ASOTU In NYC, Car Shipment Pivot, Tom Doll Legacy 

March 27, 2024
Welcome to Wednesday as we recap yesterday’s trip to NYC, the AutoForum, VaynerMedia, and podcast with NYT Bestselling author, Will Guidara. We also talk about the plan to keep imported cars moving toward dealer lots despite the bridge collapse, as well as a Newsweek nod to Tom Doll’s lasting contribution to the Subaru brand and to the industry. 
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Show Notes with links:

Following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge yesterday, both GM and Ford have announced plans to divert vehicle shipments to alternative ports in order to maintain seamless operations.

  • The Port of Baltimore, a vital hub for car shipments in the U.S., faces potential setbacks after the collapse. In 2023, the port saw over 750,000 car shipments.
  • Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW, having facilities not directly impacted by the collapse, anticipated no significant disruptions. Nissan also expected minimal impact. Mercedes reported no impact on vehicle exports or its Alabama plant's parts supply, while Stellantis said it is "initiating discussions with our various transportation providers on contingency plans to ensure an uninterrupted flow of vehicles to our customers."
  • Some industry experts are not as confident as the OEMS. “There will certainly be a disruption," said John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation. "Baltimore is the No. 1 automobile port in the U.S.”
  • "It's going to have an impact," said Ford CFO John Lawler, "We'll have to divert parts to other ports... It will probably lengthen the supply chain a bit," 

  • Our friend Tom Doll, the former CEO of Subaru of America, has been named to Newsweek’s World’s Greatest Auto Disruptors as the 2024 Legacy of Disruption honoree. Doll's 40-year tenure leaves behind a legacy that transformed Subaru into a beloved and LOVE-ing brand.
    • Other Subaru leaders talked about Doll shaped Subaru with grace, confidence, and compassion, fostering an environment of trust and open dialogue across the company.
    • Under Doll's guidance, Subaru launched the Love campaign and the Share the Love Event, moving from price and incentive based selling to create a strong emotional connection with customers by making a $250 donation to a charity of the customer’s choice. These initiatives not only differentiated Subaru but also made the automaker a major donor to the National Parks Service, ASPCA, Meals on Wheels, and Make-A-Wish. 
    • "Tom wanted to replace the traditional negative stereotype of car dealers with something that was much better for the customer experience,” said Subaru’s SVP of Marketing, Alan Bethke. “Many automotive brands have adversarial relationships with their franchise dealers. Tom wanted the opposite."
    • Burton Hughes, general manager at Subaru of Las Vegas said "Tom wasn't Superman, he was Clark Kent—a mild-mannered, unassuming leader who helped define our brand with one word: love.”

Paul J Daly: 0:21

Good morning, everybody. Wednesday, March 27. Kyle and I are backwards hat mode because we just like we're in New York City all day yesterday like a 20 hour day. But we're gonna talk about that today talking about a car shipment pivot and Tom doll, his legacy recognized by people outside the industry, which is the super cool

Kyle Mountsier: 0:39

part about I always love talking about Tom doll. I don't really care what it is about because he's just great. And

Paul J Daly: 0:45

there's a great quote at the end of this article that we'll drop in. But Kyle you me Nathan, rollin heavy in New York City all day yesterday from early morning till late at night, we went to the JD Power auto for JD Power NADA auto forum, we went to VaynerMedia headquarters podcast and with will get Dara, we went to a little after party on this rooftop thing. And I felt like we got like, you can't go into New York without feeling like in touch with some like entrepreneurial energy.

Kyle Mountsier: 1:16

There was a lot of energy there. It felt like Gen Z city up at Vayner headquarters also got older. The other route is like we rolled in heavy who really wrote in heavy was our producer, Nathan, if you know him, this cat carried a 40 pound rucksack across New York City ran ahead of us was taking photos. Just was a full trooper. So yeah,

Paul J Daly: 1:42

next time you're near a 40 pound dumbbell in a weight room, pick it out on your back. And he carried that thing all over the city with a camera in his hand. Yeah, it was it was expert level it was it was masterclass level,

Kyle Mountsier: 1:53

it was a master class. And

Paul J Daly: 1:54

then we get to Vayner headquarters, we set the podcast and like, you know, in an office move things around, I can't wait to share this with people.

Kyle Mountsier: 2:02

Literally, it was, it's one of my favorite I ever agreed saying like it was just one we don't typically get to do. And we don't put ourselves in situations where we're doing 4045 minute podcasts, because it is hard to maintain a conversation like that, but I missed it. I do miss it, too. It was a really, really good conversation. And I think that if you're in the industry, and paying attention to what it means to be hospitable, and also like push the boundaries of your business, it's a must listen. You

Paul J Daly: 2:32

know, one of the things that like, when you talk about hospitality, when you talk about kind of the soft skills, we'll call them in business. It's easy for people to think like that doesn't impact my bottom line is I go no, no, no will will is like focused on being number one. Absolutely right. Because we're sitting there. I'm like this, this man right here literally led the best restaurant in the world.

