Mentor, OH - Ohio Congressman Steven LaTourette (R-OH-14) visited Classic Toyota for a Dealer Visit with AIADA dealer Jim Brown, general manager David Alicea, and their dealership employees. During the town hall, the group discussed the Cash for Clunkers program and what impact it would have on the automotive retail industry. Rep. LaTourette sponsored a bill to restore dealers' rights with regards to GM, Chrysler dealership closures.
Roswell, GA - Congressman Tom Price (R-GA-07) paid a visit to Regal Nissan for a town hall meeting with local dealer Bo Scott and his dealership employees. During the town hall, the group discussed the current state of the auto industry, and pending Cash for Clunkers legislation. Afterward, Rep. Price toured the dealership and met the hard-working employees in the service and parts departments.
Indio, California - Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-45) visited Unicars Honda for a town hall meeting with dealership employees and a tour. Dealer Andreas Mozoras hosted Rep. Bono Mack and the two discussed the pending Cash for Clunkers legislation and how it would impact business if passed by Congress.
Silver Spring, Maryland - Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD-04) visited DARCARS in Silver Spring, Md. and conducted a town hall meeting with nearly 70 employees. DARCARS vice president Tammy Darvish hosted Rep. Edwards and shared her concerns about the industry and tough decisions she has had to make as a dealer. The Congresswoman drove her Toyota Camry to the dealership and admitted she loves the Camry because she isn't always vigilant about its maintenance needs and the "Camry can take it."
Baytown, Texas - Representative Gene Green (D-TX-29) met with Community Toyota Kia president Roger Elswick and his employees for a Dealer Visit in Baytown, Texas. The conversation again focused on the obstacles dealers are facing right now. "If you talk to auto dealers . . . or anyone who is trying to market and finance something, it's difficult," Green said.
Columbia, Missouri - Freshman Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO-09) participated in a Dealer Visit at Perry Nissan with Dealer Principal Justin Perry to speak with employees about issues impacting the auto business in his district. "At the end of the day, it's the folks on the ground that are going to be directly affected," said Luetkemeyer. "They've got the best ideas on how to solve problems sometimes."
Aurora, Colorado - Freshman Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO-06) visited Aurora, Colorado dealership Gateway Mazda for a Dealer Visit with its president Emanuel Bugelli and vice president Carol Scott. Around 25 employees gathered for the mini town hall with Rep. Coffman to hear from him on auto related topics such as manufacturers' bankruptcy and a cap-and-trade energy proposal. "We need to think about, 'Is it the right time to do this?'" Coffman said, referring specifically to a proposed "cap and trade" plan that could prove costly.
Golden, Colorado - Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-07) visited Planet Honda & Hyundai in the city of Golden. He met with Dealer Principal Lee Payne and his employees for a roundtable discussion on the financial industry and its impact on dealers and consumers who want to buy cars. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Perlmutter was well versed on all money matters. He explained how Wall Street's collapse led to banks tightening their standards for lending money, but agreed that dealers should receive the help they need to keep business going in his district. The roundtable discussion allowed Payne's management team to pose questions directly to the Congressman and receive honest responses.
Paramus, NJ - Representative Scott Garrett (R-NJ-05) held his second Dealer Visit in the past year with DCH Auto Group. Chairman Shau-wai Lam, DCH Auto Group president; CEO Susan Scarola; DCH Paramus Honda general manager Barry Magnus; and Corporate Marketing & Brand Development director Roy Bavaro were all in attendance. The group conducted a mini town hall meeting with employees and toured the dealership facilities.
Brunswick, GA - Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA-01) held two Dealer Visits at international nameplate auto dealerships in his district - I-95 Toyota Brunswick and Nalley Honda - both of which are in Brunswick, Ga. Rep. Kingston heard from his constituent dealers and their employees through a mini town hall forum where he addressed their concerns about consumer confidence and lending available to customers who are ready and willing to purchase new cars.
