Over 50 of the nation's top auto lending credit unions gathered in Las Vegas last week at the 2004 National Automobile Dealers Association Convention & Exposition. This marked the first year America's Credit Unions participated in the event to demonstrate their strength in the vehicle financing market and to build and improve relationships with the nation's auto dealers.
The event, coordinated by Credit Union Direct Lending and supported by Callahan & Associates, kicked off with a 500-person party, which included breath-taking helicopter rides of the Strip, for all those interested. The evening, complete with excellent food and music, gave credit unions and dealers the chance to interact and discuss business in a more relaxed atmosphere.
The convention itself featured over 500 vendor booths and over 30,000 attendees.
''For the first time we put a united foot forward and let the dealers know that credit unions are a viable player in the auto lending market,'' said Larry Biernacki, Senior Vice President of Lending at San Antonio FCU. ''By working the aisles and chatting with dealers, we were able to really improve our perception in the marketplace.''
Ray Springsteen, Vice President of Marketing at Service CU (NH) thought the NADA convention was a very valuable event because ''we were able to spend a lot more quality time with our top dealers than we ever could in New Hampshire.'' In addition, the quality of the convention and workshops ''gave us more knowledge on the auto industry, which will help us improve the services we offer our members.''
Paul Taylor, Chief Economist for the NADA projects 2004 new car and light truck sales to reach 16.8 million units, up slightly from 16.6 million in 2003. Continuing incentives and the release of several new, exciting models could help sales reach 17 million.