Chicago Automobile Trade Association

Hundreds flock to Washington to step up dealer advocacy efforts

September 20, 2019
More than 450 new-car and -truck dealers and association executives traveled to the nation’s capital Sept. 16 and 17 to take part in the National Automobile Dealers Association’s 45th annual Washington Conference and Congressional fly-in, stepping up their advocacy efforts to shape the federal laws and regulations that will impact their industry for years to come.
The second day of the conference kicked off at the JW Marriott Washington D.C. with a breakfast hosted by NADA PAC. Then the NADA member advocates fanned out across Capitol Hill to attend more than 200 congressional appointments to discuss trade, tariffs, recall legislation and repeal of the federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks. "We are in the 11th hour," said Donovan Bertsch, president of Theel Inc. in Bottineau, North Dakota, and chairman of NADA PAC. "We cannot take today for granted. It’s up to you to push for what you want for your business."
That sense of urgency was threaded through comments made by NADA President Peter Welch, who noted that while the NADA and its members have tallied up "a string of legislative victories over the last few years, we still have a full plate. There is a lot of static over the horizon."
Charlie Gilchrist, a dealer in metro Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and the 2019 NADA chairman, spoke about how dealers need to shape and sometimes even change public perception of the industry among Congress, the media, and communities and customers. "If you think we can shape perception of dealers, then you are in the right place," Gilchrist said. "The reality of our industry is that we must communicate when we go to the Hill."
The power of individuals taking action together on behalf of the entire industry was a common theme throughout the morning session. Jodie Teuton, chairwoman of the American Truck Dealers, called on conference attendees to join commercial truck dealers and dealer association executives, as well as The Modernize the Truck Fleet coalition, in supporting legislation that would repeal the federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks and trailers.
Two regulatory officials, two congressmen (one from each side of the aisle) and journalism legend Bob Woodward rounded out the impressive roster of speakers at the morning session.


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