WASHINGTON - International nameplate auto dealers will convene here May 18-19 for the 21st annual Automotive Congress, sponsored by the American International Automobile Dealers Association.
Dealers from more than 40 states are expected at the event, which will culminate on Capitol Hill in meetings with members of Congress. Those visits will focus on three areas:
1. The importance of international automobile dealers to each congressional district in terms of jobs, investments and community contributions.
2. The benefits of an open automotive market and free trade.
3. The positive impact the international auto industry has on the nation's economy.
'While there is no immediate threat facing AIADA members, as there was when the U.S. government threatened 100 percent trade tariffs on Japanese luxury cars a few years back, the best way to avoid a crisis is before it happens. We must educate Congress about the benefits of free trade and an open automotive market in the U.S. before another trade crisis arrives,' says AIADA Chairman Dave Mungenast Sr.
Other highlights of the Automotive Congress include two super sessions, legislative issues briefings, mini-sessions and a gala dinner at the JW Marriott Hotel.
Monday's session, 'Washington and Your Business,' will feature Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, political commentator George Stephanopoulos and elections forecaster Charlie Cook.
Also Monday, members of AIADA's grassroots lobbying force will meet for training.
The All-Star Dealer Reception and Banquet will begin at 6: 30 p.m. Monday. Seven dealers will be honored for community and industry service, and the National All-Star Dealer Award winner will be announced. Humorist Mark Russell will entertain.
Tuesday's session, 'The Evolution of Auto Retailing,' will feature a panel discussion on the changes and opportunities in auto retailing. Panelists include: Bill Gilliland, president of Cross-Continent Auto Retailers; Tom Gibson, president of Asbury Automotive Group; Jack Pohanka, chairman of Capital Automotive REIT; and Ben Hollingsworth, chairman of Group 1 Automotive Inc.
Sessions on retailing and business topics are featured throughout the event.
The final event before dealers' congressional appointments is the Capitol Kick-Off Luncheon at noon Tuesday. Dealers will hear from Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mont.
AIADA is the trade association representing America's 10,000 franchised international nameplate auto dealers and their 330,000 employees.