This week the auto retail industry will converge on New Orleans to honor and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Automobile Dealers Association. That is quite a milestone.
It is amazing to realize that this pillar of the auto world is 100 years young.
I have always thought how smart the pioneers in the auto business were to have turned to franchised dealers to share the capital investment. Automakers were more than happy to let dealers inventory the cars and parts required for service and do the marketing while the factories concentrated on engineering, designing and manufacturing vehicles. It is a system that has worked extremely well for the past century.
I also marvel that dealers survived when the industry became part of the "Arsenal of Democracy" and turned into a war machine. Retailers had to get by without new cars to sell. Parts to keep cars on the road were scarce. Rubber and gasoline were rationed, and most of their employees were serving in the military. It was quite a feat to keep the nation's cars running and stay in business.