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What's The MIC Up To By Allowing Dealers to Join After 30 Years?

Right before this year's Dealer Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), the trade association for motorcycle and powersport manufactures made a surprise announcement on February 12. The MIC announced that it was admitting dealers to their manufactures' trade association by benefits ultimately paid for by the OEMs' substantial "dues" contributions to the MIC. Many oldtime dealers, who were attending the dealer show, were flabbergasted by the offer from the MIC to admit dealers to their trade association, especially since they tried it once before, 42 years ago in 1971.

In 1971, the MIC established motorcycle dealer associations in every state, building a great grassroots organization. Each state's association was designed as: ___(state name)___ Motorcycle Industry Council. After just 3 years, in November 1974, the Presidents of each of the states groups received a telegram stating that as of January 1, 1975, all of the state associations were dissolved.

What was the straw which broke the camel's back that convinced the MIC to throw their dealer members out? - Dealer Franchise Protection! At that time, the country's motorcycle dealers wanted to get what their auto dealer cousins had - passing franchise law protection so that increasingly aggressive OEMs would not be able to take advantage of them.

That was clearly not in the best interests of the motorcycle manufactures, so the dealers were left with no state associations in which to organize collective actions.

So why has the MIC magnanimously opened its doors to motorcycle dealers?
If you can get by their offers of scattered dealership benefits, nebulous goals of enrolling a dealer in every congressional district and a chance to be on a "Dealer Advisory Council," what real reasons would the MIC have for opening its doors to dealer members?

1. Does the MIC hope to take members from the state dealer associations, crippling them when it comes time to lobby state legislators on franchise issues?

2. Could the MIC be thinking that by having even a few dealer members, the MIC will be able to say that they represent dealers in testimony before elected officials?

Why not?The MIC already testifies in state legislatures that they represent dealers even before they started their dealer program.

Could the real reason for this sudden interest in dealers (after 38 years) be because the MIC has not been very successful in stopping motorcycle dealer franchise from reform legislation, and splitting dealers is about the last tactic left to them?

Well, goals like these are more in line with the fine print of their dealer program offer: For instance, you and other dealers will be non-voting members and will never have a seat on their Board.

In addition, if your state association introduces bills to offer protection against OEMs which have an inordinate amount of their resources to intimidate their dealers into making illogical facilities upgrades, illegally terminate dealers, and force unwanted, inappropriate inventory on them, you won't get any help from the MIC - In fact, you'll be fighting against them!

If you read the third page of the MIC's "Dealer Membership FAQs" #4 (center left), you will find where you, and your dealership, stand in the MIC's set of priorties:
"4. Are there any issues for which MIC is not avaliable to me?
To the extent such issues arise, MIC has historically and will represent the interests of its manufacturer members in connection with state franchise legislation and related matters. MIC generally will not be able to assist Dealer members with issues unique to a single member."

John Paliwoda, Executive Director of the CMDA, and also the Director of a national umbrella organization comprised of state motorcycle dealer trade associations, called the National Council of Motorcycle Dealer Associations remarked, "Joining no trade association is better than belonging to one that fails to support or, worse, opposes dealers on the most important issue facing them: Dealer-OEM relations," he said.

"Why would a dealer cast a vote in favor of a group by joining it, if the group wants lawmakers to vote against dealer rights?"
In response, Dealernews reports that the President of MIC, Tim Buche, weakly responded that the benifits outweigh potential conflicts over franchise rights.

We'll let dealers be the judge of what's more important if they carefully read the MIC membership contract fine print, first.
However, the CMDA is a motorcycle dealer association, not a motorcycle OEM trade association.

In spite of these challenges with MIC, the CMDA continues to welcome working with the MIC, on issues for importance to both manufactures and dealers.

For example, the CMDA's Paliwoda worked tirelessly to engage CMDA members to contact their congressional reps to pass an exclusion for youth off-road vehicles from the kids lead ban, a few years ago.

That worked then, and if the MIC reached out to state motorcycle dealer trade associations for help, instead of hoping to enroll one of their dealers in every congressional district, they'd actually achieve some real results in the future.

History of the Powersports Dealership Association of Colorado

PDAC has been in continuous operation for 40 years, prior to 1998, as the Colorado Motorcycle Dealers Association. A small group of forward thinking Colorado dealers realized that a motorcycle trade association would be a necessity in the years to come as local, state and the federal governments passed more laws of increasing complexity. Having a media spokesperson and a forum to discuss challenges facing the industry where further considerations.

