AIADA's Washington Fly-In

Events 04/09/19

April 9, 2019 at 04:00 pm

Washington D.C., JW Marriott, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW , Washington, District Of Columbia, United States


In April, hundreds of international nameplate auto dealers descended upon Washington, D.C., for a two-day crash course in current politics, industry trends, and an opportunity to shape the future of their businesses by meeting one-on-one with their elected officials on Capitol Hill.

In total, more than 150 meetings were held with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, including leadership of both house and members from 32 states. Dealers tackled tough topics – like trade and tariffs – while also sharing crucial information with lawmakers about their impact on their local economies.

Erin Kerrigan, managing director of Kerrigan Advisors, an AIADA Affinity Partner and the leading sell-side advisor to auto dealers in the U.S., kicked off the Fly-In on Tuesday afternoon with an insightful analysis of the dealership buy/sell market. Her remarks were followed by a reception, and then a dinner featuring a presentation on machine learning and its application for dealer advertising from Google’s Senior Automotive Retail Strategist, Kelly McNearney. The keynote address was offered by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

In addition to an all-star lineup of speakers, diners were also treated to AIADA Chairman Howard Hakes’ presentation of the 2019 Fritz Hitchcock Advocacy Achievement Award to Pennsylvania Congressman and dealer Mike Kelly. Before showing a CSpan video of Rep. Kelly famously defending dealers to Rep. Maxine Waters on the House floor, Hakes told him, “Congressman, your work on the behalf of the auto industry has been tremendous, and your presence in the House of Representatives is a good reminder to dealers everywhere that we don’t have to sit back and take what the government serves us. We can fight back, we can change minds, and if all else fails, we can get elected!” 

Cody Lusk congratulated all the dealers in attendance for their participation and commitment to remaining engaged with their lawmakers.  “I appreciate every single one of you in the room tonight – because you are the dealers, and the manufacturers, and the industry reps who truly get it,” he told them.  “You know that you can’t just choose to stay away from politics because it’s a messy business. You understand that politicians are deeply involved in YOUR business, and it’s crucial that you have a say in their decisions.”

The next morning, Howard Hakes participated in a Q&A with Group One Automotive President and CEO Earl Hesterberg and fly-in attendees heard from Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy before they boarded buses to Capitol Hill. Armed with economic impact reports, the dealers were well prepared to persuade lawmakers that tariffs on autos and auto parts would have a detrimental impact on the entire auto industry as well as the American economy and American employment.