Channel | Highlights

PALS 2015 Shoots, Scores

LAS VEGAS — Organizers of the annual P&A Leadership Summit said the 2015 event, which was held Sept. 9–10 at Paris Las Vegas, exceeded all expectations.

“From the speakers and content to the crowd and energy level, this was our finest hour,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of F&I and Showroom and P&A magazines. “PALS 2015 was an event to remember for all involved.”

The conference began with a welcome luncheon that began at midday on Wednesday, Sept. 9, and included an opening keynote address from Aaron Lunt, an attorney with The Warranty Group. Lunt’s presentation covered the origins and practices of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and its effect — via regulatory actions against finance sources — on the F&I industry. It was followed by two panel sessions: “Govern or Be Governed” and “Leveraging Technology for Improved Data Analytics.”

“Govern or Be Governed” was moderated by Meenan PA’s Tim Meenan and staffed by senior executives from five leading product providers. Steve Amos of GSFSGroup, EasyCare’s David DeCredico, Allstate Dealer Services’ Doug Frey, Mark Macek of US Warranty Corp. and National Automotive Experts’ Kelly Price debated the wisdom of setting price and markup caps at the F&I product provider level to help minimize interest in their segment by the CFPB.

“Leveraging Technology” featured a conversation among the moderator, Kristen Gruber of Dealers Assurance Company, and panelists Kumar Kathinokkula of F&I Administration Solutions, GPW and Associates’ Joseph Kirsits and Russell Ridley of GSFSGroup. The group discussed data analysis and reporting technologies that are being used today to better analyze loss data, trend identification, underwriting and more.

Organizers saw “no need” to ease into the agenda, Gesualdo said, adding, “Our attendees came prepared to get down to brass tacks.”

After a brief networking break, attorney and consultant Kirk Borchardt took the stage to present “Solving the Industry’s Conundrums, One Question at a Time.” Borchardt covered a range of pressing issues before taking questions from the audience. He was followed by Bill Fox, an Upstate New York dealer and 2015 Chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). Fox presented a spirited defense of the franchised dealer model as well as pointed commentary on recent developments ranging from increased regulatory oversight to the acquisition of the Van Tuyl Auto Group by billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

The day concluded with an evening reception, where PALS attendees mingled with attendees in the exhibit hall of the collocated Industry Summit. Thursday began with “Solving the CFPB Problem,” a presentation by Andrew Koblenz, a longtime NADA executive who currently serves as an executive vice president and general counsel. Koblenz concluded his presentation with a lengthy question-and-answer period in which he fielded a number of interesting queries from attendees.

“Direct access to the industry’s thought leaders has been a staple of our event,” Gesualdo said. “We are proud of the fact that speakers of this caliber have been so willing to bless us with their presence and brainpower.”

Koblenz was followed by three presentations. “The Power of Digital F&I” was presented by Brian Reed of F&I Express and MakeMyDeal’s Mike Burgiss. The pair discussed the paucity of information about F&I products online and the prospects of moving much of the F&I process online.

The luncheon address, “The Evolution of National Auto Care,” was presented by Trivest Partners’ Jorge Gross, one of the driving forces behind the acquisitions and subsequent merger of NAC and Family First Dealer Services.

The final featured presentation was delivered by Mark Anderson of LWACOR. “Implications to Producer and Dealership Retained Risk Programs From Recent Tax Court Decisions and IRS Rulings and Regulations” included a review and analysis of a number of court decisions and new guidelines affecting reinsurance programs.

After a networking break, the PALS crowd reconvened for the final educational session, “Measuring Your Call/Claim Center Metrics, Attributes and Efficiencies.” American Guardian Warranty Services’ Don Larsen led a panel staffed by Tony Keesee of StoneEagle, George Krnich of American Auto Guardian Inc., NAC’s Paul Leary and Trish Myers of EFG Companies.

The event concluded with a Hosted Happy Hour and the presentation of F&I and Showroom’s 2015 Pacesetter and Dealer of the Year awards and Auto Dealer Today’s 2015 Dealers’ Choice Awards.

“Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, the hard work of our speakers and the energy and enthusiasm of our attendees, this year’s P&A Leadership Summit was our best yet,” Gesualdo said. “We are extremely grateful to all parties, and we look forward to building on this momentum in 2016.”

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2017 Advisory Board

David Trinder 
CEO, F&I Administration Solutions and Advisory Board Chair

Brent Allen
President, StoneEagle Insurance Systems

Jimmy Atkinson 
President/CEO, AUL Corp 

Robert Berger Jr.
Executive Vice President & Director of Operations, Wise F&I

Bob Corbin
President and CEO, IAS

Ron Greer
Vice President of Provider Services, Open Dealer Exchange, LLC

Kristen Gruber
President, Dealers Assurance Company

Lori Hallissey
Chief Operating Officer, Portfolio Reinsurance Services

Arden Hetland
President, American Financial and Automotive Services

Daniel Lievrouw
VP of Operations & I.T., American Guardian Warranty Services, Inc.

Adam Pope
President, Warranty Solutions

Kelly Price
CEO, NAE NWAN

Mitch Rand
President, C&K Auto Parts, WIS Inspections

Tony Wanderon
CEO, National Auto Care