Auto Dealers Association Comes to End of Road

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – After more than half a century, the Automobile Dealers Association of Eastern Ohio is near the end of the road. The organization ceases operations Dec. 31.

Chuck Eddy, president of the association, made the announcement today. The decision to end the association, founded in 1964, follows a unanimous vote of the trustees of the association.

Steve Chos, executive vice president 26 years, and Cathy Swegan, administrative assistant 47 years, officially retire Dec. 31, Eddy said, although both will work through January to close the office in Liberty Township.

The decision to end the association results from their decisions to retire and was “reinforced by the changing climate in the auto industry that has included a sizeable drop in the number of dealerships through mergers and acquisitions,” Eddy said.

In 1950, the United States was home to more than 50,000 auto dealerships, a number that has dropped to 17,000 today, according to Eddy. Most dealerships sold only one or two nameplates. Since then, the national automakers have discontinued some lines (Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Plymouth, Mercury, for example) and compelled dealerships to merge and consolidate.

That has been reflected in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties where, Eddy observed, the ADAEO had 54 dealerships when he joined in 1989. “Now we have 36 plus 35 associate members,” he said.

Associate members are industry-related businesses such as vendors, suppliers, auto lenders and the media.

Technology has also played a role in reducing the need for the association. The hours of paperwork needed to record and detail the members’ sales “now can be done in a fraction of that time,” Eddy noted.

Besides promoting the interests of its membership, the ADAEO has raised more than $659,000 since 1999, the first 10 years in support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, since then the Rich Center for Autism at Youngstown State University.

Chos suggested that the ADAEO’s support of Make-A-Wish and the Rich Center “may be the highlight of the association’s history.”

Added Eddy in a statement, “I’m proud that our association has represented dealers so well for so many years and has also had the privilege and satisfaction of giving back to our community.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.