to the advent of the nimbler Ford Transit 150 and a coming long-wheelbase version that would seat nine. (GM has indicated that it has no plans to update its van platform for the next decade.) The new Fords, says Explorer's Ross Kesler, offer more minivan-like handling than the old Econolines and could tempt larger families to step up to a full-size van. (Sales training tip: Let the kids in first to see the 29" TV.) Explorer execs are especially jazzed about the prospect of layering luxury upon luxury when a new crop of Mercedes Matrix vans come to the U.S. this summer.
-- Krishnan M. Anantharaman

Old guys, cars, comedy and sex - must be an NADA confab

Posted 7:21 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 24
Old guys, cars, comedy and sex - must be an NADA confab
(JOE WILSSENS)
 
Invite a comedian like Jay Leno to speak, and you risk becoming the butt of a joke. “You know what [NADA’s] executive committee needs?” Leno asked at the start of his keynote address Saturday. “More older white guys. That’s where we’re lacking.” The former host of NBC's “The Tonight Show” had the audience in stitches for an hour with a bawdy standup routine about sex, politics and, yes, cars.
-- Gabe Nelson

Pencils join the buggy whip

Posted 7:10 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 24
Pencils join the buggy whip
(DAVE VERSICAL)
 
At Helion Automotive Technologies -- "you sell the cars," they "manage the computers" -- a stylus and touchpad replace canvas, brush and palette.
-- Dave Versical

Hog and dogs

Posted 5:23 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 24
Hog and dogs
(KRISHNAN ANANTHARAMAN)
 
Greg Noonan, owner of Insight Media Enterprises in Cooperstown, N.Y., celebrates his victory in the auction of a 2012 Heritage Harley Davidson to benefit the NADA Foundation and Canine Companions for Independence. Noonan's winning bid was $20,000, but it was matched by a donation from fellow sales consultant Joe Verde, who won last year's motorcycle auction, boosting proceeds to $40,000.
"They say the guy with his hand up last lost the auction," joked Noonan who describes himself as a pet lover and welcomes animals to stay at his upstate New York property.
He added: "I wasn't planning to buy the bike, but I had to."
-- Krishnan M. Anantharaman

Hoping to catch an eye or 2

Posted 11:15 am U.S. ET, Jan. 24
Hoping to catch an eye or 2
(JOE WILSSENS)
 
NADA exhibitors are using rolling billboards around the Moscone Center in San Francisco to advertise their services. Vendors shown here include, from top left: JumpDrive, Digital Air Strike, DealersLink and Joe Verde Sales & Marketing Training.
 

Happy for NADA support

Posted 9:29 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
Happy for NADA support
(JAMIE LaREAU)
 
Meet Happy! She is a 5-month-old labrador retriever and golden retriever mix puppy who happily walked the floor of the NADA convention in San Francisco Friday.
NADA invited Happy and her handler, Lani Sutherland, to the convention because it is donating $20,000 to Canine Companions for Independence. NADA has supported the charity since 2004.
Happy is in training to one day become a full-fledged service dog. Canine Companions provides dogs to people with disabilities, frequently giving dogs to wounded veterans, Sutherland said.
Sutherland will care for and train Happy for the next year and a half before handing her back to Canine Companions to complete Happy's training and place her with a person in need.

Hugs and applause for another Bush

Posted 7:15 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
Hugs and applause for another Bush
(DAVE VERSICAL)
 
Delegates exit the opening general session after hearing former Florida governor Jeb Bush address the group and signal he's seriously considering running for U.S. president in 2016. His speech drew widespread applause and support from the audience.
-- Dave Versical

Happy and prosperous in the U.S.A.

Posted 4:30 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
Happy and prosperous in the U.S.A.
(RICK JOHNSON)
 
Jim Press, the ex-U.S. Toyota boss and former Chrysler president and vice chairman who now runs dealerships in Mexico, Brazil and other countries for RML Automotive, was on the Toyota stand Friday afternoon. After working in international markets for the past several years, Press, 68, says American dealers don't know how good they have it. "They have the largest margins in the world," he said.
 
