For the first time, minority and women dealers will serve on the National Automobile Dealers Association board of directors.
The board last week changed the NADA by-laws to include four at-large representatives - two women and two minorities, one each from the eastern and western halves of the country.
The number of directors next year will go to 63 from the current 58. For the first time, Alaska will have a seat on the board. Alaska's 35 dealers used to be represented by NADA's Washington state director.
'Minorities and women represent probably 8 or 9 percent of the total dealer population,' said Ramsay Gillman, NADA president and chairman of Gillman Cos. in Houston. NADA estimates there are at least 525 women dealers. The National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers says 982 new-car and truck franchises are held by minorities.
'This is absolutely important. We need representation on any board that has a significant impact on the industry,' said Sheila Vaden-Williams, executive director of NAMAD. 'We are particularly focused on issues that impact minorities, but that does not take away from our need to have a voice on the other issues.'
NADA will work with the factories and state dealer associations to develop a list of minority and women candidates. The candidates otherwise will go through the normal nomination and election process for NADA directors. The new directors will take office Feb. 3 during NADA's 1998 convention. Like the rest of the directors, the at-large board members will have three-year terms.
Gillman said the change in the by-laws is not a reaction to civil rights leader Jesse Jackson's campaign to get the factories to appoint more minority dealers. Nor is it a response to the American International Automobile Dealers Association's Feb. 3 induction of three more women, two African-Americans and one Hispanic to its board. The organization already had two female directors.
'We've been working closely with NADA on this for three years,' said Vaden-Williams. 'This was also a high-priority item on Ramsay Gillman's agenda.'
In related news, Paul Holloway, 58, NADA's first vice president and president of Dreher-Holloway Inc. in Exeter, N.H., was nominated president-elect. Holloway, who is uncontested, will become president-elect at the October board meeting and president at the 1998 convention on Feb. 3.
Dreher-Holloway has three stores and handles Buick, Pontiac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Cadillac. A fourth store selling BMW is expected to open in August.