Meanwhile at the general sessions in the auditorium, dealers could see Jay Leno, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bob Woodruff and Tom Brokaw. AutoStar hosted a reception at which political and financial commentator Ben Stein spoke for half an hour and visited with dealers.
And, of course, NADA has a big budget for keynote speakers. Over the years the association has brought stars of stage, screen and contemporary events to talk to dealer members. At the top of the list are three former presidents: No. 41, George H.W. Bush; No. 42, Bill Clinton; and No. 43, George W. Bush.
In the several-year-long, never-ending runup to the election to be No. 45, NADA paid Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton to be convention speakers before they announced their candidacies, probably because as part of emerging political dynasties they seemed odds-on favorites to be the eventual nominees for their respective parties. Talk about a bummer family reunion, eh?
The NADA convention also provides a place for another kind of family reunion.
Even if they're not looking for a new franchise or shop equipment or chitchat with factory execs, some dealers come to the NADA convention with wives or husbands and maybe sons and daughters who are learning about the family dealership business.
NADA is the place to appreciate family.
Even the association has strong family ties that span decades. Dealer Warren McEleney of Iowa headed NADA in 1971 when the top elected dealer official was known as president. His son John McEleney was chairman of NADA in 2009. Ron Tonkin of Portland, Ore., was NADA president in 1989. His son Ed Tonkin was NADA chairman in 2010. And Marcy Maguire, NADA director from New Jersey, is the wife of Bob Maguire, a former NADA director who was chairman in 2001.
You guessed it. Their son, Michael Maguire, already is in the business. He is executive manager at Windsor Nissan in East Windsor, N.J., and likely to get his own store soon because the company is expanding.
Yes, it's definitely a family affair.