Looking Back and Ahead

By Jeffrey Bellant January 21, 2023 164

Here’s to 2023 being better than 2022.

That may be wishful thinking as waves of job cuts are hitting and though inflation is ticking down it’s still far higher than its been over the past 30 years.

Employment remains strong, which looks like an outlier.

I’m no economist, so what do I know? 

But we had some good things in 2022. 

The public shook off pandemic restrictions, which brought back live in-person events that were better than ever.

The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association returned to Sin City with a great show, featuring informational panels and an entertaining keynotes from Jon Taffer of “Bar Rescue” fame.

Taffer didn’t need a microphone. He could probably be heard even at a Bellant family get-together.

Panels on buy-here, pay-here dealers, 20 groups and an all-women panel provided some great discussions and information.

Texas dealer Tommy Gregory won National Quality Dealer and Dale Pollak, founder of vAuto, was selected into the NIADA’s Ring of Honor.

The National Auto Auction Association also held an outstanding show in Dallas, featuring country music singer Jake Owens as entertainment.

In the lively political panel, national pundits Donna Brazile (Democrat) and Michael Steele. (Republican), actually agreed on something.

They both predicted there would be no “red wave” and – shocker! – they were right,

This may be a first ever in the world of punditry.

Honors were given to industry leaders Ray Nichols, R. Tony Wolfe, Warren Byrd, Paul Seger, Sandy Schwartz.

The highlight for me was watching NAAA leaders compete in armadillo races.

Yes, armadillo races.

Obviously, Akron Auto Auction’s Chad Bailey was involved because – armadillo races!

But the surprise was Laura Taylor, senior vice president of America’s Auto Auction, who participated– in heels.

(For the record, when a “fun” event involves wildlife and the requirement to sign a waiver, count me out.)

By the way, did you know armadillos can leap?!

Joking aside, the event was a great success.

The NAAA owes a big thanks to CEO Tricia Heon, who recently stepped down from her position after years of service in the organization.

Many industry leaders credited her with one of NAAA’s best conventions.

The NAAA returns to Dallas this week for its spring meeting held in conjunctios with the National Auto Dealers Association show, a change Heon shepherded last year.

Speaking of leadership changes, NIADA made its own change a month earlier as CEO Bob Voltmann stepped down after only two years at the helm.

NIADA named Melanie Wilson as interim CEO, the first woman to hold the position in the association’s history. She previously served as chief financial officer.

The industry faces many changes, including the continued efforts of government and manufacturers to transition to electric vehicles.

The EV footprint is growing, but the future faces challenges. During last year’s NAAA convention, panelists on an EV panel did a fair and fantastic job of showing both the promise and obstacles as we move into the EV era.

I look forward to seeing how the industry conquers these challenges because it always does.

Entrepreneurs like the used-car dealers and auto auction owners represented by this industry remain the lifeblood of the American economy.

As for me and my house, we’ll remain optimistic.

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Last modified on Saturday, 21 January 2023 18:17