Sandy Liguori - Tada President 2011-2012
This is my final Wheels column as president of the newly-formed Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA). It’s hard to believe that a full year has flown by so fast.
When I began writing this column last May, the North American auto industry was still clawing its way back from some challenging setbacks (global economic crisis, the restructuring of GM and Chrysler, natural disasters in Asia, supply chain disruptions).
Fortunately, our industry is on the road to recovery, with steadily increasing new car sales, a profusion of new models in all categories, and a recharged public appetite for all things automotive, as evidenced by the success of this year’s auto shows.
It’s been a pleasure writing for Wheels, and I’d like to thank the Toronto Star for providing this forum to present my views and opinions. Meeting a weekly deadline has given me a new appreciation for editors and journalists and the vital role they play in our society.
This column has provided plenty of constructive feedback from fellow dealers, industry peers and readers. I’m proud to report that all of my columns generated reader responses — some more so than others.
The purpose of this column, written from a new car dealer’s perspective, has always been to inform and educate readers on topics related to buying, selling, servicing and maintaining automobiles.
Although I’ve tried to be fair and honest, not all of my views have been warmly received. A few columns managed to strike a nerve with readers and generated a flood of passionate responses, which is to be expected given the Star’s wide circulation and readership.
One of the themes of this column, since its inception 10 years ago, has been to improve the public image of car dealers.
Decades ago, the auto industry in Canada was not as regulated as it is today, and the regrettable actions of a few bad apples tarnished our reputation.
Today, dealerships, as separate business entities, are among the most heavily regulated and closely scrutinized in all of Canada. We are regulated by the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), and our business activities must comply with the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act.
Yet, despite the enforcement of OMVIC guidelines and various consumer protections, and the transparency with which we operate our businesses, the retail auto industry still suffers from a negative image.
The truth is Ontario dealers are a hard-working group who employ almost 50,000 people at 1,191 dealerships across the province, people who are your neighbours, friends, relatives and acquaintances. We sell over one million vehicles per year and handle millions of business transactions, and 99 per cent of those transactions are problem-free.
As has been well documented in this column, dealers give back generously to their communities and often serve in leadership roles (coaching amateur sports, mentoring businesspeople, and organizing fundraising drives).
At the end of the day, car dealers and their employees provide products and services that customers want. They take pride in their work and the services that they provide.
Another theme of this column has been the ongoing efforts to educate the younger generation about the benefits and opportunities of working in our industry. I’m proud of the TADA’s partnerships with Centennial College and the Automobile Business School of Canada (formerly the Canadian Automotive Institute at Georgian College in Barrie), both of which provide excellent education and training for the pursuit of a career in the auto industry.
Next week, Frank Romeo, dealer principal at Pine View Hyundai, will take over the reigns as a columnist in Wheels. As the newly-formed Trillium Automobile Dealers Association’s new president, Frank brings more than three decades of experience to his role and he looks forward to sharing his view in these pages.
Thank you to all Wheels readers — it’s been a great ride!