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Next week, new car dealers from across the nation will head to the nation’s capital for the American International Automobile Dealers Association’s 6th Annual International Auto Industry Summit. We sent a few questions to AIADA president Cody Lusk to learn what the Summit is all about and what dealers can be looking forward to this year. Read the Q&A with Lusk below and go to www.aiada.org for more information about the Auto Summit on May 23-24, 2012.
BCC: Why is it important for dealers to attend the Auto Summit?
CL: AIADA’s work in Washington depends on the active engagement of its dealer members. Dealers must begin building positive relationships with their elected officials in order to help them understand the names, faces, and issues that impact their businesses on a daily basis. To that end, AIADA’s Summit gives dealers the knowledge and understanding of the issues at play and helps them learn how to effectively engage their elected officials, particularly in this election year. However, beyond simply equipping them, the Summit also gives dealers the chance to put their knowledge to work by coordinating meetings on Capitol Hill for those who request them.
I believe that the chance to hear directly from dealers – who are some of the biggest employers and tax payers in their districts and states – will help legislators build a better picture of how policy trickles down to the communities they represent and help them make more informed legislative decisions.
– Cody Lusk, AIADA President
BCC: What issues will you be focusing on at this year’s Summit?
CL: Issues like global trade, tax policy, and a dearth of federal regulations play an ongoing role in the lives of our dealer members. We’ll be focusing on these and other issues and their part in our national elections. Speakers like Charlie Cook of The Cook Political Report and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour will provide insight into the forces that are driving the legislative and political world this campaign season, while our always-popular industry executive Q&A panel will connect dealers directly with the perspective of several OEMs.
BCC: What’s the most important aspect of connecting dealers with their legislators on Capitol Hill?
CL: Building relationships is, without a doubt, the most important part of connecting dealers with their legislators. Today’s Senators and Representatives must constantly navigate an array of voices and opinions. I believe that the chance to hear directly from dealers – who are some of the biggest employers and tax payers in their districts and states – will help legislators build a better picture of how policy trickles down to the communities they represent and help them make more informed legislative decisions.
While writing letters and making phone calls is certainly good for dealers to do, taking the time to build relationships with their members through one-on-one interaction is the next step they can take to be more effective.
Issues like global trade, tax policy, and a dearth of federal regulations play an ongoing role in the lives of our dealer members.
BCC: What are you hoping to achieve this year during the Summit? What are the association’s legislative priorities for 2012?
CL: Our priorities this election year are aimed at reducing the federal footprint in the lives of our international nameplate dealer members. For dealers, the federal government is, unfortunately, one of their biggest business partners.
More than in years past, the 2012 Summit is aimed at helping dealers realize what is on the line as Americans go to the polls, and how they can play a role in shaping federal legislation that is favorable to their businesses.
BCC: How is the election year impacting dealers’ interest in the political process?
CL: The past few years have been among the most turbulent our industry has ever experienced. More than in previous election years, dealers have realized what a heavy hand the federal government can have when it comes to operating their businesses. They have also learned from recent events that nothing is certain in today’s economy and political environment.
The dealer of 2012 is far more engaged and in-tune with the political process, and I expect that dealers will play a bigger role than ever as the campaign season kicks into high gear.