John White hands over reins at CADA to Tim Reuss
September 3rd, 2019
After leading CADA through one of the most interesting periods of transition in the Canadian automotive industry, John White is officially handing over the reins to Tim Reuss, the association’s new President and CEO.
His first priorities will be learning the ropes and getting to know all the players. This will include meeting with the provincial associations, OEM manufacturers, and also tackling ongoing projects — such as ensuring there is continued contact with the authorities where the HST on insurance file is concerned: keeping CRA leadership informed in cases where the association believes dealers may be improperly assessed.
“John has done a great job in putting together a transition and orientation program for me, and especially the whole team at CADA over the last few weeks, so I can hit the ground running,” said Reuss, in an interview with CADA Newsline.
Reuss will also take up the future of auto retailing report that was released this year to dealer members: Driving the Road Ahead: A View Into the Future of Canadian Automobile Retailing.
The report includes ideas, suggestions, and recommendations about key trends impacting the auto industry and what dealers should be aware of. CADA will continue this work to ensure it remains at the forefront of dealer's minds, with Reuss looking at what dealers can do to mitigate some of the effects of these changes, and seize the opportunities presented in the report.
“What is changing and where do the opportunities lie? I think there's sometimes too much focus on risks, but there are also a lot of opportunities,” said Reuss. “When new revenue streams are being established, that also means that there are opportunities to be had, so it's not only about risk and protection — it’s also about making sure that the opportunities can be captured.”
He said connected vehicle technology is starting to take off as certain manufacturers launch products in the marketplace — products that have the potential to change and alter revenue streams, and even create new ones. Reuss wants to ensure dealers are able to take advantage of those revenue streams going forward.
“Based on the trends that are affecting the dealers, I think there is one in particular that is more urgent, and it regards data and connected vehicles,” said Reuss.
Connected vehicle data is already having an influence in the marketplace. At the moment, there are several data-sharing agreements that certain OEMs want with certain dealers. “We’re helping out on that — helping the Dealer Councils and the dealers figure those out, and making sure that their rights are protected in those agreements.”
Reuss brings with him significant OEM experience to his new role at CADA, having been a former President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Canada. He has also worked as a consultant, on his own and with McKinsey & Company, focusing mainly on the major trends in the auto industry.
His new leadership position at CADA comes at a time of significant change in the automotive industry, and follows a high level of uncertainty that loomed heavily over the Canadian auto sector and economy for more than a year. White said dealing with the unpredictability in the United States, and dealing with the federal government to ensure they clearly understood what would happen if the U.S. imposed retaliatory auto tariffs in 2018 was among the more intense periods of his mandate.
“There were many major files that we worked on with our friends across the border that kept us on our toes through the whole tariffs and NAFTA negotiations. This was not something we anticipated when I arrived at CADA,” said White. “But I think, overall, the team in Ottawa and Toronto did a really good job, and the dealers have been supportive.”
Last year, the federal government secured a side letter that protects the Canadian automotive industry from U.S. tariffs, something that White sees as a highlight of the association’s accomplishments. “It was difficult, it was tumultuous, it was challenging, but it was a satisfying outcome.”
White has officially returned to his new residence in Montreal, Que., and plans to remain involved in the auto business in some way. Before heading out, he offered a few parting words to dealer members, and to the new President and CEO.
“I would like to thank the dealers for their unbelievable support. Working with them, on their behalf, was a great experience and one I very much enjoyed,” said White. “Car dealers are underestimated as a group, and clearly, all of these ladies and gentlemen are really dedicated to their craft and to their local economies. So I want to thank them for their support, which has been fantastic.”
White also said he believes the association will be in good hands with Reuss, and is confident that he will continue to bring CADA up to the next level. “We set out to elevate CADA to the next level and I think we have. I also think Tim Reuss will do the same thing and bring the association up another notch.”