Minority Dealer Associations Scaling Back Their Participation in Annual NADA Convention

General Motors’ Minority Dealer Association has announced that it will not participate in next month’s National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando, Florida.

Executive director Marjorie Staten said her group usually holds meeting with GM’s minority dealer development unit prior to and in conjunction with the annual convention, but GM has announced that it will neither exhibit at the NADA show nor attend dealer meetings and receptions.

Among the minority dealer events being scrapped are a banquet for Chrysler minority dealers, an NADA-sponsored breakfast and a scholarship banquet.

GM says its decision to scale back its involvement in the convention was based on economic factors.

Staten said another reason for her association’s decision to forgo the convention is the fact that some members are among those who will have their franchises revoked by next October.

Some of these wind-down dealers are involved in negotiations with GM in accordance with a memorandum of understanding that was finalized last month. The agreement between GM and the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers provides rejected dealers the opportunity to apply for additional funding to assist them in their wind-down efforts. That assistance is crucial for many NAMAD dealers who simply don’t have the resources needed to pursue reinstatement through the arbitration process.

Staten said that of particular concern is the cancellation of the organization’s annual scholarship banquet. For the past 22 years, GM Minority Dealers Association has presented between 20 to 25 deserving students with $2,500 college scholarships during a black-tie banquet that many considered the highlight of the annual NADA convention. Staten said GMAC and other large supporters significantly reduced their contributions to the program in 2009.

NADA declined to comment when asked why it had canceled its annual minority dealer breakfast.

GM’s minority dealers are not the only ones feeling the effects of the current economic climate. The Alliance of Ford Motor Minority Dealers has cancelled its annual board meeting which is traditionally held at the NADA convention. Executive director Oswaldo Garcia said the organization, which is composed primarily of Hispanic members, has scaled back from quarterly, face-to-face events to meeting just twice a year. Garcia said, “We’re doing more conference calls and saving our money.”

Chrysler’s Minority Dealers Association plans attend the NADA convention. The association’s president, Jerry Dillard, said the organization will hold meetings and elect new officers but has decided not to hold its annual banquet. In past years, the banquet has provided the association an opportunity to honor its members and celebrate their achievements during the previous year. There’s nothing to celebrate, said Dillard in reference to the cancellation of this year’s banquet.

For more auto industry news, go to www.everycarlisted.com.

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