Kyle Mountsier: 2:54

Yeah, that's not cheap. And it also doesn't not make kind of

Paul J Daly: 2:58

a crowded marketplace too. And I will say that he didn't disappoint in person. We cannot wait for you to meet him in person at a soda Con this year. Oh, yeah. Here's a picture of us. We're putting it up right now. He walked in, he seemed that saw the love people more than you love cars shirt. And he was like, oh, yeah, I like that. And immediately he opened the gift bag that we bought for him. And he put on his love people more than you love. He's like, I'd wear that shirt. And he did wear that shirt for the podcast interview. And he worked out in the building too. So we'll share that with you soon. Hey, awesome news today, today and just several hours from now the more than cars premiere of Episode Three is coming in to talk about hospitality, talking about the frontlines. Talk about a business that knows how to crush and be number one in their market. We're at the Western Auto Group in Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, but we spent most of our time in Buffalo for this, you can just go to our Nathan is it up on our homepage. Now? We were talking about that? No, it's not. It's okay. But if you go to LinkedIn searches, so to click on Events, we have premiere event. It's right there. We're also live streaming on YouTube. So our YouTube channel 1pm. Eastern, be there with us. We're going to be in the comments. We're gonna be having a lot of fun. And we hope you can join us and see the episode. Yeah, take take five minutes out of your day. Watch the first five minutes if you can. You'll probably keep watching though, because you

Kyle Mountsier: 4:19

definitely keep watching. It gets really good. It gets really good.

Paul J Daly: 4:23

Yeah. And just being at the JD Power Otto NADA summit yesterday, made, there was a lot of OEM representation, a lot of high level conversations going on. And just a lot of connecting with people that are doing things all across the industry, whether that is in finance, whether that is in advocacy, whether it's in you know, Evie conversations and people that were there. They I just was reminded that the asoto community and what we're doing I can't tell you how many people said to me, keep doing what you're doing. We need it. Thank

Kyle Mountsier: 4:59

you can Keep doing what you're doing. Also just the energy of round being really good at what we do, as an industry is dialed palpable, right? It is right there, there was no lack of conversation on how do we continue to press the boundary on consumer experience on profitability, on the ability to manage use car, new car inventory. So I, I just want to remind people like it is not last in our industry that we are in a consistent pursuit of excellence, as an industry. And so whether or not that means something to you individually at your dealership, or as you look globally at the industry, like those things are getting worked on. And so the things that maybe that you see a gap in your own work, because there are large things that others are doing good work on, to make better for our industry. And for consumers. I just don't want people to miss that. Because not everybody gets out to these things and can see that it gets done. Another

Paul J Daly: 6:01

thing I think people can miss is I think it was Rob Cochran that said this from the stage, at the end of him talking about all these different issues. He said, and let's never, ever forget that focusing on our consumer as the reason we can do any of these things and giving them what they need and what they want in a way they want it. We can never lose focus of that. And I really don't. Aside from the stigma, I don't think there's another industry that focuses on it more, it literally only talks about I

Kyle Mountsier: 6:28

know it's not so

Unknown: 6:31

yeah, so totally against the stereotype.

Kyle Mountsier: 6:33

It is right there in front of us.

Paul J Daly: 6:34

We have a little content to share from that event. We are going to be releasing the Wilga Dara podcast shortly. Hope you can join us in May 15 16th. For a soda con in Baltimore. A lot of people that were there said they're going Gary Barbera was like hey, I'm gonna be there. I had no idea he even like paid attention to where he's like you guys show up every day. He's like, I watch your stuff. I listen to your podcast this morning. Go ahead and quiz me. He said I don't know how old he is. But he is sharp as a frickin tech. Alright, let's talk about a little bit of news today. We want to give you a little summary on yesterday. And we're going to do just two stories today. This is one that everyone has definitely heard of heard about. You know, we found out about it when we were kind of on our flights over but following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge yesterday in Baltimore. Both the GM and Ford have announced plans to divert vehicle shipments to alternative ports to maintain some seamless operations. So the Port of Baltimore is a incredibly vital hub for all auto shipments in the US. It's one of the most crowded ones over three quarters of a million vehicles came through that port last year. Toyota VW BMW, they say they're not directly impacted by the collapse. Nissan also said minimal impact. Mercedes is saying limited, the Lantis said it's initiating discussions with various transportation providers. Obviously Ford and GM, you know, relied on that pretty heavily. Some industry experts are not as confident as the OEMs. John was Ella CEO of the Alliance for automotive innovation said they'll certainly be a disruption. Baltimore's the number one port for auto in the US, and Ford CFO John Lawler said, it's going to have an impact. We'll have to divert parts. Also, I didn't think about that the parts to the other ports as well. And it'll probably lengthen our supply chain a little bit. But, you know, the plans are already underway. And they're really good at logistics. Yeah. I

