The American International Automobile Dealers Association has named Richmond, Ky.-based auto dealer Steve Gates as its 2021 chairman.
Gates, 69, was appointed to the position during the association's annual meeting Wednesday — held virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. He succeeds Jason Courter, who is CEO of Honda Auto Center of Bellevue and Honda of Kirkland in Washington.
AIADA’s board of directors also elected Mike Darrow as its vice chairman. Darrow is COO of the Russ Darrow Group, which sells Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Kia, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota across 15 locations in Wisconsin.
Gates is a third-generation dealer who owns Gates Auto Family, which operates dealerships in Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana. The dealer group sells Audi, Ford, Lincoln, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Nissan and Toyota vehicles.
"Becoming chairman of AIADA is by far the biggest honor I've ever received," Gates said in a statement. "I can promise you that day in and day out I will do everything I can for this industry and AIADA. I'm excited and ready to go."
As chairman, Gates said he plans to focus on getting dealers more involved in AIADA — the main trade association for dealers of imported vehicles — through its Dealer Visit Program, which allows dealers to connect one-on-one with members of Congress.
"My plan is to attend every meeting I can, including regional and mid-level meetings, to get more people involved in AIADA," he said. "We have so many dynamic young dealers on our board of directors, and I want to see that represented in AIADA's overall member involvement."
Gates has been part of AIADA's board of directors since 2014 as well as an outspoken advocate for dealers on Capitol Hill. In 2018, for example, he testified on behalf of the association's members on the impact of proposed Section 232 tariffs on autos and auto parts during a Senate committee hearing.
Along with Courter — AIADA's immediate past chairman — Gates is joined on the board by fellow dealers John Connelly, chairman-elect, and Mike DeSilva, secretary/treasurer.