Dealer's Voice: Ontario Car Dealers join up to Speak with One Voice

First off, it was Media Day at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto, where automobile dealers, journalists, stakeholders and invited guests had an opportunity to socialize and preview the latest models

  • Scenic cityscape of downtown Toronto Ontario Canada during a sunny day

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 was a day that automobile dealers throughout Ontario may remember for two important reasons.

First off, it was Media Day at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto, where automobile dealers, journalists, stakeholders and invited guests had an opportunity to socialize and preview the latest models, including the Canadian Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s Car of the Year (Hyundai Elantra) and the Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year (Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel).

Congratulations to both of these winners and to all other winners in their categories. There is much excitement within automotive circles when these awards are announced.

Secondly, it was a day when two great automotive associations formally agreed to merge. For the first time ever, new car dealers in Ontario will be represented by a single dealer association.

Members of the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) and the Ontario Automobile Dealer Association (OADA) voted to merge and form the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association. Trillium will become the largest provincial automobile dealer association in Canada, representing one third of the new car dealers in the country (1,191).

This is an historic achievement for our two associations, which will result in many benefits for dealers, consumers and stakeholders, including stronger advocacy with provincial and municipal governments, more unified representation among car manufacturers and suppliers, and greater operating efficiencies.

The TADA and OADA have a proud history of promoting important initiatives, including best practices among dealers, educational opportunities, consumer protection, workplace health and safety programs, and supporting charitable causes.

One of the big challenges facing our industry over the next decade will be an expected employment shortfall, as baby boomers continue to retire. To address this, our industry needs to step up its recruitment efforts to replace skilled automotive technicians, managers, salespeople, service advisors, administrative personnel and marketing experts.

Our new association will continue to make education a top priority, working closely with the Canadian Automotive Institute at Georgian College in Barrie and Centennial College in Toronto, and providing scholarships for the auto industry.

With the formation of Trillium, consumers and car buyers will continue to be well served when doing business with a registered dealer.

The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) will continue to administer the Ontario Motor Vehicle Dealers Act to ensure transparency in dealership operations and to ensure consumer protection when buying or servicing automobiles.

The TADA worked with the provincial government to form OMVIC, in 1997, a self-managing body that oversees the licensing of salespeople and managers; dealership training programs; advertising business practices; consumer complaints and protection; and ethics and standard business practices.

The TADA and OADA currently provide essential resources for consumers on their websites, to enhance the car ownership experience. These include car buying tips, employment opportunities at new car dealerships, consumer programs, pre-owned vehicle listings and safety information.

All of this content, and more, will be available to the public on the new Trillium website, which will be unveiled within a few months.

The merger of the TADA and OADA took a few years to complete, and it involved the efforts of many dedicated people from both associations. I’d like to personally thank OADA President, Doug Sullivan, the Boards of Directors of the TADA and OADA and all others who were directly involved for their hard work and commitment.

I’m proud to have been at the helm of the TADA during this truly momentous occasion. Working together as one, the new Trillium Automobile Dealers Association represents a powerful voice, championing the interests of 1,191 dealers across Ontario (and the 47,000 people that they employ) and consumers.

This merger marks a progressive step forward for the retail car industry and for consumers in Ontario.

This column represents the view of TADA. Email or visit Sandy Liguori, president of the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association, is a new car dealer in the GTA.

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