Sunday, June 10, 2018

Opening Day

I have lifelong friend who is a talented writer. He wrote this essay and shared it with me. He has permitted me to post it here. I've added a few photos. 

He's capture the spirit of this annual event perfectly. I am fortunate to have a friend with whom I've been able to share it. Enjoy "Opening Day" by Craig Kirsch.



Opening Day

In this small central South Dakota town, it’s the biggest day of the year.  Bigger than the high school’s homecoming, bigger than the Fourth of July, and even eclipsing Christmas in terms of visitors and traffic.  It’s the opening day of pheasant season, in the heart of the best county of what is regarded as the number one state for ringneck hunting.  The city of Winner, located in Tripp County, a normally quiet community of 3000 residents, can boast of a proud tradition of excellence on the high school football field, as well as being the childhood home of Notre Dame legend Frank Leahy, but it's the area’s consistent abundance of the colorful game birds that it is most famous for.

The second or third Saturday of each October will find the small burg transformed into a thriving metropolis for hunters.  The normally tranquil town thoroughfare is packed bumper to bumper with four-wheel-drive pickups toting dog kennels, and drivers and passengers clad in blaze orange caps and vests.  Every motel room in town is occupied, and seats in restaurants are tough to find for that morning’s breakfast.  Come noon, however, the streets are silent and eateries unoccupied, for everyone is in the field awaiting the noon whistle, signaling the start of the hunting season.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Shot at the Alamo

I've written about my Final Four adventures before. This year brought another interview. This time by Blair Kerkoff, long time Kansas City Star sportswriter, U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Famer and author of several books.

He and Kansas City Star photojournalist, Allison Long, came to our hotel, The Crockett Hotel,, which is across the street from the Alamo, to interview our group on the Saturday of Final Four weekend.

Despite the rather awkward setting, sitting on the beds in our hotel room, we had a lot of laughs as well recalled some of our memories from the last four decades. The six of us had over 160 Final Fours attended all together.

I was reminded how lucky I am to have a wife and family that are tolerant and understanding of my love for college basketball, to have employees and businesses that allow me to be away each year. and health, despite a scare, that has allowed me to attend.

I am also lucky to have some great friends, who are as fortunate as I am, to be able to share this weekend with each year.

So here is this year's version of the gang that keeps showing up:

Thirty-seven consecutive Final Fours and counting, hoops are this group's bond

Christopher Korth of Kansas City and Doug Knust of Chamberlain, S.D., are attending their 37th consecutive Final Four. They and friends who have been going to the NCAA Tournament semifinals and finals for 15-30 years plan their trips long in advance.

Monday, March 12, 2018

March 2018 SDADA Column

South Dakota Automobile Dealers:

This is my final column as the South Dakota NADA Director so I want to start off by thanking you, my fellow dealers, for the opportunity to serve in that capacity for the past nearly 11 years. I appreciate the input, feedback and support you have given me as we worked together on the challenges facing the automotive industry both nationally and in our state.

I reflected upon the (over one hundred!) columns I have written during my tenure. What a long, strange trip it's been!

Among the challenges we faced together were: The Great Recession of 2008, CAFE Standards, Red Flags Rule, bridge loans for automakers, automaker bankruptcies, "Cash for Clunkers", facilities image programs, the Dodd-Frank bill and creation of the CFPB (and our exclusion from their oversight), navigating the barrage of Obama Administration regulations (Risk Based pricing, Privacy notices, etc.), the threat to repeal LIFO, stair step programs, electric cars, autonomous vehicles, disparate impact allegations, recalls and, most recently, tax reform.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

No Worries

In 1994, we won a Chevrolet sales contest that rewarded us with a trip to Disney World in Orlando. The trip was in January 1995. Judy and I planned to take our two kids, Rachel (8) and Alex (5), on the trip which Chevrolet promoted as a family trip. This was all B.S. (before Sarah, our youngest child, who hadn't been born yet).

Chevrolet hosted us at Disney World's Swan and Dolphin Resort which is located in the heart of the Disney resort. It is  located in between Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios

It was a journey to drive two hours to the airport in Sioux Falls, catch an hour long flight from Sioux Falls to MSP, then fly 3-4 hours to Orlando. We then retrieved luggage, found ground transportation and made our way to the resort. We were all tired by the time we arrived but there was a party taking place when we got there and the kids were excited to explore things.

Chevrolet's "Welcome Party" took place on the beach near the causeway between the Swan and the Dolphin. There were many food stands with different types of cuisines. There were games and activities for all ages on the beach. We were all walking through the party wide-eyed, taking it all in.

Suddenly, we realized that Alex was not with us. As we looked around, we didn't see him anywhere. Had it been a regular Disney crowd, we would have really been concerned. Since it was a private party, I wasn't quite as worried. As it was, we quickly started backtracking to try to find him.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Boss on the Rocks


I became a Bruce Springsteen fan in the summer of 1978 which was the summer after I graduated from high school. It was the summer that Springsteen released “Darkness on the Edge of Town”.

Growing up in rural South Dakota, I did not hear anything but a little pop and a lotta country music on the radio. I relied on Rolling Stone magazine to help me shape my music tastes. Dave Marsh’s review of "Darkness" in July 1978 was so glowing that I felt I’d be missing out if I didn’t own the album.

It was my first Springsteen album. “Born to Run” followed shortly thereafter (“Darkness” and “Born to Run” made my favorites list) and I owned “Greetings from Asbury Park” and “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle” by the time I packed my vinyl collection for college that fall.

