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AIADA Auto Summit: an annual pilgrimage

April 13, 2012
By Ray Mungenast, AIADA Chairman
 
For 20 years I, along with some of my family members and key managers, have taken an annual pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. We don’t go for the cherry blossoms or the free museums. We come for the AIADA’s Annual International Auto Industry Summit – and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
 
Is it convenient to travel halfway across the country for a two-day visit? As the co-owner of a dealership group that employs more than 500 people, I can say absolutely not. But as a dealer whose employees count on me, and as a father and husband who works to provide for his family, I can also say that it is absolutely necessary.
 
I make room in my schedule for the AIADA summit because, when it comes down to it, the government is my business partner. It influences almost every aspect of what I do – from the taxes I pay to the cars I sell. Ignoring that fact could cost me and my employees everything we have worked for. Traveling to D.C. and establishing a presence among the people who wield so much control over this industry is an essential part of being a successful dealer.
 
Sometime soon, maybe even this year, Congress or the administration will propose a law that could cripple your business. I have seen it happen a dozen times since I got involved in this business. Maybe it will be an expansion of the Chicken tax or the estate tax or the luxury tax. Maybe it will be new regulations that classify dealers as banks, or hold our manufacturers to pie-in-the-sky standards. Maybe it will be something even more insidious, like televised hearings that attack and degrade our brands without reason.
 
It all has happened before, and it will happen again. Count on this, though: the AIADA will be on the front lines, pushing back against the legislation and arranging for a public relations campaign to protect our small businesses.
 
The reason the AIADA is so effective at what it does is, in large part, because of the dealers. A small but active group who attend the summit every year and have built meaningful relationships with their lawmakers. Those relationships are invaluable when a crisis hits.
 
This year, as AIADA chairman, I ask all dealers to consider making the trip with me to D.C. As the partisanship in Washington becomes more heated, and as the government becomes more entrenched in our industry, it is crucial that our small percentage of active dealers gets a lot larger, and a lot louder.
 
The AIADA puts together a packed program – this year featuring former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, political analyst Charlie Cook, congressional speakers, and a panel of top executives to answer your questions. The AIADA will also arrange your Capitol Hill visits from start to finish. I promise you, your time in D.C. will be entertaining, educational and, most importantly, an investment in your future.
 
Register today at www.aiada.org/events. I look forward to seeing you May 23-24 in Washington, D.C.
 
 

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