Dealers being a colorful lot, it's not surprising that NADA has had some interesting leaders during its 100 years.
William E. Hancock Jr. made a lasting mark on NADA by taking the lead in founding a political action committee to give dealers a stronger voice on Capitol Hill.
The 1960s spawned new movements to protect consumers and employees, leading to a raft of new laws in the following decade. Sam H. White spent much of his term as NADA president beating back such legislation.
When Harold Wells became NADA chairman in 2000, he'd already been in the thick of the fight against company stores. And new issues loomed for the General Motors and Chrysler dealer from Whiteville, N.C.: dealer consolidation and Internet sales.
To be NADA chairman, an individual needs an understanding of the industry, the issues and the political process. It also helps to be ready for a lot of travel. Here are the paths two chairmen took to the post.
A list of presidents and chairmen of the National Automobile Dealers Association
“Dealers and OEM staff often ask me and former chairmen and NADA board members what it takes to become the chairman of NADA,” writes 2016 Chairman Jeff Carlson. Here's his response.
He railed against automakers' use of retail rebates, mandatory ad associations and fees and customer satisfaction indexes. He charged factories with shoving unwanted inventory onto dealers and blamed them for dealers' dwindling profits. He was Oregon dealer Ron Tonkin, arguably the most colorful and controversial leader in NADA's history.
Frank McCarthy spent 33 years -- exactly half his lifetime -- as NADA's chief executive. Those who knew him say that before he died in 2001, McCarthy built the organization into a powerhouse on Capitol Hill as well as within the U.S. auto industry, while maintaining a self-effacing, family-oriented personal style. McCarthy, a lawyer, joined NADA as executive vice president in 1968 at age 33.
Automotive News Editor-in-Chief Keith Crain published a column on March 12, 2001, remembering Frank McCarthy, NADA's chief executive for 33 years. Here are some excerpts.
From 2001-12, Phillip D. Brady served as president of NADA. Each year was eventful. In this column, he recalls some of the highlights.
NADA has undergone major change in the four years since Peter Welch took the helm. It has slimmed down by shedding non-core operations and focusing on what its members deemed core to its mission.
Forecasts of what the future will bring for dealers abound. What makes car dealers special is their ability to adapt to the changes taking place around them and, if need be, reinvent themselves in order to survive.