Staunton, VA - Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA-06) paid a visit to Staunton Nissan Subaru Hyundai during Congress's April district work period. While there, the Congressman discussed the obstacles dealers Ed Lewis and Patrick Janes face when obtaining consumer lending and floorplan financing. Ed Lewis, Dealer Principal of Staunton Auto Group said, "We know that the manufacturers have received billions and billions of dollars, and we just simply need for the banks to be flexible with our consumers." Concerned about getting consumers in his district out to the car lots, Rep. Goodlatte responded that he wants "to make sure that government regulations are geared toward achieving the right mix of making sure that bad loans aren't being made, but that good people aren't being turned away."
Dover, NH - United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen held a roundtable discussion with a group of auto dealers at Dover Auto World in Dover, New Hampshire to hear first-hand the struggles they are having in obtaining adequate financing for their dealership floorplans. Shortly before her visit to Dover, Senator Shaheen heard from AIADA dealer Bob Cockerham of New Mexico on the same topic when he testified before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. The hearing and subsequent Dealer Visit have been part of an ongoing effort by AIADA to encourage the Small Business Administration (SBA) to increase the size limit on working capital loans and guarantee floorplan loans for auto dealers. Learn more in the letter sent to President Barack Obama by clicking here.
Wesley Chapel, FL - Florida Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL-05) visited with David Williams, Operating Partner at Wesley Chapel Toyota. Rep. Brown-Waite participated in a mini town hall meeting with Williams and a group of his employees in the dealership showroom. The conversation focused on issues currently impacting auto dealers, including consumer lending and floorplan financing. "Our staff enjoyed listening to Congresswoman Brown-Waite on various subjects," said Williams.
Mission Viejo, CA - Congressman John Campbell (R-CA-48) paid a visit to Norm Reeves Acura of Mission Viejo. Congressman Campbell was met at the Acura dealership by the General Manager, Mark McKellop. "Representative Campbell has a wide range of interests and is very familiar with the issues impacting today's automotive retail industry," said McKellop, adding that he and his employees were impressed by the Congressman's commitment to business in Southern California. During a mini town hall meeting held in the dealership's showroom, Rep. Campbell answered questions from employees and other local dealers in attendance. A variety of topics were discussed, including the state of the local economy, off-shore drilling, and legislation impacting small businesses.
Riverside, CA - Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA-44) visited with General Manager Bernie Perri and employees at Riverside Infiniti dealership. "It's great to continue our positive and long-standing relationship with Representative Calvert," said Perri, referring to the congressman's association with Riverside Inifiniti's previous general manager, Bill Stephens, who is now the general manager of Cerritos Infiniti. "The congressman is a good friend to the auto industry, and specifically to our dealership." "I was impressed by the people and the quality of work at the Riverside Infiniti Dealership," commented Calvert. "I appreciated hearing their concerns on a number of issues, and I commend Riverside Infiniti for being involved in the community and taking an interest in the issues that impact their employees and customers."
Goleta, CA - Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA-23) visited with Toyota of Santa Barbara General Manager Mike Caldwell and his employees. During a mini town hall meeting held in the dealership's showroom, Rep. Capps answered a number of questions from employees. Topics discussed included free trade, electric vehicles, and the economic factors impacting Toyota of Santa Barbara's sales. "This was a great opportunity to bring a legislator to see our business in action," said Caldwell. "The Congresswoman has formed a real friendship with several of our employees."
Des Moines, IA - Representative Tom Latham (R-IA-04) participated in a Dealer Visit at Willis Auto Campus in Des Moines just one day prior to the 2008 general elections. Representative Latham was met at Willis Auto Campus by President and Owner Rich Willis. "Representative Latham's trip was very beneficial to our employees who were able to participate in this forum," said Willis. "With all the negative campaigning going on at this time, Mr. Latham was neither negative nor hesitant in answering any of our questions."
Greenville, SC - South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis (R-SC-04) visited with Vice President and General Manager Marc White at Steve White VW Audi. Rep. Inglis held a mini town hall with White and employees where the conversation focused on the $17.4 billion domestic auto industry loan President Bush had just approved. "Representative Inglis' trip was beneficial to our employees who were able to participate in this forum," said White. "It's not very often a dealer gets a visit from his congressman. Conversations like the one we had are more important than ever in these tough economic times."
