Washington Insider | NADA


The Pohanka family has a long history with NADA. In fact, the Pohanka family business and NADA’s business started at about the same time.

Frank S. Pohanka opened his first dealership in Washington, DC in 1919, just two years after NADA was founded. “I have a long family relationship with his NADA and know the organization well,” says Jeffrey Pohanka, Frank’s grandson and his NADA president in 2023. “When his father took over the business in 1959, NADA’s headquarters was three blocks from the dealership he was in.”

Pohanka’s father, John, became NADA Director in Maryland and in 1976 NADA President. “Giving back to NADA is in our family history going back to the 1950s,” he says Pohanka.

building a business

Pohanka was 13 when she started working at her family’s dealership in the summer of the 1970s. He attended Colgate University and planned to attend his school of business, but his father first encouraged him to work full-time at a dealership (Oldsmobile, Honda, Fiat) for his two years. rice field. “We sold a lot of cars, but the service department was so poor that I almost got kicked out of business,” he says Pohanks. “When I told my father that I wanted to do something else, he asked if I would participate in a month-long training program at the General Motors Institute in Flint, Michigan. I wrote a comprehensive report on what needed to be done to ‘fix’ and moved on. My father liked my report so much that he offered to leave me with the pinning operation to implement the changes. I accepted it and did it. So here we are today. “

Today, Pohanka Automotive Group has 20 locations in Maryland, Virginia and Texas and is ranked 34th among the nation’s top 150 dealer groups on Automotive News’ 2021 list. And his fourth and his fifth generation of the family now work for the dealer group, including his two children in Pohanka, daughter Laura and son Kevin.

Cooperation with NADA

Like his father, Pohanka was involved with the Washington Area New Auto Dealers Association (WANADA), rising to the position of president in 1998 and serving as president of WANADA’s Washington DC Auto Show in 2016.

Pohanka served on NADA’s Board of Directors from 2001 to 2009, but left to move three legacy dealers. He returned to the board in 2015 and chairs the Industry Relations Committee.

Pohanka was elected Vice Chairman of NADA in 2022 and represents dealers in the Washington, DC area on NADA’s Board of Directors.

“It’s important for dealers to give back to our industry,” says Pohanka. “My skill set is well suited to the times and many of the challenges facing the industry. I have a lot of retail experience, but I have also worked with manufacturers and politicians.”

mission 2023

The challenges Pohanka will tackle as chairman in 2023 include combating regulations that hurt business, strengthening the transition of auto retailers to electric vehicles, and improving relationships between manufacturers and car dealers, including the use and sharing of customer data. strengthening, etc. These are addressed by his NADA’s new Guiding Principles. .

“One of the biggest challenges we face is messaging,” says Pohanka. “Fundamentally, car dealers and car manufacturers want the same thing: sell lots of cars and take care of their customers. I don’t understand it completely.”

When it comes to electric vehicles, Pohanka is all in, now driving his third EV, the Volkswagen ID-4. “When dealers started asking questions about electrification, people thought we were against it,” he says. “We are not against it. We are worried about affordability and charging infrastructure.”

As someone with deep roots in the Washington, DC area, Pohanka says he is uniquely qualified to lead NADA and the Auto Dealers Association. “I have been in industry and government relationships for a long time, so I understand how things work.

“We’ve been challenged by governments and others, but we have a lot of strengths, including community involvement,” Pohanka adds. “We are consumer-focused, adaptable to changing circumstances, and our franchise system is resilient. People outside the franchise system do not recognize our strengths.”
of what we are doing well. “

52
Years Pohanka worked in auto retail

1919
Pohanka’s grandfather, Frank S. Pohanka, opens the family’s first dealership in Washington, DC.

1998
The Year Pohanka Served as President of the Washington Area New Car Dealers Association

1,700
Number of employees of Pohanka Automotive Group

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