3rd October, 2016 · CEO Message

CEO Message No. 13

3 minutes to read

The Long Run…

The Barbarian King Odoacer conducted the final sacking of Rome in 476 CE and drove the last Emperor, Romulus Augustus, into exile. But long before that event the Roman Empire had been divided into Western and Eastern jurisdictions with a second Emperor ruling from Constantinople.

The Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire survived for almost 1000 years after Rome fell until the Ottoman Emperor Mehmed finally conquered it in 1453 CE.

The main reason Constantinople survived so long? The Theodosian Walls (pictured).

So we ask the question: If these walls were able to preserve Constantinople for 1000 years, what changed in 1453?

Answer: New technology allied with a new business model.

Shifting trade patterns made the Ottomans wealthy enough to finance a war and provided them with the means of acquiring modern cannon technology that simply blew the walls apart faster than the Byzantines could repair them.

The bow and arrow age was over.

The Theodosian Walls
The Theodosian Walls
The lesson is that, in the long run, walls – physical, intellectual or emotional – are never the ultimate answer against technology and shifting business realities (note to Donald Trump!).

For that reason, when I spoke at our recent AADA Convention I emphasised the need for strong, unifying and persistent advocacy based on continuous engagement with government at all levels.

As an industry and as dealers we can’t wall ourselves off. Change is coming – often faster than we think – and we must embrace it and work on the best outcomes we can devise.

For these reasons I’ve been consistently expressing AADA’s disappointment whenever regulatory action is mooted or taken without adequate consultation. We’ve seen some recent examples of this behaviour and it is disconcerting to say the least. Together with our allied organisations such as FCAI and the MTAs we have an ‘anywhere, anytime at your convenience‘ policy when it comes to meeting and engaging with legislators and regulators – no walls for us.

Our work docket continues to be crowded with many issues likely to impact dealer revenue streams and costs and the AADA staff remains energetically engaged on these matters.

Recently a team lead by Deputy Chairman Anthony Altomonte and including our Policy Director Michael Deed and our Finance and Insurance Expert Committee member Andrew Bunce (AP Eagers) met with the Holden National Dealer Council and executives from GM Holden to provide updates on the Vital Five and other matters of concern to us.

Feedback says that the dealers and Holden found this briefing most worthwhile.

I want to publically acknowledge and thank David Nicholson and Scott Wakeling for affording us this outstanding opportunity via the AMDC and thanks also to Anthony Altomonte for stepping into the leadership role during my absence.

Working through Doug Dickson and the AMDC provides us with a most effective and efficient means of keeping key leaders in the various brand councils fully informed of our activities, successes and on-going challenges. We plan to present to as many of these forums as possible during the balance of this year.

Next week I plan to bring you a further update from a major industry event I will be attending in UK as well as some insights into how the UK National Franchised Dealers Association handles its many similar challenges to our own.

In the meantime, as ever, I wish you…

As ever, I wish you…

Good luck and good selling!


David Blackhall