Cerritos, CA - Representative Linda Sánchez (D-CA-29) participated in her second Dealer Visit with Cerritos Infiniti employees since she became a Member of Congress in 2003. General Manager Bill Stephens invited the Congresswoman to sit down with employees for a town hall-style discussion covering topics pertinent to auto dealership workers and constituents in Cerritos. "Linda Sanchez has long been active in educating Californians on careers within the automotive retail industry," said Stephens, adding that he and his employees were impressed by the Congresswoman's willingness to reach out to businesses in Southern California.
Huntington Beach, CA - Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA-46) conducted a town hall with employees at Norm Reeves Honda Superstore: Huntington Beach. The town hall was part of the Dealer Visit program, which connects auto dealers with their legislators. Employees asked questions about the economy, gas prices, taxes, and other issues impacting the industry. Paul Conant, general manager and partner to Dave Conant who owns the Conant Auto Retail Group, hosted the Dealer Visit. "Representative Rohrabacher has a sincere interest in the automotive retail industry," said Paul Conant, adding that he and his employees felt fortunate to have a champion of small business representing them in Washington.
Puyallup, WA - Congressman Adam Smith of Washington's Ninth District paid a visit to Korum's Puyallup Nissan, and was met by owner and operator Bill Korum, who has been in the automobile dealership business for 35 years. During a mini-town hall meeting with the dealership's employees, Rep. Smith answered questions on a number of subjects, including the local economy and drilling for oil in the United States. He told those in attendance that he supports the development of alternative fuels over expanding drilling operations in Alaska.
Emporia, KS - Congressman Jerry Moran of Kansas's Big First district paid a visit to John North Nissan of Emporia, Kansas. Rep. Moran admitted to North and the assembled dealership employees that he puts up to 450,000 miles on his car each year, in an effort to meet with as many of his constituents in the 69 counties of his district as possible. During the mini-town hall meeting with the dealership's employees, Rep. Moran answered questions on a number of subjects, including energy, social security, and health care. "Representative Moran has taken the time to learn about the automotive industry," said North, adding that he and his employees were impressed by the Congressman's commitment to businesses in Kansas.
Manchester, MO - Missouri Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO-02) visited AIADA Board Member Ray Mungenast at his St. Louis Lexus store. The Dealer Visit began with a town hall meeting in the showroom, where about a dozen dealership employees gathered to listen and discuss issues currently impacting international auto dealerships. Congressman Akin then toured the dealership, making sure to stop by every department and station and meet the employees. He even talked "cars" with a senior technician, sharing his troubles with bleeding his Toyota Corolla's brake system.
Mahwah, NJ - New Jersey Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ-05) paid a visit to Liberty Hyundai in Mahwah. The owner of Liberty Hyundai, AIADA Vice Chairman Rick DeSilva, and his sons Michael and Rick Jr., hosted the Congressman. The Dealer Visit began with a town hall forum, where 30 Liberty Hyundai and Liberty Subaru employees gathered to listen and discuss issues currently impacting international auto dealerships. Congressman Garrett addressed the importance of passing the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, the need to explore offshore drilling to drive American oil independence, the impact taxes are having on New Jersey's small businesses, and the need to permanently repeal the Death Tax.
New Port Richey, FL - Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-09) met with Scott Fink, owner of Hyundai of New Port Richey, Florida's largest volume Hyundai dealer and the number two Hyundai store in the U.S. for 32 out of 39 months since its inception. Fink and the Congressman toured the store and discussed a variety of issues related to the recent economic downturn, which is impacting both dealers and consumers. Congressman Bilirakis commended Fink and Hyundai for offering customers an alternative to big, gas-guzzling SUVs. Fink noted the recent trend in customers who want to trade in their bigger vehicles for the "smallest car on the lot." Bilirakis showed his concern for consumers and auto dealers who are struggling to make ends meet in his Congressional district during a roundtable session with Fink and his management team. The Congressman said he would use his voting ability on Capitol Hill to help the small businesses and constituents in his district.
