50th Annual Meeting and Luncheon

Events 02/17/20

February 17, 2020 at 11:30 am

Westgate Resort and Casino, Paradise North Ballroom, 3000 Paradise Rd., Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

AIADA dealers gathered in Las Vegas on February 17 during the 2020 NADA Show to celebrate the association’s 50th anniversary during the Annual Meeting and Luncheon. This year’s event capped a weekend of celebration, including an industry reception hosted by AIADA on Saturday evening at The Wynn in Las Vegas, and featured the transfer of the chairman’s gavel from 2019 Chairman Howard Hakes of California to 2020 Chairman Jason Courter of Washington.

As noted by AIADA President and CEO Cody Lusk, a lot has changed about America’s auto industry in the last half-century, but international nameplate dealers still need AIADA as a watchdog in Washington, D.C., thanks to the ongoing threats their businesses remain under.

“Fifty years ago, AIADA was created by a group of Volkswagen dealers concerned about the threat of anti-trade legislation targeting their stores. While much has changed about our industry – including the economic footprint we now occupy in the U.S. – the threat of protectionism from inside Washington is more real than ever,” said Lusk, recalling the association’s small beginnings with a group of just 15 dealers concerned about trade quotas and tariffs aimed at stemming the tide of imported Volkswagens.

Launching into the day’s program, Lusk introduced 2019 Chairman Howard Hakes for a look back at his year at the helm of the association. Hakes took over as chairman during AIADA’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco as dealers were embroiled in a 232 national security investigation by the Department of Commerce. Looking back, he noted 2019 was a good year for dealers, who successfully fought back against new tariffs and watched as a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico was ratified.

Taking the gavel, Courter discussed his goals for 2020 and his hope that today’s dealers can reflect some of the spirit and motivation of AIADA’s original founders. “International nameplate dealers in the 70s and 80s truly had vision; they saw an opportunity in VW and other import brands and they were willing to take big chances in order to build something new. More than that, they were willing to fight to protect what was theirs.”

America’s international nameplate dealers may be more successful than ever, but that success also means that they have more on the line, said Courter. “This year, we must serve as a constant reminder to both parties on Capitol Hill that dealers have a big influence in their districts, and we’re not the kind of enemy you want to make in an election year,” he said.

“We aren’t going to sit back and watch federal taxes and financial regulations chip away at the businesses we built, the jobs we created, and the communities we serve. We aren’t going to take a ‘wait and see’ approach on tariffs. We aren’t going to ignore issues like energy, labor, and legal reform.”

Courter encouraged dealers to get involved, starting with AIADA’s Washington Fly-In this spring. “If you think nothing gets done in Washington, I challenge you to join us in May at our Fly-In. Taking part in old fashioned shoe-leather advocacy works.”

In a departure from other Annual Meeting and Luncheons, AIADA recognized its past chairs in lieu of presenting the David F. Mungenast, Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award. After asking them to stand to be recognized for their outstanding contributions and leadership in the industry, Courter noted, “AIADA is stronger because of your leadership, more agile because of your vision, and more accomplished thanks to your unflagging commitment to fighting the good fight in Washington, D.C.”

AIADA’s past chairs have included the industry’s most visionary leaders, and Courter said that they “are an inspiration to young dealers just starting out and a reminder to all dealers that our strength lies in our unity.”

As AIADA celebrates its 50th year, don’t forget to get involved. Register for AIADA’s Washington Fly-In happening May 4-5 and invite your member of Congress to your dealership as part of AIADA’s Dealer Visit Program.