Rising to the challenge

BC Auto Industry Conference tackled issues facing the auto industry


British Columbia dealers gathered recently in the mountain resort municipality of Sun Peaks for the annual BC Auto Industry Conference.

Held by the New Car Dealers Association of BC (NCDA), the jam-packed event brings dealers, industry suppliers, partners and government stakeholders together to discuss issues facing the auto sector and the province.

The event kicked off with a fun Amazing Race Adventure Challenge before dealers got together to tackle industry issues head on.

Blair Qualey, President & CEO of NCDA, told dealers that the conference would be ‘a bit of a marathon.’ Attendees heard from a range of speakers covering topics from digital marketing, to cyber threats, legal issues and opportunities within the auto industry.

“Hearing all of these speakers will remind them that you’ve got to keep informed. Everything is changing so quickly, all the time. If you take your eye off the ball, you’re not going to get across the finish line,” said Qualey in an interview with Canadian auto dealer.

The event kicked off with a special video message from John White, President & CEO of Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA), who provided an overview and update on some key issues the association is working on, such as new vehicle recall legislation and the Bank Act.


“We try to remind dealers that it’s not just about the provincial association — we are part of a federation of provincial associations,” said Qualey to Canadian auto dealer.

Michael Hatch, Chief Economist for CADA, also provided an advocacy and economic update, covering issues such as small business tax issues, auto debt and the resurgence of vehicle leasing.

Craig Wilson, Director of Digital Marketing Data Support for DrivingSales in the U.S., presented key findings from recent research on today’s modern shopper. The research covered thoughts and feelings that drive perceptions about the car buying process, experiences that lead to engagement and what customers want in their retail experience.

Michael Weiler, lawyer with Mike Weiler Employment + Labour Law, and Roderick McCloy, lawyer with Shapiro Hankinson & Knutson, shared the ins and outs of succession planning and
how to handle family feuds. Both lawyers shared tips on drafting written employment and shareholder agreements to help address issues before they go awry.

Hon. Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure for the province joined Qualey on stage for a Q&A session on issues related to auto industry employment in the province, luxury taxes and the Vancouver Auto Show, among others.

Finding good, skilled workers in the auto industry is one of the biggest challenges for dealers, said Qualey. But that afternoon, dealers heard from Kevin Baumgart, VP of Business Development at Hireology, on how to attract top-tier candidates, and millennials in particular.

In addition, dealers also learned about some of the myths in the auto remarketing sector, along with handling cyber security threats and preparing for them.

The conference capped off with the Chairman’s Dinner Gala, which featured a special presentation from Special Olympics BC and a live auction with ADESA.

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