Kyle Mountsier: 8:20

mean, when you think about the closest port to the big three in Detroit, that's going to be Baltimore, right? Just from our proximity perspective. There's

Paul J Daly: 8:27

one in New Jersey, but it's like, it's harder actually to get thing from New Jersey to think of where the proximity is to lab set up there. Yeah, Baltimore has an easier trip

Kyle Mountsier: 8:35

for it's an easier trip. And so yeah, when you look at parts and vehicles coming in to the ports, definitely a major impact is going to be is going to be at least felt short term where these companies are scrambling to figure out where to divert ships where to divert traffic on their parts and their their inventory. I you know, like, I don't think you're going to see the the mash at the mass chaos, like we saw back when there was chip shortages and stuff like that, but they'll probably be, you know, a good couple few weeks where things are starting to get sorted out. But we probably won't see that impact for another five to six weeks on on ground inventory. If there is just because you saw plenty of Port inventory with most of these manufacturers. Yeah, we're doing okay, so we're doing okay, but I think the biggest thing for me is like, man, for the people of Baltimore for everybody impacted by that, like we didn't get to say yesterday, but just just a wild time and crazy time. And like, yes, we want business to continue. But there's people that are significantly impacted by what happened yesterday. And so just don't lose sight of that when we're thinking about, Hey, are we gonna have cars to sell? Right? They're both important.

Paul J Daly: 9:41

Yeah, that's a good great point. Speaking about keeping people is the important part. Well, our good friend Oh man, such I love this guy Tom doll, former CEO of Subaru of America has been named to Newsweek's World's Greatest auto disruptors it's so appropriate as the 2024 legacy disruption honoree Tom dulls 40 year tenure leaves behind a legacy that transformed Subaru and tweed beloved and loving brand other Subaru leaders were talking about how he shaped Subaru with grace, confidence and compassion, fostering this environment they have their of trust and open dialog and that shows if you've ever been to a toy a Subaru make meeting, you realize that it is it they're sharing the love. Under his guidance, Subaru launched the love campaign and share the love event, moving from price and incentive based selling to create strong emotional connection with customers by making a $250 donation to charity the customer's choice of smart they didn't only set Subaru apart but also made the automaker a major donor to the National Park Service, ASPCA Meals on Wheels and make a wish this is my favorite part of this heart whole article. Subaru as SVP of marketing LMFT said Tom wanted to replace the traditional negative stereotype of dealers with something that was much better for the customer experience. Many automotive brands have adversarial relationships with franchise dealers with their franchise dealers. Tom wanted the opposite. And then Brian Hughes, gm of Subaru of Las Vegas said Tom wasn't Superman. He was Clark Kent unassuming leader who helped define our brand with one word, love.

Kyle Mountsier: 11:18

Look. First of all, this is like one of those where it's like one of us Oh my god. I mean, this I honestly I wish I would have known Tom doll earlier like I've known the Subaru brand for years and years, but just knowing that so much of that brand has come out of his desire for like even just saying, No, we're going to, we're going to build into our ethos. The dealers are not dealers, they're retailers that we're going to build into our ethos. This word love is something that you don't see from brands at that scale. It doesn't matter the vertical and so it is like it's there's no wonder that he is receiving awards like this outside of auto, because you see this as a brand play that can that has impacted others move into into their own verticals in their own marketplaces. Yeah, so And here's the thing like if you never met Tom doll, that's the he was Clark Kent, a mild mannered unassuming leader who up the fine art brand with one word love that phrase, like Burton Hughes, you are have a way with words, because when you meet him and you see him in person, and I think that we would do well as an industry to take that manner of approach with people the way that Tom does in a room and assume that as an industry, because I think that our customer base, our employees would be wildly impacted by that presence. You

Paul J Daly: 12:51

know, Tom, the time we got to spend with him over the years always been he's been a supporter of ASOTU from the very, very, very, very beginning. Yeah, he came to the very first event. When you think of automotive disrupter, when you think of the word disrupter, you do not think if you were like that guy if you didn't know you're like one of the world's most auto disruptors in the automotive industry. It's that guy right there. You'd be like No, stop. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Clark kid, for sure. For sure, man, I don't know maybe. I don't know. I'm gonna reach out to him. See if maybe he wants to join us in a soda calm for a little you should sort of round of drinks. He's got some of the best stories by the way. You have to ask him like off the record of like, just just kind of hanging out with the Japanese Super. It's amazing. It's amazing. Oh, well, look, we hope you have an amazing day. Hopefully we transferred a little bit of the passion and energy or indicted what is in you. Join us today for the more more than cars premiere of Episode Three LinkedIn events episode

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