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Chairman'S message

June 19, 2023

Dear Dealer,

As my term in office as 2022/2023 CATA Chairman comes to an end and I take over responsibilities for the 2024 Chicago Auto Show, I would like to reflect on the many CATA accomplishments during the past year.

After two years of Covid, 2022/2023 brought some normalcy back to the CATA. However, we were not bereft of challenges.

On the legal front, we remain hopeful that the legal challenge to Rivian filed several years ago will ultimately prevail.

We are also extremely supportive of the State of Illinois’ efforts to uphold the recent warranty modifications which have been challenged in a lawsuit filed against the state by Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. The CATA recently responded to a discovery request in this matter.

The CATA also responded to a discovery request in the dealer suit brought against Ford Motor Company challenging the legality of Ford programs involving the sale and distribution of electric vehicles.

Finally, the CATA determined that in the interest of dealer unity it would set forth a generous proposal to settle its ongoing litigation with a group of dealers who defected from the New Car Dealer committee to strike their own agreement with Local 701. That litigation has now been settled, and the CATA has invited each of those dealers to rejoin the CATA and hopefully avail themselves of the benefits the CATA provides.

I think we know that the Chicago Auto Show is the financial engine that drives many of the CATA activities. The 2023 Auto Show was a greatly enhanced version of the two previous (Covid) shows, with increased exhibit space (back to both the North and South halls in McCormick Place,) a well-attended and profitable ($2.6 million) First Look for Charity, seven indoor test tracks and four outdoor test drive opportunities, and greatly expanded media and social media coverage.

Leading the way to the 2023 Chicago Auto Show was a new event, Chicago Drives Electric, held last fall, also with terrific media coverage and available test drives for consumers. This event was so well received by OEMs and customers that it will be repeated this year at the end of September.

The CATA Media Strategy Committee directs approximately $500,000 in CATA funding per year, with extraordinary enhancements provided by our media partners, toward the Chicago Auto Show, Chicago Drives Electric, BBQ for the Troops, DriveChicago, and other worthwhile events.

The CATA Civic and Dealer Relations Committee continued with the sixteenth year of the Chicagoland Dealers Care program, with continued CATA funding and CATA contributions to dealer-sponsored charity events in the community; and with the tenth BBQ for the Troops, which has to date raised over $1 million for the USO.

The CATA Government Relations Committee directs the approximate $130,000 the CATA annually contributes to state and local officials, and well as the funds that NADA annually contributes to federal officials representing Illinois. The Committee also monitors pending bills in the Illinois legislature and consults with our Springfield lobbyist, Scott Marquardt, to take appropriate action as needed. The Committee works hand in hand with NADA, attending the annual NADA Washington Conference, meeting with Congressmen, and encouraging dealers to contribute to NADA PAC.

The CATA Drive Chicago Committee is in the midst of a major restructuring of the DriveChicago website in its efforts to maintain DriveChicago as the definitive website for vehicle purchases in the Chicagoland area.

The CATA Finance, Pension, Audit, and Compensation Committee has worked diligently to find ways to increase CATA revenues and decrease costs, insuring that the CATA remains a dominant source of dealer benefits in the future. The reduced Board of Directors size and reduced number of staff have let to cost efficiencies and better management. Aligned in this mission, the CATA Member Benefits Committee continually researches and vets allied companies in an effort to provide worthwhile programs and cost efficiencies to CATA members and to the CATA itself.

The CATA Employee Benefits Committee continually seeks out new ways to provide benefits to all CATA members at reasonable costs. To that end the Committee is examining alternative roles that the CATA can play in providing the important member benefits the CATA provides.

The CATA Nominating Committee recently reached out to the entire dealer body, and will continue to do so, to seek out qualified hand raisers to serve on the CATA Board of Directors. The Committee is dedicated to choosing knowledgeable candidates of the highest integrity to serve on the CATA Board.

My appreciation goes out to the 13 members of the CATA Board of Directors who served so diligently this past year; to the CATA staff, especially Jen Morand, who completed her first year as CATA Co-President, Dave Sloan, who will be serving his final year in 2023/2024 as CATA Co-President, and Chis Konecki, who serves as Executive Vice President and is so knowledgeable about the Chicago Auto Show. Also, I am grateful for the continued wise counsel provided by our longtime General Counsel, Dennis O’Keefe.

I congratulate Kelly Webb Roberts on her election as CATA Chairwoman for 2023/2024. Kelly comes from a great automobile family, is extremely able and dedicated, as will provide strong leadership during the upcoming year.

Enclosed is a summary of actions taken by the CATA Board of Directors during the past twelve months.


J.C. Phelan
CATA Chairman 2022/2023

Chicago Automobile Trade Association
18W200 Butterfield Rd.
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181 
(630) 495-2282


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