Car dealers' response to last year's hurricanes is one of many examples that show the resilience of the franchise system, Jack Kain, NADA's outgoing chairman, said in his speech during the convention's opening ceremony Saturday.
Kain pointed out that the franchise system is 100 years old this year.
He cited dealers' ability to revive their businesses and the industry's contributions of $4 million to the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation's Emergency Relief Fund to assist Gulf Coast dealerships hit by the storms.
"I've never seen anything so impressive," Kain said. "This is dealer service at its best."
He also expressed optimism that the hurricanes - and the publicity given the thousands of flood-damaged vehicles - would give momentum to NADA's efforts to lobby for federal legislation combating title fraud.
"Dealers are indeed survivors," he said.
But Kain acknowledged that "these are still challenging times." He was referring particularly to the financial woes of Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, which could place many dealerships in jeopardy.
"This past year, we have carried a very clear message to manufacturers - any right-sizing should only be driven by market forces," he said.
Kain expressed optimism that dealers will continue to make the best of the challenges they face.
He listed several of NADA's accomplishments during his term:
- Two national safety campaigns - one to help protect children and the other to encourage proper tire maintenance.
- Automotive Career Week, in which hundreds of dealers in 44 states invited students to their dealerships.
- The Americans Well-Informed About Automobile Retailing Economics (AWARE) coalition, a campaign to educate consumers on auto financing.
You may e-mail Donna Harris at [email protected]