By Sheryll Poe, NADA Contributor

We promised we’d save the best for last and we did. NADA Show 2020 went out with a bang with a full day of education, networking, maker meetings and one-of-a-kind event programming including an exciting afternoon General Session featuring General Motors CEO Mary Barra.

“I’m proud to lead the company in one of the most exciting times in our industry,” said Barra, who has led GM for the last six years. She admitted she was a first time NADA Show attendee. “I’m just starting to understand the energy and importance of it.” Barra said. GM’s strategy is to put the customer at the center of everything and the company relies heavily on the dealership community to help GM do that. “It’s important to work with dealers. You’re the ones who have the relationship with the customer every day,” Barra said.

Barra then sat down with 2019 NADA Chairman Charlie Gilchrist for a wide-ranging fireside chat, where Gilchrist asked her how to get more women in the automotive industry. “It’s true in almost every industry: create an environment they want to be in.” She said everyone wants to do work that’s meaningful, be valued for what they do and have opportunities for growth. “You can hire diverse talent but if you don’t create an environment [they want to be in], they’re not going to stay.”

Diversity at the Dealership

This year’s NADA Show had more programming dedicated to diversity and inclusion than ever before, reflecting the evolving leadership, workforce and customer makeup displayed across the entire automotive retail sector of today. NADA Live Stage sessions focused on how to build a more diverse and inclusive dealership culture and how to attract more women to the industry.

Incoming NADA Chairman Rhett Ricart gave rousing remarks on the General Session main stage during the Show’s closing. One of his signature priorities for the next year as chairman is increasing and diversifying the automotive dealership workforce. He praised NADA’s new Women Driving Auto Retail initiative. “We must reflect our customers and our community.” See more of Ricart’s thoughts on women in automotive in this video.

More than 250 women and men gathered to celebrate the strides women have made in the automotive industry at the Women Driving Auto Retail brunch. Meanwhile, Scholfield Honda of Wichita, Kan. was announced as the winner of the #WomenInAutomotive video contest. Service Manager Jennifer Snodgrass was on hand to accept the award, which includes a $1,000 gift card plus complimentary registration to NADA Show 2021 in New Orleans and a $1,000 travel stipend.

Meanwhile, three of the five finalist 2020 Time Dealer of the Year were women, with Susan Moffitt of Moffitt Automotive of Shreveport, La., walking away with the top honor. And 2020 Truck Dealer of the Year Oscar Horton of Sun State International Trucks, LLC in Tampa, Fla., was recognized for his dealership management, service to the industry and community impact.

Building Strong Teams and Inspiring Success

The ever-popular Distinguished Speaker Series sessions finished out with two motivational sessions focused on teamwork. First, former professional baseball player, author and teamwork expert Mike Robbins explained why appreciation is one of the most powerful yet overlooked aspects of successfully motivating and empowering people and teams. In a separate session, six-time Emmy Award-winning comedian, writer and TV Host Ross Shafer talked about how to inspire teams to take charge of their own assignments, even when nobody is around to guide them.

For even more inspiration, watch this recap of Sunday’s KAR Global charity auction, which raised more than $97,000 for the NADA Foundation and Canine Companions for Independence.

ATD Chairman at the NADA Live Stage

The ATD Show closed out its final day on Sunday, but newly installed ATD Chairman Steve Bassett stayed to do a NADA Live Stage session with NADA’s Jonathan Collegio. He shared his goals and platform for ATD during his two-year term. See more of the ATD Show action in this video.

Following are a few more highlights from the final day of the Auto Industry Event of the Year:

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National Automobile Dealers Association