The National Automobile Dealers Association has elected Paul Walser as its 2020 vice chairman, indicating Walser is on deck to be chairman of the group in 2021.
Walser, 64, who represents Minnesota new-vehicle dealers and is a partner in Walser Automotive Group in Edina, Minn., was elected to the 2020 post during the association's board meeting Tuesday in San Diego.
Walser, who serves as NADA's industry relations committee chairman, got his start in auto retail in 1974 selling new vehicles at Town's Edge Ford. Walser Automotive ranks No. 56 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 17,745 new vehicles in 2018. In March, it had 25 dealerships in Minnesota and Kansas, from Acura, Subaru and Mazda stores to a Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram outlet.
“This is truly an honor for me," Walser said in a statement. "When I was campaigning, I reached out to every member of the NADA Board to get a sense of what their greatest concerns were. And this is what I’m looking forward to most as NADA’s Vice Chairman; getting input from our very smart, very accomplished members about the challenges facing franchised dealers and how best to address them.”
Rhett Ricart, 62, current NADA vice chairman and CEO of Ricart Automotive Group in Groveport, Ohio, near Columbus, was elected chairman for 2020. He and Walser will take over their new duties beginning in mid-February at the NADA Show in Las Vegas.
Ricart, who has Ford, Genesis, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan franchises, plus Harley-Davidson stores, said he was humbled by the move.
"We must keep building on what's been provided to us, and we must take advantage of the opportunity to protect and build upon our legacy," Ricart said in a statement.
Ricart will succeed 2019 Chairman Charlie Gilchrist, 63, who is president of SouthWest Ford in Weatherford, Texas, and of Gilchrist Automotive, which includes Buick-GMC, Chevrolet, Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen franchises in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.
Bill Willis was re-elected secretary, and Bob Shuman was re-elected treasurer. Willis is president of Willis Chevrolet-Buick and Willis Ford in Smyrna, Del., and Shuman is president of Shuman Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Walled Lake, Mich., near Detroit.