This position has shown itself to be true as decades of laws and regulations have repeatedly posed serious threats to the profitability of the market in Colorado. Almost without exception, PDAC has successfully turned back these ill-conceived attacks on the industry.

Additionally, PDAC serves as the spokesperson on your behalf with the media. When they come calling, and they always do, your association undertakes the responsibility of placing your position before the public, politicians and bureaucrats with facts, not rumor or hysteria. This public information function is critical to the image of your business and the health of the industry statewide. Of equal importance is providing a network and a forum (your board meetings) to discuss timely issues and prepare strategies to cope with them.

On average, PDAC's Executive Director and lobbyist reviews over 700 bills annually and tracks dozens of bills on a daily basis in the Colorado General Assembly. Those bills over the years have repeatedly attempted to; repeal Sunday closing laws, include motorcycles under personal injury protection insurance requirements, and require emissions testing of motorcycles.

Once again, PDAC defeated all negative legislation and kept track of legislation that could have been amended to seriously harm the dealers. Please remember we are speaking of a four month legislative session and over 700 pieces of legislation!

Over the long history of the association there have been many successful lobbying efforts to kill legislation harmful to dealers. For example, when Colorado required personal injury protection as part of no-fault MV insurance, PDAC not only had motorcycles excluded, but defeated 5 attempts over 8 years to amend the no-fault statute to include motorcycles. Is no-fault a huge problem? Delaware included motorcycles and until it could be repealed dealers lost 50% of their street bike business!

There have been many, many other successes including stopping the following; a motorcycle lemon law, a surcharge on motorcycle tire disposal, mandatory health insurance for motorcyclists, a ban on 2 way communications on motorcycles, attempts to raise fines for motorcycle dealer violations, lowering noise emissions to levels motorcycles could not meet, inclusion in the Front Range Clean Air Program with requirements that could not be met and more.

Despite the effective efforts to stop bad legislation, PDAC also takes a proactive stance when looking to benefit its members. Prior to 1987, little was done to assure public lands stayed open to motorized recreation, especially under withering pressure from environmental organizations to lock the public out. Four months before the Blue Ribbon Coalition was organized PDAC waded in with Colorado's existing off highway vehicle organizations to form the Colorado Off highway Vehicle Coalition.

This organization has relied on PDAC for direction with PDAC's executive director serving as chairman for many years. COHVCO has had many successes and PDAC has been right there from the start. Responding to the need for funds to build and maintain OHV trails, PDAC led the fight to pass the Colorado OHV Recreation Act in 1990. To date over 16 million dollars have been raised for motorized trails!

Safety is always an issue for our industry. PDAC drafted and spearheaded the legislative movement to create the Motorcycle Operator Safety Training Program. Once again, PDAC's executive director served on the MOST committee for 6 years helping to ensure proper implementation. Rider training graduates have grown ten fold since the passage of the legislation.

Of great concern to dealers is the issue of franchise legislation. PDAC was shoulder to shoulder with the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association in amending and broadening protection for motor vehicle dealers in Colorado. Since our initial participation, PDAC has extended the Colorado Franchise law to protect powersports products that are not included as motor vehicles. Most recently PDAC joined with the auto dealers to stop manufacturers who file bankruptcy from walking away from existing dealers and destroying their investment without compensation.

One of the latest threats that lead to licensing for the sale of powersports products was the proliferation of big box stores and auto parts stores selling scooters dirt bikes, and ATVs without their manufacturers or dealers being licensed in the state.

PDAC passed legislation for our dealers to have Full use Plates for auto, trucks and motorcycles to remove the possibility of being ticketed for using a demo plate. These plates are quite inexpensive and require no sales or use tax on the vehicles the dealer is using personally.

The market is soft after years of unprecedented growth. It is more important than ever that every dealer participate and financially support their Association. We cannot show weakness or lack of interest. To win and win consistently, this Association must increase its membership, its dealer participation and its financial resources.

Without the Powersports Dealers Association and its professional staff, who exactly stands between you and disaster?



PDAC provides an invaluable service in representing our interests at the state legislature and in regulators offices. Its work to include powersports dealers in the state's vehicle franchise laws was a boon both to the industry and to dealers. PDAC has also been instrumental in enhancing Colorado's franchise laws for the benefit of both motorcycle and powersports vehicle dealers. PDAC also plays an invaluable role in protecting the rights and interests of dealers as new laws and regulations are proposed and passed every year.