It was nearly 13 years ago when, while still a retail dealer, I launched AutoeDealer.com, the precursor to Auto Dealer Monthly. It was launched as much for self-preservation as a business opportunity. With as much time as I was spending in auto dealer association activities, which allowed me to work with both dealers and the allied industry, every day my office voicemail and e-mail would be filled with requests from both sides wanting to know which vendor or which dealer I knew that could help them with what they needed. The website was an easy way to connect both sides and take me out of the middle.
It started with a handful of advertisers — some that have been with us nearly all the way, like Dominion’s Interactive Financial Marketing Group. And at that time, there was no real business plan.
Along the way, something happened. The site blossomed, which forced me to change the name to AutoDealerDaily. com. The new URL represented, at the time, the way we were interacting with our dealer base. At the request of some of the advertisers we picked up along the way, we took it to print. Just more than nine years ago — now 104 issues ago — it became Auto Dealer Monthly magazine.
In 2007, in partnership with another publication, we launched what has now become our annual Subprime Conference. In partnership with Bobit Business Media and its annual conference, Industry Summit, the gathering boasted its largest attendance ever in 2012.
Throughout it all, I have had my tireless director of operations, Harlene Doane, at my side (well, from 900-plus miles), as well as my daughter Anna Hildebrandt. I am very proud of what we have accomplished, largely through their efforts. We have also made great friends along the way — dealers and people from industry vendors and finance companies alike. I am so thankful for all those relationships.
As many of you know, my true passion is industry education. I spend the majority of my time speaking, training or consulting in the industry, whether it is with retail dealers or auto finance companies. I truly love it. Also, as many of you know,
I suffered a significant health event two years ago.
Finally, this summer and fall, I found myself working days and hours as long or longer than I did 11 years ago when I first made the tough decision to simplify my life in order to preserve it, giving me time to be with my family and do more meaningful things than just those with dollar signs attached. Somehow, I had managed to come full circle, only this time with mortality really staring me down.
The decision this time was much easier. We decided it was time to slow down and focus on what we (OK, maybe I) enjoy the most and was the impetus behind this magazine.
Additionally, since we have enjoyed a great relationship with our conference partner — which is not only a much bigger publisher, but one with whom we have worked and has the utmost integrity — it seemed a hand-in-glove fit.
Bobit Business Media (BBM) was absolutely the best company to not only take over Auto Dealer Monthly, but build on its foundation and grow it to new heights. I am excited for them and for us, because it will allow us to do what we really enjoy and we will continue to partner together on our conference. Additionally, Anna will stay with the magazine, as she truly enjoys working with her industry partners. I know that BBM will give her a very good home as well.
As for me, I won’t be far away. First, I offer thanks to everyone who has read, supported and corresponded with me over the past 13 years. Second, I will continue to write for BBM, so those looking for my thoughts and opinions won’t have to look anywhere else. And as we have done for the last two years, we will continue hosting our annual conferences in partnership with BBM. Finally, our new company, Used Car University, and its faculty will be visiting all corners of the United States as we build an unparalleled platform for dealer education on the sale and financing of used vehicles in North America.
Yes, I am slowing down, but with the addition of training partners, I will get to enjoy my slower life with just the right amount of travel. I look forward to the excitement and challenge of building the training platform with Harlene and a long-term relationship with Bobit Business Media and F&I and Showroom’s Publisher David Gesualdo. And, yes, I’m also excited about spending more time with my family and our boat. Thank you, readers, for all your support over the years. I look forward to sharing ideas with you for years to come.
And yes, until next month!