January 2013, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
Looking Back at 100 Issues
One hundred. That number means so much to so many people. To children in school, it equals perfection. To others, it seems to be a magic number tied to rankings, whether in music, sports or other areas. Generally, “100” is all good.
It can have a negative connotation, though. To someone in the medical field, it is an indicator of an illness or infection. In the summer time, many people consider 100-degree heat as oppressive.
Much has happened since our first issue of Auto Dealer Monthly was published, now 100 issues ago. We certainly have seen the good and the bad of an industry that is a cornerstone of everything American. This issue has tried to chronicle the most meaningful events as they relate to the retail auto industry, and trying to pare it down certainly wasn’t easy.
To me, it is hard to believe we have already reached 100 issues. We have done it with a team of very hard-working and dedicated people led by Harlene Doane, our director of operations, and Anna Hildebrandt, our national sales manager, both of whom have been with us since the beginning (actually long before). I am proud to say we have enjoyed little turnover among the staff and have become known at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville as one of the “go-to” places for students looking for intern programs. Following our just-completed sixth annual Subprime Conference and inaugural CRM Convention, I could not be prouder of them and the small-but-mighty team.
Auto Dealer Monthly is a controlled-circulation magazine supported solely by its advertising; I look back at 100 issues and am thankful for the tremendous support so many companies have given us?especially at the height of the depression years for the auto industry in 2008 and 2009. It is cliché to say we couldn’t have done it without them, but in this case it is 100 percent true. (There is that number again.)
Then there are the notable changes. Notwithstanding the list contained herein, I look at the significant ones in my world. I start with Facebook, since it first went online weeks after our first issue hit dealers’ desks. Now the cornerstone of social media, it is almost passé as it seems like someone is blogging every day on the best practices of Facebook and auto retailing.
Back in 2004, the retail industry was still selling new Pontiacs, Saturns, Hummers, Mercurys and even Saabs. A tricked-out, mack-daddy Hummer H2 was the thing back then?when a gallon of gas cost less than $2, of course. We were retailing 16 million new vehicles back then?a number we haven’t seen since the auto industry depression began four years ago.
Sadly, we lost thousands of dealers during that recession?some of them arbitrarily (and, I feel, criminally) terminated by Chrysler and General Motors, along with the government’s assistance. No different than sticking your finger in a bucket of water?the ripples it causes disappearing within seconds of removing it?the industry has moved forward and the monumental fallout and losses incurred during that period have been replaced by record profits, and we still aren’t even back above the 14.5 million seasonally adjusted annual rate yet. The best is yet to come!
Of course, in January 2004, I was still an Indiana resident (Boilermakers never say “Hoosier”); had not yet “invested” in highly-appreciating Florida real estate; thought I was enjoying moderating a whole host of 20 Groups; was a grandfather only one time (as opposed to five now); was still four years from even thinking about running 64 marathons; and, of course, hadn’t died the first time yet.
All I know is that even with all the ups and downs that the auto industry?let alone life?has given me, I am extremely thankful for making it to 100 issues, for the “100s” of new friendships and relationships it has given me. I am also very proud of the 100 percent our team always gives and am 100-percent sure there isn’t a better industry to be a part of.
Here’s to the next 100!
Until next month,