The Pohanka family has a long history with NADA. As a matter of fact, both the Pohanka privately-run company’s and NADA began around a similar time.
Frank S. Pohanka opened his first dealership in Washington, D.C., in 1919 – only two years after NADA was established. “I have a long family association with NADA and I know pretty much everything there is to know about the association,” says Geoffrey Pohanka. Frank’s grandson and the 2023 NADA chairman. “When my dad took over the business in 1959, the NADA headquarters was three blocks away from the dealership.”
Pohanka’s dad, John, proceeded to turn into the NADA chief for Maryland and, in 1976, NADA director. “Giving back to NADA is in our family history going way back to the 1950s,” says Pohanka.
Building a Business
Pohanka was 13 when he started working in his family’s showrooms during summers during the 1970s. He went to Colgate College and wanted to go to business college, yet his dad suggested he work two years full-time in the showroom first (Oldsmobile-Honda-Fiat). “We sold a ton of vehicles yet had an exceptionally unfortunate help division, which almost drove me from the business,” Pohanks says. “At the point when I told my dad I needed to accomplish something different, he inquired as to whether I would go to a monthlong preparation program General Motors Institute in Flint, Michigan. There, I composed a complete report about how my dad expected to treat ‘fix his business,’ and afterward I would continue on. My dad loved my report such a lot of he proposed to place me responsible for the decent tasks to execute the changes, which I acknowledged and did. So here we are today.”
Today, the Pohanka Auto Group has 20 areas in Maryland, Virginia and Texas, and positioned 34th on Automotive News’ 2021 rundown of the country’s main 150 showroom groups. What’s more, the fourth and fifth ages of the family are currently working at the showroom bunch, including two of Pohanka’s kids — little girl Laura and child Kevin.
Working With NADA
Pohanka initially served on the NADA board from 2001 to 2009 but left to relocate three of his legacy dealerships. He returned to the board in 2015 and has served as chairman of the Industry Relations Committee. Pohanka was elected vice chairman of NADA in 2022 and represents Washington, D.C.-area dealers on the NADA Board of Directors.
Pohanka says. “It is important that dealers give back to our industry,”. “My skill sets are the right ones for the times and the many challenges that our industry faces. I bring a lot of retail experience but also experience working with manufacturers and politicians.”
Among the difficulties Pohanka will handle as 2023 administrator are battling guidelines that hurt the business, supporting auto retail’s change to electric vehicles and strengthening the relationship between manufacturers and auto dealers, including the use and sharing of customer data—addressed by NADA’s new Guiding Principles.
Pohanka says “One of the biggest challenges we face is around messaging,”. “Basically, car dealers and manufacturers want the same thing—sell a lot of cars and take care of customers—but we don’t go about it the same way and we don’t understand each other completely.”
As for electric vehicles, Pohanka is all-in and is currently driving his third EV—a Volkswagen ID-4. “When dealers started asking questions about electrification, people thought we were opposing it,” he says. “We’re not opposed. We’re concerned about affordability and the charging infrastructure.”
As someone with deep roots in the Washington, D.C., area, Pohanka says he is uniquely qualified to lead NADA and the auto dealer body. “I’ve been involved in industry and government relations for a long time and I understand how things work.
“We’ve had challenges from government and others, but we have a lot of strengths, including our community involvement,” Pohanka adds. “We’re consumer focused, adjust to changing situations, and there’s resiliency in the franchise system. People outside the franchise system don’t recognize the strength we have in terms of what we do so well.”
Number of years Pohanka has worked in the auto retail business.
Year Pohanka’s grandfather Frank S. Pohanka opened the family’s first dealership in Washington, D.C.
Year Pohanka served as chairman of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association
Number of employees at Pohanka Automotive Group