By the time I arrived at Creighton University in the fall of 1978, I was a full fledged “Boss” fan. When I joined a fraternity second semester, it just so happened a couple of my new "brothers" were from Jersey and were Bruce disciples. They inspired me to go on a two week tour following Springsteen and the Creighton Bluejays a year later. I'll save that for another post!

Friday afternoons in the dorm consisted of backgammon or Spades games with the E Street Band as the soundtrack. I played the grooves thin on those first four Springsteen album.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Finding a Friend in Dakota

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.” – Gilda Radner (comedian)

I lived in the dorms my first three years as a student at Creighton University. During my junior year, five of my fraternity brothers and I decided we would move off campus to a large house on Cuming Street about eight blocks from campus.

This decision allowed me to buy the dog I always wanted. I pulled the trigger a bit earlier than I was supposed as I bought the dog while I was living in the Palms (now Kenefick Hall). Dakota, my six week-old English Springer Spaniel lived in the dorm with me for about two weeks before the spring semester ended.

That presented a few special challenges and a few messes on the floor. But with the help and understanding of my two roommates, we made it to the end of the semester.
Dakota laying on my waterbed in our "corner room".

We moved into the house, a three-story, six-bedroom palace, in late May. I claimed the corner bedroom on the second floor that looked out over the roof of the over the back third of the house. I had seven windows that opened up to this roof. The roof was just below the bottom of the windows.

Dakota could jump out the window onto the roof and relieve herself and then come back into my room. That particular skill became a priority as soon as we moved in.

After a few successful ventures onto the roof and some heaping praise, Dakota figured it out. Needless to say, taking a leak worked fine - no residual. The other trips, did present a bit more of an issue.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January 2018 SDADA Column

Last year I watched (and helped a little) as NADA planned NADA100, a celebration of 100 years of service to dealers. The celebration in New Orleans was spectacular and everyone I talked to who attended had a great time. It was a gala worthy of the occasion.

It was great to walk down memory lane  and recap the rich history of both our trade association and our industry while also celebrating its future. The automobile industry has been an integral part of our nation's history.

Perhaps even more remarkable is that the South Dakota Automobile Dealers Association is celebrating 100 years of service to South Dakota dealers this year. Committees and staff are planning a celebration of this milestone to be held in Sioux Falls, June 13-15.

Details of this grand event will be coming soon but I urge you to mark those dates on your calendar. This will be a celebration of the history of the automobile industry in our state and if you are reading this, you are an important part of that history.

Encourage other dealers, current and past, to join us for this great celebration of the automobile industry in our state. I know one thing about car dealers, we DO know how to celebrate.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Bishops, Cardinals and Trick Plays

I started working with kids in the summer of 1976 when I was the Assistant Summer Rec Director for the City of Chamberlain. Eventually I was the director and went on to coach baseball, basketball and football. I have worked with kids in some way ever since - some forty plus years.

When my wife and I moved from Omaha to Des Moines in 1984, I volunteered to coach a baseball team. The boys were 12-14 years old and we had a good summer. I enjoyed working with them and I believe the boys had fun. We were respectable - I think we were about .500.

Toward the end of the season, one of the fathers asked me if I'd be interested in coaching the St. Theresa's Cardinals. We belonged to St. Theresa's Parish and several of the boys on the baseball team would be on the football team so I agreed to coach them.

So later that summer, I went to an organizational meeting at one of the other Catholic churches in Des Moines. I could tell from the minute I entered the room that this was not going to be like my baseball experience earlier that summer. The room smelled like testosterone and I think I saw guys keep getting up and peeing in the corner!! This room was full of guys determined to relive their football glory days!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

November 2017 SDADA Column


Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
 -Wizard of Oz


Yes the "witch" is dead. Consumer Finance Protect Bureau Director Richard Cordray announced his resignation from the post by the end of November. It seems like my entire term as your NADA Director has been dotted with conflicts with Cordray and his overreaching agency.

Cordray has been on a crusade to eliminate our ability to discount interest rates for our customers ever since he took command of the most unaccountable agency in Washington. His legacy at the CFPB will be that of ruling by extortion and coercion.

I sat in a meeting in June of 2016 where he arrogantly told dealers and auto lenders that he was going to reduce our "dealer markup" (finance reserve) to a flat fee. He had no fear of retribution from anyone because he was accountable to no one!

Because of a specific exclusion for regulation of automobile dealers in the Dodd-Frank law that created the CFPB, Cordray has sought to get at dealers by overstepping its authority on regulating auto lenders since day one.

If you can't tell, I am rejoicing in this news and wishing the entire agency could die a quick death. Short of that, the best thing that can happen is for President Trump and Congress to take this opportunity to overhaul the CFPB and create some accountability.

I'm am now considering how to celebrate the demise of the "wicked witch". Perhaps some (amber) spirits would be in order!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

September 2017 SDADA Column

As I write this, Senator Thune and the Senate Commerce Committee are preparing legislation to advance self-driving vehicles or Highly Automated Vehicles (HAVs). As dealers, our concern is that this legislation could preempt certain state laws including our South Dakota franchise law.

While Congress seeks uniform regulation of self-driving vehicles to avoid a state patchwork that would hamper deployment of these vehicles, Congress must also ensure that the states’ traditional role to regulate motor vehicle commerce within its borders is preserved as applied to self-driving vehicles.

On Sept. 6, the House approved H.R. 3388, the “SELF DRIVE Act” by voice vote.  Bipartisan language to clarify that Congress does not intend to preempt state vehicle licensing/franchise laws as applied to self-driving vehicles was included in the bill.

The Senate Commerce Committee must ensure that their legislation explicitly preserves state vehicle licensing and franchise laws as well. Hopefully, by the time you read this, we will have crossed this threshold without incident.

NADA will be watching to ensure state laws are protected!