Dennis Jungmeyer Retires, Reflects on 38 Years at AADA

Dennis Jungmeyer Retires, Reflects on 38 Years at AADA
Dennis Jungmeyer  (File)

Dennis Jungmeyer has retired after leading the Arkansas Automobile Dealers Association for 38 years.

The AADA, which represents dealers throughout the state, named Greg Kirkpatrick as Jungmeyer's successor, effective Jan. 1. Kirkpatrick most recently served 11 years as executive director of the Arkansas Motor Vehicle Commission.

In an interview with Arkansas Business, Jungmeyer said the auto industry is a huge economic benefit to Arkansas. He said the average dealer supports his or her community, provides good-paying jobs, contributes to local and state taxes and represents nearly 20 percent of the state's sales and use tax.

"New car and truck dealers are pillars in their respective communities, and I am honored to have served them for 38 years," he said. "A great career indeed." 

AB: How has the industry changed since you joined the AADA as president 38 years ago?  

DJ: When I arrived in Arkansas, there were about 430 franchised new car and truck dealers in Arkansas, and all were family stores. They were located in every small town in nearly every county. They were leaders in their communities, active in local politics and provided jobs for nearly 12,000 families. 

Today we have 225 dealers with 40 percent of those owned by nine entities. They are still great business people employing thousands of families, but many communities do not have a new car or truck dealer.

AB: How long have you known your successor, and how do you think his leadership style differs from yours? 

DJ: Greg Kirkpatrick has been executive director of motor vehicles for several years, responsible for the regulation on franchised new car and truck dealers. He has served the MVC well, liked and respected by dealers and manufacturers alike. 

I am confident his leadership skills will enable him to continue the great success at AADA. He is young, energetic, an attorney and has technology skills that are foreign to me. He has a great career ahead of him.

AB: Mark McLarty is quickly growing his dealership portfolio in Arkansas and other states, including through the acquisition of dealerships once owned by a publicly traded company. Is there a trend developing here? Are publicly traded auto dealers facing headwinds?

DJ: Actually, publicly held dealerships are likely to continue to grow. Mom and pop stores will continue to decline. It is a trend with many industries ... a sign of the times.

AB: The auto industry seems to be on the cusp of radical change. New technology and new players — Tesla, Google, perhaps Apple — seem poised to reimagine the industry from the ground up. How are dealers positioned to navigate everything from new self-driving cars and ride-sharing to autos sold through non-traditional means?

DJ: Dealers today are poised to react to the daily changes in the industry. They have access to factory programs, independent auto-related companies, government regulatory agencies, trade associations, etcetera. Not to keep up spells failure, and there is too much at stake for that to happen.

AB: Who served as a mentor to you throughout your tenure, and how did they assist you in leading the association? 

DJ: I had the good fortune to work with Ralph Kalberloh [of the] Missouri Automobile Dealers Association. He taught me basic principles of association management, ethics in government relations and organizational skills that have served to provide me with a wonderful career working for great business leaders.

AB: What did you enjoy most about serving as president of the association?

DJ: Perhaps the most meaningful opportunity was to work for and with such great friends. Friends that we will enjoy for many years to come. 

AB: What are you going to do in retirement? 

DJ: I will still have some involvement with AADA and look forward to working with such good friends. I also plan to take a leisure van on the road with no particular agenda.

AB: Did you ever get tired of those jokes about car salesmen?   

DJ: Not at all, quite the contrary. There are always those who might give the industry a bad name, but most people like their dealer, like the experience of buying a car or truck and the great quality of vehicles today. That salesperson in the plaid coat is a thing of the past.