-- Richard Johnson

Missing in action

Posted 5:29 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
Missing in action
(DAVE GUILFORD)
 
The big story at the Ford display is what's not on the stand. Last year, a big display on how to outfit a body shop to repair the aluminum bodied F-150 was front and center. This F-150 staked out one corner of this year's stand -- but it's outfitted with custom accessories. No big mention of body shop gear. What that means, according to personnel at the stand, is that the move to aluminum on Ford's best-seller has largely been accommodated by dealers. They have either geared up for aluminum, or decided not to and moved on.
-- Dave Guilford

School's in session

Posted 2:45 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
School's in session
(DAVE VERSICAL)
 
It's a full house at AutoTrader's giant booth, where reps are giving demos on the latest online tools to track and connect buyers (Joe Consumer) and sellers (dealers).

Spirit of San Francisco

Posted 2:30 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
Spirit of San Francisco
(KRISHNAN ANANTHARAMAN)
 
A troupe of performers begin their Chinese dragon parade through Moscone West.
 
-- Krishnan M. Anantharaman

Doing deals

Posted 1:45 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
Doing deals
(RICK JOHNSON)
 
Tim Lamb Group's Tim Lamb, left, and Bob Morris, deep in discussion this morning on another buy-sell deal.
"We did a record number of deals last year," said Dick Pryor, a former General Motors zone manager who now runs the south central region for the Lamb Group. "A lot of private cap is coming in."‎
Tim Lamb, the boss, only popped his head out of the meeting for a moment to greet a Volkswagen dealer who was waiting patiently for a chance to chat.
Busy guy, busy stand.
 
 
 
-- Richard Johnson

Scratch-n-dent special

Posted 12:45 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
Scratch-n-dent special
(KRISHNAN ANANTHARAMAN)
 
This industry niche is about to get big. Elektron shows a single-station tool kit for repairing aluminum bodies.
 
-- Krishnan M. Anantharaman

Car of the future

Posted 12:39 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
Car of the future
(KRISHNAN ANANTHARAMAN)
 
The next big megatrend to roil the auto industry will be increasing urban density and the rise of shared mobility solutions. As usual, San Francisco is at the forefront.
 
-- Krishnan M. Anantharaman

On parade

Posted 12:39 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
On parade
(KRISHNAN ANANTHARAMAN)
 
St. Gabriels Celestial Brass Band heralds the arrival of the NADA leadership as they tour the booths in Moscone South.
-- Krishnan M. Anantharaman

Blue oval, NADA summit

Posted 12:06 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
Blue oval, NADA summit
(RICK JOHNSON)
 
Stephen Odell, left, Ford's new global marketing boss, and the company's even newer U.S. sales chief, Mark LaNeve, meet the NADA brain trust this morning.
-- Richard Johnson

Finishing touches

Posted 11:56 am U.S. ET, Jan. 23
Finishing touches
(DAVID PHILLIPS)
 
The doors to the expo floor opened Friday morning but not before a few final touches were made ahead of the rush.

Workin' on the ...

Posted 5:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 22
Workin' on the ...
(DAVID PHILLIPS)
 
It took a matter of hours to set up this car wash in a box.

Like a big-box retailer

Posted 2:53 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 22
Like a big-box retailer
(DAVID PHILLIPS)
 
For the dealer with a long shopping list to outfit her or his store, there is a lot to browse on the show floor.

Just like the presidential election cycle

Posted 12:23 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 22
Just like the presidential election cycle
(DAVID PHILLIPS)
 
The speaker lineup at NADA 2015 has a familiar ring to it ...

Perfect platform

Posted 12:10 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 22
Perfect platform
(DAVID PHILLIPS)
 
When your lot needs that ideal pedestal to draw traffic and help seal the deal ...

Ready to make some money

Posted 4:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 21
Ready to make some money
(DAVID PHILLIPS)
 
The DealerSocket stand -- part Apple store, part Times Square -- is a beehive on Wednesday.

Larger than life

Posted 11:25 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 21
Larger than life
(DAVE VERSICAL)
 
No mistaking who rules the comedy roost in Moscone South.

And here, too

Posted 11:23 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 21
And here, too
(DAVID PHILLIPS)
 
... on the cover of the official 2015 NADA Convention magazine.

Move that crate! Clear the aisles!

Posted 11:12 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 21
Move that crate! Clear the aisles!
(DAVID PHILLIPS)
 
It felt like move-in day Wednesday at San Francisco's Moscone Center as crews rushed to set up hundreds of booths and exhibits ahead of the NADA Convention & Expo 2015. At one point, convention officials used the Moscone West public address system to order all empty carts and crates off the show floor.
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