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2017 AutoConference LA Speakers Coming Soon
2016 AutoConference LA Speakers
Jeffrey B. Carlson
Jeff Carlson is president of Glenwood Springs Ford and Glenwood Springs Subaru in Glenwood Springs, Colo. and Summit Ford in Silverthorne, Colo. After graduating from the University of Northern Colorado, he started in the automotive business in 1973, working for Ford Motor Co. In 1979 he joined Glenwood Springs Ford, Lincoln Mercury as a sales manager. He purchased interest in Glenwood Ford in 1982 and became president in 1986, expanding the business from a single dealership to the current three dealerships over the past 33 years. Carlson is 2016 vice chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association and represents Colorado's franchised new-car dealers on its board of directors. (Term: October 2004-January 2018)
KC Crain Jr.
Executive Vice President/Director of Corporate Operations
KC Crain Jr. is executive vice president and director of corporate operations for Crain Communications Inc, overseeing the technology, knowledge management, audience development and digital teams for the entire organization.
KC is also group publisher of Crain's Chicago Business, Crain’s Detroit Business and all brands under Crain's Automotive Group and Global Polymer Group which include Automotive News and Plastics News. Previously, he held roles of vice president of Crain Communications, as well as associate publisher and advertising director at Autoweek. He started at Crain as a reporter for Automotive News.
Active in a number of civic and business activities, KC serves on the boards of the Detroit Children's Fund, the Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Young Presidents Organization. He is also a trustee of the College for Creative Studies.
In addition to keen interests and influential connections throughout the automotive, tech and publishing industries, KC is dedicated to Detroit’s economic development with investments and partnerships in real estate and restaurant ventures.
KC Crain earned a B.A. in Communications from Denison University. He and his wife Ashley live in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., with their four young children.
Charles W. Gilchrist
NADA Industry Relations Committee Chairman
Charles W. "Charlie" Gilchrist is president of Southwest Ford in Weatherford, Texas. He started in the automotive business as controller of a heavy-truck store, then was general manager of two Ford dealerships, SouthWest Ford and Nichols Ford. Charlie became president of SouthWest Ford in 1992. Gilchrist represents Northern Texas's franchised new-car dealers on the board of directors of the National Automobile Dealers Association.
Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Global Automotive Division
John Humphrey is Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Global Automotive Division at J.D. Power. He is the lead executive responsible for sales, strategy and operational management for the company’s global automotive practice covering North and South America, Europe and Asia.
Previously, Mr. Humphrey was Senior Vice President of International Operations with overall responsibility for the company’s global activities in Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Canada, which includes offices in Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Toronto, London, Munich, Mexico City and Sao Paulo. He was responsible for strategic leadership and management for key global markets; establishing long-range goals and strategies; and coordinating all business and product development efforts covering the automotive, financial services, travel and telecom sectors.
Mr. Humphrey joined J.D. Power in 1989. From 2003 to 2008, he focused on the company’s Asia Pacific business, most recently serving as vice president and general manager of operations. He was responsible for the inception of the company’s China operations and resided in Shanghai for two years. He played a key role in further expanding J.D. Power’s presence in the Asia Pacific region. Earlier, he was an executive in the company’s Consulting Division. His primary responsibilities involved working with organizations to identify operational and process-related concerns, as well as consulting with client executives on the development and implementation of strategies for sales and customer retention improvement. Previously, he was responsible for analytical and advisement services in the areas of product quality; long-term durability and reliability; customer satisfaction; and distribution strategies.
Mr. Humphrey is a key spokesperson for J.D. Power. He is a frequent guest on major business networks and regularly quoted by the media on trends and future outlook for the global automotive industry.
Mr. Humphrey earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Arizona State University and an MBA from Pepperdine University.
President and CEO
Dietmar Exler became president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) in January 2016. In this role, Exler has overall responsibility for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, Mercedes- Benz Vans and the smart brand in the United States. He leads MBUSA’s more than 1,600 employees and 374 dealers throughout the U.S.
Exler’s most recent post was vice president of sales for MBUSA, with overall responsibility for the company’s sales, volume planning and distribution operations in the United States. Exler’s career spans nearly two decades with international business experience in various leadership roles. He began at McKinsey & Co. in 1997 as part of the financial interest group in their Germany office and later in their Midwest office, based out of Detroit, Mich. Five years later, Exler joined Chrysler Financial as senior manager of program development and was promoted to vice president of marketing the same year.
