NIADA Confirms Darrow as President

By Jeffery Bellant June 27, 2024
Michael Darrow was confirmed as NIADA president by dealer members at the organizations 2024 convention. NIADA 2024 took place in Las Vegas, NV., June 17-20. (image courtesy of NIADA) Michael Darrow was confirmed as NIADA president by dealer members at the organizations 2024 convention. NIADA 2024 took place in Las Vegas, NV., June 17-20. (image courtesy of NIADA)

LAS VEGAS – NIADA dealer members confirmed Michael Darrow as the 2024-2025 president during the group’s a contentious general meeting on opening day of its annual convention here June 17-20.

The meeting, scheduled for one hour, went over two hours long as the members argued in a closed-door members-only discussion over parliamentary procedure and a challenge to remove Darrow from the post.

The challenge came because of a recent fraud case involving Darrow’s dealership, The Auto Finders (TAF), in Durham, N.C.

Darrow’s wife, Carol Jean Darrow, 60, pled guilty April 16 in pursuant to a criminal information to failure to pay $346,775 in withheld employee payroll taxes. Carol managed the financial affairs of TAF, including approving payments to creditors and payroll taxes due, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina.

Michael Darrow chats with Lou Tedeschi during the convention.

Darrow said he knew nothing of the problem until his wife told him at the time of the court hearing. 

At the NIADA meeting, Darrow pled his case before the closed session started, telling dealers he was not attempting to lobby them but explain what transpired and protect the reputation of his business.

When he received the call from his wife on the day of the hearing, he said he was “shocked,” “furious” and “confused” at what happened. 

Darrow said people have questioned how he could not have known, but he said his accounting firm was also in the dark.

Darrow said the dealership has since paid the IRS “in full” and has hired an outside bookkeeper and outsourced payroll to another company.

He said he has invested thousands of hours in serving NIADA and loves the association and the industry.

“Trust me, I do not want anything to harm NIADA,” he said. “But in the same breath, I cannot stand here and allow NIADA to harm me for a situation I had not caused or had anything to do with.”

He added that the payroll issue did not harm any customer, vendor, floor planner or anyone else – “only the IRS and they have been paid in full.”

Darrow added he’s never been investigated by any other agency or institution and has a “strong reputation in our community.”

He said he serves on two boards in his community and neither of them has asked him to step down.

“I’ve served this industry for over 20 years on committees, board seats — both on the state level and the national level. I brought this to the membership today, not create any drama or division, but (because of) the simple fact that the membership voted me in, placed their confidence in me and provided me with the honor to serve on this board since 2019,” he said.

After his speech, the group began their deliberations and a vote to oust Darrow failed by a two-vote margin.

Michael Darrow makes his case at the NIADA membership meeting.

Following the meeting, some dealers commented on the proceedings.

“I’m 100% OK with it,” said Lou Tedeschi, an NIADA past president. “I’ve served with Michael. (He’s) a great guy. We all make mistakes in our business and you learn by it. Our job as board members and past presidents is to advise younger dealers not to make the same mistakes that we did. We’re all human.”

Tedeschi added because of the challenges to the indsutry in recent years, dealers need the association more than ever.

Darrow’s predecessor also commented immediately after the meeting.

“I will say this, I’m proud of the dealers because they handled their business, had their say and have the (slate) that they wanted,” said NIADA Chairman Gordon Tormohlen, following the meeting. “I have faith in the dealers. This is their association. They had their say, it’s over and we’re moving forward.”

Darrow said later during the convention that people who hadn’t voted for him came up and offered him “kind words” and their support now that the issue was settled.

The day after the vote, Darrow received the President’s Ring from Black Book’s Susan Moritz during the convention’s opening session.

“Good morning” Darrow said as his term began. “I really didn’t think I’d be up here this morning.”


Read UCN's Spotlight interview with NIADA President Michael Darrow.

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Last modified on Thursday, 27 June 2024 19:11