Buick sponsors March luncheon at the Fort Lauderdale Auto Show
By: Bill Adam - Photos by
March SAMA meeting was held at the opulent Room 229 at the Fort
Lauderdale Convention Center, and was attended by approximately 40
members and guests. Sponsored by Buick, this site, above the floor of
the Fort Lauderdale Auto Show, was chosen as it gave everyone a chance
to both see and drive a number of their new models, as well as providing
a wonderful opportunity for a comprehensive tour of their new Regal.
President Paul Borden
welcomed all with the news that this day represented the third
anniversary for SAMA. Hard to believe that our organization has been in
existence this long, but as the saying goes…..”time just flies past when
you’re having fun”. Updates were given concerning future meeting
sponsors requests, and it appears that our late April luncheon meeting
will be sponsored by Nissan. More info will be emailed to all members as
the date gets closer.
Secretary Bill Adam
called for all members to be aware of the “feeding frenzy” mentality of
some lawyers, regarding the alleged acceleration problems associated
with the Toyota brand. The latest case in California, where, in a highly
publicized case, a gentleman driving a hybrid Prius, was unable to reign
in the power, yet had time to call 911 ! This type of sensationalizing
by the media can only have a negative effect on the industry as a whole,
and we must strive for honesty and accuracy in our various media outlets,
to dissuade people looking for a “free lunch”.
After a delicious
lunch, Alex Vitale introduced the first of three speakers from Buick,
Mr. Brad Flaaen, Buick-GMC Sales & Marketing Manager for the South East
region. In a very interesting talk along with slides, Mr. Flaaen spoke
of the dramatic increase in sales for the Buick brand, in the last year.
Of particular interest to both Buick and our members, was the fact that
south east Florida has become a remarkably strong market for them, with
some models showing increased sales of more than 400%.
Buick Marketing Manager, then started his “two part” presentation on the
brand new Buick Regal – the first part as a discussion about developing
this new car, and the second part later, down on the floor of the
convention center where we could actually get inside the car. Mr.
Mayotte spoke of how the new Regal is a dramatic departure from the
Regal of the past, from both a styling AND performance standpoint. The
intent was not only to create a more fuel efficient vehicle, but also to
create a FUN vehicle by giving it dynamic handling abilities – something
never before associated with the name Buick. So different is the new
Regal, that it will be available with…………get ready………….a manual gearbox!
An extremely good
looking car, the new Regal seems to be about the size of a “3” series
BMW, and indeed, were the name badges removed, one may be tempted to
think it WAS a new BMW! Both inside and out, it seems to have the
makings of a winner, and a good number of members were overheard talking
about looking forward to seeing the good people from Prestige dropping
one off for a test.
For a company like
Buick to make such a dramatic change in their lineup, they first have to
have people with foresight at the top. Admiration, along with some
amazement, came from both the previous speakers, along with Greg Ross,
Buick-GMC Sales and Marketing Manager for Florida, as they talked of GM
Chairman Ed Whitacre as being a real “hands on” boss. Mr. Ross told a
story of being on vacation with his wife ( for one of the two days off
he takes each year), where he rigidly avoids answering his cell phone.
Except on this day, he noticed a new number from the Detroit area, and
thought that maybe he should answer. Yes, it was Ed Whitacre, asking if
he might “hang out” with him for a few days to see what was happening in
the real world down here.
It almost goes hand
in hand, that Mr. Whitacre is currently working “under” one of our
automotive favorites, Bob Lutz, and when Mr. Lutz retires in two months,
he appears to be leaving the company in good hands.
Our sincere thanks to
all of the good people from Buick who took the time to come down to our
meeting, and based on whet we saw at this meeting, we certainly look
forward to hearing more about those future projects that they “wanted to
talk about , but couldn’t”.
As always, should any
members have suggestions for improving our organization, please bring
them up to one of our executive officers at our next meeting, as we all
want to continue this organizational growth.