The Industry Must Promote its Quality Dealers!

By Jeffrey Bellant September 09, 2021 1094

The National Independent Automobiles Dealers Association recently named Georgia’s Lee Cavender as this year’s National Quality Dealer during its annual convention.

For those who couldn’t attend the National Quality Dealer (NQD) event, it is always streamed live online – that’s how I watched it this year – and it should be required viewing by anyone in the used-car industry.

Listening to the stories of used-car dealers who run strong businesses while also serving their communities is a great thing.

The NQD online broadcast is probably the best legacy left by Mike Linn, CEO Emeritus and the former longtime CEO of NIADA.

Linn and Michael Marashlian, the show’s former “broadcast guru,” were a couple of the players behind the live event which has become a wonderful way to promote NQD to a wider audience.

Word on the street is Linn and Marashlian were hanging out virtually while watching the recent NQD online to see how their baby has grown.

We all know the mainstream media rarely tell good stories about the industry and trade publications like this one aren’t read by consumers.

So, the job of telling good dealer stories remains with the industry and the dealers themselves.

There are a lot of good stories, too, and they don’t just come from the national winner.

The NQD is chosen from a selection of state Quality Dealers. Not every state names a winner every year, but every state winner has a great story.

For example, during the week of the NIADA event, I was covering the Michigan IADA annual golf outing where it named its Quality Dealer of the Year, Jim Van Paemel of Victory Motors.

“He does things the right way,” said Joe Kuhta, Michigan IADA’s treasurer, who presented the award. “He’s done it the right way forever, He’s a good man, he’s a humble man.

“I’m privileged to stand up here and introduce him.”

Van Paemel got his start as a gas station owner. But when he saw that business was doing poorly, he sold it. After starting at an AMC dealership, he bought a small car lot in Mount Clemens, Mich., in 1982.

The first Victory Motors store opened in Warren, Mich., in 1994.

Today, Van Paemel has stores in Chesterfield Twp., Royal Oak and Wyandotte. He has three children and his daughter, Sara, is general manager.

“We’re really proud as an organization to have him as a member of our team,” Kuhta said.

Even after more than four decades of success, Van Paemel is still thinking about the future, warning about the big used-car chains and corporate stores.

He urged dealers to get behind their state associations to defend their turf and their livelihoods.

“We’ve got to be stronger,” he said. “They won’t run us out of business, but they’ll regulate us out of business.”

In attendance that day was Otto Hahne, owner of City of Cars and the 2019 Michigan IADA Quality Dealer.

Hahne went on to win the National Quality Dealer Award.

My advice to any dealer who wins a state Quality Dealer Award or the NQD?

Promote the heck out of it.

It’s not just about you, it’s about the industry. The general public needs to hear your story. Your community needs to hear your story. Government officials and regulators need to hear your story.

Dealers are too hesitant, or humble, to toot their own horns. But I would argue that it’s not just about the individual dealership. Putting that story out makes the industry look good, in the same way a bad story hurts the industry.

So many of you dealers are doing great things in your neighborhoods. You are serving on school boards or as church elders, or funding schools, youth sports and local charities. You support food banks, Toys for Tots and military veterans.

Your businesses are part of the lifeblood of your neighborhoods.

People need to hear these stories.

Tell them.


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Last modified on Thursday, 07 October 2021 04:17