Kentucky dealer takes reigns as AIADA chairman – Auto Remarketing


Just like the National Automobile Dealers Association, the American International Automobile Dealers Association hosted its annual meeting virtually, in the process handing off the chairman’s gavel and revealing its board of directors.

Set to serve as its 2021 chairman, AIADA bestowed the role to Steve Gates of Richmond, Ky., who is the owner of Gates Auto Family, which operates dealerships in Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana.  

The association also made the posthumous presentation of the David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award to legendary Indiana dealer and AIADA board member Bob Rohrman. 

Gates accepted the chairmanship and the award was presented as part of AIADA’s 51st Virtual Annual Meeting that stretched over three days this week. 

“Becoming chairman of AIADA is by far the biggest honor I’ve ever received,” said Gates, who represents the third generation of dealers in the Gates Auto Family.

“I can promise you that day in and day out I will do everything I can for this industry and AIADA,” Gates continued in a news release. “I’m excited and ready to go.” 

The Gates Auto Family operates Audi, Ford/Lincoln, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Nissan, and Toyota dealerships with more than 500 employees.

Gates also is an active member of the auto retail industry as he has served on AIADA’s board of directors since 2014. In 2018, Gates testified on behalf of its members about the potential impact of proposed 232 tariffs on vehicles during a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

Gates’ industry leadership also includes representing dealers on Toyota’s National Dealer Council for six terms, Toyota’s National Product Advisory Council and the state of Kentucky’s Motor Vehicle Commission.

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Furthermore, Gates is also a former Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association board member.

AIADA acknowledged that Gates is taking over as chairman following an unprecedented year for America’s international dealer community as it continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as new leadership in Washington, D.C.

The association said he plans to use his time as chairman to get dealers more involved in AIADA through its Dealer Visit Program, which could be especially important as a new Congress and administration set the agenda in Washington. 

“My plan is to attend every meeting I can, including regional and mid-level meetings to get more people involved in AIADA. We have so many dynamic young dealers on our board of directors, and I want to see that represented in AIADA’s overall member involvement,” Gates said. 

Gates is joined in leadership on the AIADA board of directors by:

— Immediate past chairman Jason Courter of Bellevue, Wash

— Chairman-elect John Connelly of Columbus, Ohio

— Vice chairman Mike Darrow of Menomonee Falls, Wisc.

— Secretary/treasurer Mike DeSilva of Emerson, N.J. 

Auto Remarketing’s Q&A with Gates from our January magazine can be found here

In lieu of AIADA’s 51st Annual Meeting and Luncheon, the association held a virtual annual meeting, featuring keynote remarks by Bob Carter, Toyota Motor North America’s executive vice president of sales.

More award details

The David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award is presented by AIADA’s board of directors annually to an industry leader who possesses a similar community spirit and devotion to the international nameplate auto industry as its namesake.

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The latest recipient is the late Bob Rohrman.

“Those of us who knew Bob Rohrman and his legendary generosity saw that he embodied the spirit of the David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award more than almost anyone else in our industry,” AIADA president and chief executive officer Cody Lusk said in another news release.

“There are many things we remember Bob for, but at the very top was his giving spirit and commitment to leaving the world a better place than he found it,” Lusk continued. 

Perhaps the most famous car dealer in the Midwest thanks to his iconic television commercials, AIADA recollected that Rohrman got his start in the car business in Lafayette, Ind. The group later grew to more than 30 franchises with locations in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

AIADA said Rohrman passed away in September.

During his life, Rohrman was the recipient of numerous awards, including Indiana’s 2019 Sagamore of the Wabash, and he served in multiple auto industry leadership roles, including on AIADA’s board of directors. 

However, AIADA pointed out that Rohrman’s generosity was even bigger than his television personality. Highlights include:

— $15 million donation to Purdue University for Rohrman Field at Ross-Ade Stadium

— $3.5 million for the Rohrman Performing Arts Center at Jefferson High School,

— Multiple other donations to organizations including Susan G. Komen, Meals on Wheels and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. 

Since 1975, AIADA has presented an annual lifetime achievement award to an individual who is set apart by a deep commitment and contributions to the international auto industry and community involvement.

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During AIADA’s 2007 annual meeting and luncheon in Las Vegas, Lusk honored the late AIADA chairman and long-time AIADA supporter, Dave Mungenast, Sr., by renaming the association’s lifetime achievement award in his honor.


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