A look back at the 2016 Denver Auto Show

Dear CADA Member Dealer:

March is over and we’re well into April. There’s always a pause to relax and refresh. But I’m here to tell you that while our “Big Three” events of the Denver Auto Show, Charity Preview Party and Innovative Dealer Summit (IDS) are over there’s still much to look forward to this year at the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.

First a recap: the Denver Auto Show was another big success. Although we’re still looking at all the numbers, we can tell you that it was the fifth largest show in its 115th history, in terms of attendance. Six of the largest we’ve put on have been six of the most recent nine, since 2008 – that’s a very positive trend line and it reflects the traffic we’ve seen in our showrooms this year, too. There were more than 500 cars on display in a half-million – that’s 500,000! – square feet of space, an amount we’ve only covered in two previous years (2011, 2012).

The Charity Preview Party, “Motown Meets Mile High,” was also a big success, drawing the highest overall gross revenue and the highest sponsorship dollars. It also had the highest registered attendance. All of this means that we are pretty confident, that we will be able to make the largest donations we’ve ever made to our recipient charities – National Jewish Health, the Denver Post Community Foundation and the CADA-sponsored Clear the Air Foundation and to scholarship support for young people wanting to go into our industry. Many thanks to our presenting sponsor, UMB Bank, and all the other organizations that stepped up to make this possible. Also thanks to our committee, led by Donnie Chrismer.

On a side note, we really got a kick out of one comment from Kevin Hanigan, executive director of the Idaho Automobile Dealers Association, who came for the auto show, Charity Preview Party and the IDS, who said he’s “already planning on coming back next year, bringing Kathy our assistant, and most likely my 17-year-old son who is very jealous of me being at the auto show (& meeting John Elway). As you know, John and Paige Elway were honorary chairs of the party.”

Kevin’s comment is a great segue into noting the success of the Innovative Dealer Summit, our eighth annual get-together to learn about the latest trends in digital marketing, customer relations, and many other aspects of our rapidly changing industry. Kevin’s counterparts from the Nevada Franchised Auto Dealers Association and the Montana Auto Dealers Association also attended and offered rave reviews.

We’re going over the comments we received and the surveys returned by many of the attendees, as we do every year, to refine what we offer and make it the most valuable two days it can be for dealers and their top managers. It’s already clear that our keynote speaker, Mark Scharenbroich, was a huge hit with his “Nice Bike – Making Meaningful Connections” presentation. Some of the comments included, “Awesome,” “One of the best keynotes I’ve ever heard,” and, “LOVED Mark!”

Among some of the other positive comments we got from attendees:

  • “Diversity of speakers”
  • “The wealth of information”
  • “I learned a lot from the breakout sessions. Great speakers!”
  • “Keep it going and interesting because you cannot get this exposure without paying a high cost.”
  • “Every year it gets better.”
  • “I can always judge the quality of a conference based on the amount of notes I take and I haven’t taken that many notes in several years!”

Several of the speakers and vendors gave us positive feedback, too. Jake Pleban from Hireology said, “You put on one heck of a conference!” And from Rick McLey, CEO of Drive360, “I have to say that IDS was absolutely with no doubt the best return for the dollar as a vendor show I have ever attended. You are making this better every year and you can count me in as a major sponsor every year going forward.”

We also got some good advice from the survey including one comment that was repeated several times: “Get more dealers to attend! If you missed this year’s IDS, you missed a great opportunity to learn from our speakers and also from one another. Think about putting IDS on your calendar for next year. It really isan event from which every one of our members could benefit.”

Looking to the future: There’s a busy calendar of events for CADA members. Coming up the evening of May 12, our friends from UMB Bank will present a Dealer Outlook Briefing featuring UMB’s chief economist as well as the top economist from NADA. That will be at CADA headquarters in Denver. The CADA Member Golf Event is scheduled for August 29 at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. For the fourth year, CADA’s Project DC will take the Board meeting on the road to our nation’s capital in conjunction with the NADA Washington Conference. Regional meetings will take place in late September and throughout October. And you’ll want to make sure to attend “The 102” Annual Meeting on November 18 at a location yet to be chosen.

Thanks again to our excellent staff for the hard work that resulted in such successful events in March. I’m looking forward to seeing you at the events we have scheduled in the months ahead.

Kind regards,

Fletcher Flower, Chairman
Colorado Automobile Dealers Association