The Cleveland Automobile Dealers Association was originally assembled in 1903 for the purposes of participating in parades, contests and automobile shows. The first Cleveland Auto Show was held at Gray’s Armory in February that same year in downtown Cleveland, featuring 15 Cleveland-made automobiles, in addition to several other manufacturer exhibits from other cities throughout the country.
With leading automakers of the time, like Winton, White, Jordan and Peerless — just to name a few — the city of Cleveland was regarded as one of the leading manufacturers early in the American automobile industry. In fact, Cleveland was considered the first Motor City until 1908, when Detroit became center stage for the burgeoning industry.
CADA was incorporated as the Cleveland Automotive Trade Association (CATA) in 1915 as a corporation for profit. Even though its activities were of a non-profit nature, the advent of corporate income tax regulations later made it apparent that the Association’s financial growth consistent with industry growth could only be made at the sacrifice of large tax ramifications, even though the activities were non-profit in scope.
With growth, came the complexities of taxes, federal and state regulations, and a myriad of other issues facing the franchised motor vehicle industry. As a result, motor vehicle retailers increasingly turned to their Association for solutions and relief in these important matters.
Later, the organization evolved to enhance dealer services to the membership, provide educational training programs, engage in philanthropic benefits, fundraising and donations to the community. Swamped by increasing government regulations and growing consumer demands, dealers came to rely on CADA’s expertise and specialized personnel.
The Automobile Dealers Educational Assistance Foundation, Inc. (ADEAF) was founded in 1970. Originally formed as a legal defense fund, providing financial assistance to dealers in legal proceedings, today ADEAF funds charitable contributions on behalf of the dealer group, provides a number of scholarship awards, and funds industry public affairs, public relations, and other communications programs. It also assists with the funding of the Association’s general operating budget.
Today, the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers’ Association (GCADA), which represents over 250 new motor vehicle dealerships in a 21-county region of northern Ohio, including franchised new-car and truck, motorcycle and recreational vehicle (RV) dealers, provides 45 products and programs, including many specialized services such as a second-tier financing company, HR management program, sales consultant and title clerk training classes, in-house legal services, and promotes the Cleveland Auto Show.