Dealership Newsmaker Q&A: David Westcott

Jan. 1, 2020
In October, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) elected David Westcott as its chairman for 2013.
In October, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) elected David Westcott as its chairman for 2013. Westcott owns David Westcott Buick GMC Suzuki in Burlington, N.C., and has operated dealerships since 1981.

What do you think will be the biggest challenges that dealerships face in 2013?

We're still concentrating on a lot of the initiatives that started with the past chairmen, including the manufacturers' facilities and image programs, along with the two-tiered pricing discussions we're having.

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Regulations will continue to threaten our industry. You have the potential consequences of upcoming tax bills (or lack of tax bills) on our industry. There's the estate tax, which affects our dealers because many of them are family owned. There are a lot of regulations that are still to be determined, like how Dodd-Frank and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection will affect the banking industry. What consequences will that have?

There are things we don't have any control over, like the economy in Europe, which will have consequences for us over here. The industry there is pretty challenged at this point.

What are your top priorities for NADA heading into the new term? What goals/areas are you going to focus on?

I want to continue to pursue the initiatives that were started by the past chairman. I think a primary concern will be dealer profitability. I was in London recently, and it was refreshing to hear that there's an initiative between the manufacturers and the dealers over there, because they're all losing money. There is a groundswell of cooperation in Europe between manufacturers and dealers. They're working closer together to try and solve their problems, so they can both get a on a profitable path. That was refreshing to hear. Hopefully we can see more of that here.

Will NADA pursue any new programs specific to fixed operations?

One of the major roles of any association is education. We operate a dealer academy, along with NADA University. Dealers are starting to train their people again. During the recession, training was one thing that went away. We offer a lot of online training and webinars, with modules for every department and every employee. Our emphasis is going to be a push through NADA University to continue to support the body shop, service and parts through our training offerings.

What issues has the group been focused on during this election season that will impact dealers moving forward?

We'd like to see a more measured approach from the EPA. That's been an ongoing discussion. We're all in favor of higher miles per gallon. Those rules have already passed, but at this point we're still hopeful that in 2017 they will have a midterm review of the rules they came up with.

If the government dictates what vehicles have to be made, that doesn't mean those cars are going to sell. Dealers don't want those cars just sitting on their lots. It has to be market driven.

There's also the Tesla situation, in terms of non-company [direct sales] outlets. Most states have laws that prohibit manufacturers from selling direct. We're behind the franchise system. It works. It will be up to the individual state associations to determine what they want to do, but we will support them in any way we can.

About the Author

Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a freelance journalist based in Columbus, Ohio, who has been writing about manufacturing, technology and automotive issues since 1997. As an editor with Frontline Solutions magazine, he covered the supply chain automation industry for nearly eight years, and he has been a regular contributor to both Automotive Body Repair News and Aftermarket Business World.

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