Outgoing ATD chairman emphasizes protection of dealership value

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Amidst a backdrop of declining medium- and heavy-duty truck sales, American Truck Dealers Chairman George Grask called on dealers to take steps to protect the viability of dealerships during challenging times.

“Whether it’s the service we provide, the parts we sell, the hours we keep – we need to continue to evolve to meet the needs of our customers, to offer the very best customer service and support,” said Grask, speaking at the 2008 ATD Convention and Expo in Dallas.

In addition to exceptional customer service, Grask emphasized the need for dealers to keep pace with new technology, including proprietary engines, hybrid technology and telematics. He also called on dealers to educate themselves on the management and leadership qualities required to run increasingly complex businesses.

Among the many challenges facing the retail truck industry, Grask addressed pending fuel economy regulations. Because of a coalition led by NADA Legislative Affairs, truck makers and dealers were able to avoid fuel-economy mandates in last year’s energy bill, said Grask. The proposal would have mandated the first CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) regulations for medium- and heavy-duty truck dealers.

Instead, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will contract with the National Academy of Sciences for an 18-month study that will examine medium- and heavy-duty trucks for the purpose of proposing fuel-economy standards. ATD and NADA will have the opportunity to provide comments in the study, said Grask.

Grask, owner of Cedar Rapids Truck Center of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, finished his two-year term as ATD chairman at the convention last week. Gary Gibson, former ATD vice chairman and president of Tri-State Sterling Trucks of Cincinnati, took the chairmanship on Monday, April 28.