Not unlike the uncertainty brought in 2020 and 2021 with the coronavirus pandemic, 2008 and 2009 was a difficult time for dealers. Both time periods tested dealers and their businesses, but dealers are strong and nimble and able to tackle disruption or overcome the challenges that come their way.
During 2008, Annette Sykora was at the helm as NADA chairwoman, the first woman leading the organization during one of the industry’s most challenging economic and regulatory times in decades. As chairwoman during this tumultuous time, and as domestic automakers were seeking aid, Sykora testified before Congress to the House Financial Services Committee, highlighting the vital role dealers play in the success or failure of an automaker and the value of the country’s franchised new-car dealers in their local communities. In addition to strongly supporting the struggling domestic auto industry, Sykora helped dealers navigate fuel economy standards. Sykora later shared, when reflecting on her time as chairwoman, that it was a “very proud moment to represent the dealers in 2008. It was kind of when everything broke loose – or fell apart.”
Sykora’s road to NADA chairwoman began nearly 30 years earlier when a teenager. Sykora, began working as a title clerk at her family’s dealership. After attending Texas Tech University, she nurtured her passion for selling cars, becoming financial services manager, then general manager. After graduating from NADA Academy in 1988, she ultimately became dealer principal.
After her term as NADA chairwoman, Automotive News honored Sykora by naming her to their roster of 100 Leading Women.
Today, Sykora is dealer principal of Smith South Plains Ford Lincoln in Levelland, Texas, and remains an active force in the industry as chairwoman of the NADA Foundation, where she helped launch the NADA Workforce Initiative in 2018.
Stay tuned throughout the month for more articles profiling women driving auto retail forward, and for more information on NADA’s Women Driving Auto Retail initiative.