In his first address as 2019 NADA Chairman, Charlie Gilchrist urged every franchised dealer to get involved in NADA, saying that the auto retail sector needs engaged and active association members “now more than ever.”
“I want you to think of your association as your second identity,” Gilchrist said during his Saturday keynote address at the 2019 NADA Show in San Francisco. “It’s always a part of you, and it’s always there. That’s a big deal, whether you’ve been working in this industry for decades or you’re just getting started.”
“My challenge to each of you today is to get involved,” he said. “You are not ‘part’ of NADA. You are not just ‘a member’ of NADA. You are NADA.”
Gilchrist, president of Gilchrist Automotive – which includes Buick-Chevrolet-GMC, Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen franchises at five dealership locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area – reminded a packed ballroom in the Moscone Center that the franchised dealer model is by the far the best and most-efficient vehicle distribution model in the world – and will remain so well into the future. But he also spoke of some significant challenges that dealers large and small will have to confront in the coming years.
“Profitability in our new-vehicle department is a serious issue. This means we have to be better, and more creative, at running the rest of the store,” he said. “We must adapt to this reality to survive in this new world.”
And Gilchrist urged the entire auto industry, including manufacturers, to unite behind the recently-announced NADA Foundation Workforce Initiative, saying that the auto retail sector’s critical shortage of service technicians “is not a can we can afford to kick down the road.”
“Our future depends on our ability to recruit, train, and retain the best people,” Gilchrist said. “We will need 76,000 more service technicians each year between now and 2026. But only around 37,000 new techs are graduating each year from technical schools. That’s a shortage of 39,000 technicians per year.”
“The new NADA Foundation website – nadafoundation.org – is the only place where someone who is thinking about becoming a tech can learn where all the training centers are, public and private, in one place, regardless of OEM; learn where all the potential scholarships are, in every state, in one place; and learn from other technicians about what their jobs and lifestyles are like.”
“We want the whole industry to back one initiative that is critical for all of us,” Gilchrist said. “This is an initiative for our future.”
The NADA Show runs from Jan. 24-27 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. More than 22,000 total attendees – which includes U.S. new-car dealers and commercial-truck dealers and their managers, international dealers from 37 countries, automaker executives, exhibitor staff, allied industry professionals and media – are meeting this week in San Francisco over the four-day show.