AIADA's 52nd Annual Meeting & Luncheon

Events 03/13/22

March 13, 2022 at 11:30 am

Westgate Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada,

Invested in America

On March 13, for the first time in two years, AIADA dealers gathered in person in Las Vegas during the 2022 NADA Show to hold the association’s 52nd Annual Meeting and Luncheon. This year’s event capped a weekend of celebration, including an industry reception hosted by AIADA on Friday evening at the Wynn Las Vegas, and featured the transfer of the chairman’s gavel from 2021 Chairman Steve Gates of Kentucky to 2022 Chairman John Connelly of Ohio.

AIADA President & CEO Cody Lusk kicked off Sunday’s luncheon by reminding dealers and manufacturers in attendance of the industry’s resilience.  “In my first speech at the helm of AIADA years ago, in this very room, I quoted the famous philosopher Mike Tyson who said, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’ Over the past two years, our association has more than proven we can take a punch and keep on fighting,” said Lusk.

For dealers, that punch in 2021 came in the form of a provision in President Biden’s Build Back Better plan that would have made $4,500 in electric vehicle tax credits available only to union-built vehicles. While AIADA and its members were successful in contributing to the bill’s defeat, AIADA’s leadership warned that dealers should expect to see similar discriminatory policies introduced in Capitol Hill over the coming years.

“As long as politicians exist, regardless of party, they will see a political advantage in promoting so-called ‘Buy American’ legislation,” said outgoing chairman Steve Gates. “They will discount our stores, our employees, and the massive investment our brands have make in the United States. They will come up with countless ways – including tariffs, regulations, and now discriminatory tax credits – to stack the deck against us.” Gates went on to assure attendees that AIADA is well prepared to fight back against such legislation and to remind lawmakers of the enormous investment international nameplate dealers and their brands have made in communities across the United States.

In 2022, the economic footprint of America’s international nameplate dealers has grown to more than 9,400 franchises from 25 brands. They employ 542,000 Americans with a total combined average payroll of $35.3 billion. As of 2020, their manufacturers are responsible for 46 percent of all vehicles built in the United States and 62 percent of all green vehicles sold here.

Chairman John Connelly highlighted that investment after accepting the Chairman’s gavel from Gates. “These manufacturers, and our dealerships, all create good, stable, well-compensated jobs that are NOT represented by a union.  That is a choice that workers should make for themselves, and our government should have the decency to respect it.  The bottom line is simple: Every single one of us in this room is invested in America. Our government should support our mission rather than trying to derail it.” Connelly, who is a former Capitol Hill Staffer and criminal lawyer, was acknowledged by his fellow AIADA board members as being uniquely qualified to head AIADA in the coming year. Gates said of him, “He has the experience, the understanding, and the energy it will take to make our message heard in the halls of power and keep our association moving forward.”

As an Acura dealer, Connelly noted that he was particularly pleased to introduce the luncheon’s keynote speaker, Dave Gardner. Gardner is the executive vice president of National Operations and general manager of Automobile Sales of American Honda, a company he has been with since 1989. In his remarks, Gardner told AIADA members that they would play a unique and vital role in the global transition toward electric vehicles. "Our shared objective is not to change what's powering a vehicle from an internal combustion engine to batteries. Our mission is reducing greenhouse gas emissions to address global climate change," Gardner said. "I believe that we can provide new value by becoming environmental consultants.”

Gardner went on to join the afternoon’s other speakers in emphasizing the deep and sustained investments in America made by companies like his. “If we look at the last 4 decades, from a manufacturing perspective, from a sales perspective, a dealer perspective, in fact any perspective, international brands are responsible for most of the growth in investment and employment in our industry.” He urged dealers to take advantage of the influence that investment produces, and make their voices heard through organizations like AIADA. “We should use the equity this provides us, the voice it gives us collectively, to take the lead on things our industry needs to address in the next 40 years. That is a critical role for AIADA.”

As the luncheon concluded, and dealers headed to the airport to return to their stores, Chairman Connelly left them with one final message: “The work done by the AIADA is crucial to protecting our businesses. Please continue to support the AIADA and spread the word that joining the cause of the AIADA is as important as anything else you can do to protect the future success of your business.” Click here to watch the recording of the 52nd Annual Meeting & Luncheon.

As an international nameplate dealer, you can be a part of AIADA’s mission. Register today for AIADA’s Washington Fly-In happening May 24-25 by visiting