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President of Mississippi dealer association thanks his counterparts

November 22, 2010

Editor’s note: The following is an Oct. 7 open letter from Mississippi Automobile Dealers Association President William Lehman to his fellow automobile trade association executives. 

Sorry I missed the Washington Conference . . . but I’ve been busy dealing with the obvious.  The storm was 60 miles wide and took 10 hours to move through our Coastal Area.   Just a few comments and then I’ll let you get back to more important things.

 

First and foremost, I want to "Thank" each of you for your efforts that resulted in the overwhelming support for Katrina Relief Funds from both your Associations and individual dealer members. 

I know I speak for (Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association Executive Vice President) Bob Israel as well when I say your help was—and still is—sincerely appreciated by dealership employees personally devastated by Katrina. And in Bob’s case, Hurricane Rita as well.

 

Secondly, I want you all to know that from day one, the leadership at the NADA, (Jack Kain, Phil Brady and Bruce Kelleher) each offered to assist my efforts in Mississippi and have exceeded any expectations I might have had. 

They basically allowed me to temporarily operate as an in-state administrator of the NADCF, and to represent the Foundation by visiting dealerships and both distributing assistance applications and writing checks for employees.

 

I have now personally visited at least twice all 43 dealerships that were located in the seven counties declared "disaster areas" by FEMA.   Three were completely "gone;" the rest were all what I’ve decided to describe as "operational," in terms of their condition. 

More import, I’ve distributed over $500,000 to dealers who in turn have handed that to their employees.

 

I’ve seen "Bubbas" in baseball caps "tear up" and I’ve stood in showrooms during my second visit and had employees quietly walk up, introduce themselves and say "Thank You." 

Every employee’s hardships were similar but different.  The Foundation’s financial support was the common denominator that all could use.  It’s been an emotionally rewarding experience.

 

I anticipate that another $250,000 in applications is still in the pipeline, but the recovery is underway here. 

New-car sales to contractors are really  strong. Service and body shop business is also strong, and the insurance checks to replace motor vehicles haven’t even hit the consuming public yet.

 

Again, thanks to you all. I know who gets the ball rolling. 

 

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