There will be a lot of "firsts" at the 83rd annual NADA Convention and Expo-sition Jan. 22-25 in Orlando, FL. Record attendance is predicted.
As NADA's first convention in Orlando, the show also will be the first of the new century and millennium.
Backing up the business side of the convention will be more than 91,000 hotel rooms, approximately 3,800 restaurants and 80 attractions for adults and children.
The NADA programs offer some firsts, too. Ford Chairman William Clay Ford, Jr., will address the opening session Saturday, Jan. 22, and become the youngest keynoter at 42, in convention history.
Two days later, at the second general session, former U.S. President George Bush will deliver an address. One of his sons, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, may introduce his father.
O.K., so it's not a first, but the Orange County Convention Center is third largest in the U.S. It contains more than 1.1 million sq.-ft. of exhibition space and 313,000 sq. ft. of meeting rooms.
Mr. Ford and President Bush will share the podium with the outgoing and incoming chairmen of NADA, respectively.
Outgoing Chairman James A. Will-ingham will give a farewell address after what proved a lively year from a factory-relations standpoint. Mr. Willingham is a Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealer in Long Beach, CA.
The new chairman is Harold B. Wells, a five-brand GM and four-brand DaimlerChrysler dealer in Smithville, NC.
Two women will account for firsts in peripheral convention meetings.
Barbara Vidmar, an import and domestic car dealer in Pueblo, CO, will become the first woman chairperson of any national dealer association at the American Import Auto Dealer Association's session Jan. 24.
The AutoCPA Group's pre-convention CFO forum Jan. 21 will present the first female keynote speaker of a convention session Maryann N. Keller. She a former Wall Street auto analyst who last summer joined Priceline.com as president of automotive services.
Orlando is a resort town with no shortage of attractions. Dealers seeking a break will find more than 125 golf courses within a 45-minute drive of downtown, plus more than 800 tennis courts.
Shoppers can browse through seven regional malls and hundreds of stand-alone stores adding up to more than 39 million sq.-ft. of retail space.
It's NADA's first convention in Florida since the Miami Beach outings of the 1970s. It establishes Orlando as the fourth site the convention rotation list. Orlando's next turn is in 2006.
Founded near an Army post in 1843, Orlando owes its name to Orlando Reeves, a soldier killed on patrol duty near what is now Lake Eola Park's downtown.
The fast-growing Orlando market lists three dealers on the Ward's Dealer Business 500 for 1998. They are McInerney Ford, Massey Cadillac and Central Florida Lincoln Mercury.
The Ward's Megadealer 100 for 1998 includes the eight-store Holler Automotive Group, based in nearby Maitland, FL.
The nation's largest megadealer, AutoNation Inc., is represented in the Orlando market by eight stores in the Don Mealey Group.