Seaside, CA - Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA-17) paid a visit to Butts Motors in Seaside, California as part of the AIADA Dealer Visit Program which connects auto dealers with their federal lawmakers. Donald Butts, accompanied by his son, Jake - soon to be a fifth-generation Butts dealer - welcomed the Congressman, who is a long-time acquaintance. Their meeting included a tour of the Acura dealership and conversations with some of Congressman Farr's constituents who work in the administrative, service, and parts departments. Butts Motors has been in business for over 100 years and employs 50 people. Butts used the forum with Rep. Farr to touch on a number of issues pertinent to the international auto industry and small business owners.
Saint James, NY - Dealer Robert Certilman, President of Smithtown Acura in Saint James, New York, hosted U.S. Representative Tim Bishop (D-NY-01) for an AIADA Dealer Visit. After the Congressman turned in his Acura - one of two he has purchased at Smithtown - to the service department for a routine check-up, Certilman led Rep. Bishop on a detailed tour of the dealership, introducing him to sales, service, parts, and accounting employees. Bishop met nearly all 47 employees at the facility, asking each where they resided to see if they lived in his district, and it turned out most of the employees were constituents.
Wichita Falls, TX - General Manager Mo Issa hosted Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13) at Patterson Honda/Hyundai/BMW dealership. The visit included of a tour of the facility, discussion of issues AIADA represents, and a chance for Rep. Thornberry to interact with Issa and his constituent colleagues. Issa, who also is president of the Wichita Falls New Car Dealers Association, noted, "We appreciate the opportunity to meet with Rep. Thornberry and discuss issues important to our market, our industry, and Texoma car and truck buyers." U.S. Representative Mac Thornberry is shown at Patterson Downtown Auto Center with a portion of the Patterson Group management including Danny Burns, Lamont Myles, Mo Issa, and James Warnock.
Scottsdale, AZ - Jack Guthrie, General Manager of BMW/Mini of North Scottsdale, invited Representative Harry Mitchell (D-Az.) to visit and tour his dealership. A member of the Legislative Action Network (L.A.N.), Guthrie took the initiative to send a letter of request to Rep. Mitchell in order to build a relationship between constituent and federal elected official and to show him the inner workings of managing a successful dealership. The Dealer Visit also served as a forum for regional Penske Automotive executives to talk with the Congressman. George Raysik, Chief Financial Officer; Jon Wiggins, Area Vice President; Scott Moss, Senior Vice President of Human Resources were all in attendance.
Pasadena, CA - Victoria Rusnak Pearson, Chief Operating Officer and General Councel of Rusnak Group, hosted a major event, gathering 740 Rusnak employees under one roof to witness the rolling-out of their new Rusnak Standard. Pearson has worked hard to prepare to take over for her father Paul, the founder and roots of Rusnak. As an active L.A.N. member, she invited AIADA to be a part of this monumental event. Surprise guest speakers included Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers and U.S. Congressman David Dreier (R-CA-26). The Rusnak Group has been in business for more than 40 years.
Montclair, CA - California Congressman David Dreier (R-CA-26) paid a visit to Great Metro Honda in Montclair, CA. In the picture, Congressman Dreier is speaking to owner and AIADA Chairman, John Hawkins, and his brother, Harold Hawkins. Congressman Dreier was first elected to Congress in 1980. He has earned consistent 100 percent approval ratings from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. In 2003 and 2004, Dreier was honored with the Hero of the Taxpayer Award by the Americans for Tax Reform and the Small Business Advocate Award by the Small Business Survival Committee.
Hickory, NC - AIADA member Benny Yount, President and CEO of Paramount Automotive Group, recently held a grand opening reception in honor of his new KIA building in Hickory, NC. About 100 members of the community, including Mayor Rudy Wright and Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10) attended the event. The star of the evening certainly was Mr. BongGou (B.G.) Lee who serves as the President and CEO of KIA Motors America. He traveled from California to participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony alongside Mr. Yount and Mayor Wright.