In 2004, Exler became vice president of customer services for (then) DaimlerChrysler Financial Services in Farmington Hills, Mich., before transferring to Germany in 2005, where he served as chief operating officer of Daimler Financial Services Europe and member of the board at Mercedes-Benz Bank. Exler returned to the U.S. in 2010 after being appointed vice president for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA. Originally from Austria, Exler studied at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, where he received his doctorate in law. He also holds a master of laws from the University of Chicago. Exler has been a member of the New York State Bar Association since 1997. He currently resides in Brookhaven, GA.
Glenn Mercer has spent three decades following the auto industry, the first two as an automotive specialist at consulting firm McKinsey, and the third as an independent advisor to investors in automotive. He covers the entire automotive value chain, from suppliers, to OEMs, to dealers, and then beyond, into the aftermarket, but today will be drawing upon his expertise in new and used retailing. Some of you may be familiar with his work over the years for NADA, in researching the return on investment dealers can expect from factory facility programs -- or in many cases, the lack of such a return! He has also given presentations on facility programs and future dealership trends to numerous state dealer associations.
Vice President, Publisher and Editor
As vice president, publisher and editor of Automotive News, Jason Stein directs the editorial and commercial operations for one of the world’s largest automotive business-to-business media organizations.
Mr. Stein became publisher in May 2013 after serving as editor and associate publisher for six months. In his continued role as Editor, Mr. Stein oversees more than 65 reporters and editors around the world, from Detroit to Paris to Shanghai. In addition to his editorial responsibilities, he also leads the digital, sales, marketing, event and audience departments. He is also the editorial director of Automotive News Europe and Automotive News China. In December 2015, he was named a Crain Communications vice president.
Mr. Stein joined Automotive News as a Detroit-based reporter in October 2003 before transferring to Automotive News Europe’s Munich headquarters in 2005. Two years later, he was named publisher of Automotive News Europe, a responsibility that included the management of the news and commercial operations, covering 32 European countries as well as marketing, digital, audience and event activities. In 2009, Mr. Stein moved back to Detroit to oversee the editorial operations of Automotive News. In 2012 he added the responsibility of associate publisher.
Before joining Automotive News, Mr. Stein was an award-winning automotive columnist, news and sports writer for a number of North American newspapers. A frequent speaker on automotive issues, he also spent time as a syndicated freelance writer and a contributor to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and other international radio programs.
Mr. Stein, a Canadian, holds a degree in political science from the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada.
In late 2015, Mr. Stein helped form the first annual Crain Communications/Michigan State University Detroit Journalism Program for aspiring journalists within the City of Detroit. He has served as a volunteer at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan and Cornerstone Schools in Detroit. He also holds a position as a juror for the World Car of the Year Award and Ford's annual Salute to Dealers recognition program at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention.
Vice President, U.S. Auto Quality
Renee Stephens is Vice President of U.S. Auto Quality at J.D. Power. She is responsible for key U.S. automotive quality studies designed to bring the Voice of the Customer (VOC) into the vehicle and component development anddelivery process. Additionally, she leads innovation projects and endeavors to understand customer behavior and preferences in the HMI areas and improve VOC visibility in the supply base.
Previously, Ms. Stephens worked at General Motors, most recently serving as director of quality data management in GM international operations, basedin Seoul, Korea. In that role, she was responsible for quality improvement incurrent and future products across Asia, Europe, Russia/CIS, Africa, Oceania, South America and the Middle East as well as products shipped to 140 countries globally.
Ms. Stephens spent 10 years as a certified quality engineer with the American Society of Quality and was acting as dean of the GM Quality College for five years. She was awarded the GM Korea President’s award and received two GM “People Make Quality Happen” awards. She is also frequently quoted in major media publications on industry quality.
Ms. Stephens received a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’sdegree in business administration concentrating in marketing research from Wayne State University.
A partner in Venable’s Regulatory Group, David Strickland’s practice focuses on transportation policy, consumer protection, Internet privacy, data security, and legislative and government affairs. He has significant federal government and private practice experience.
Most recently, Mr. Strickland served as the fourteenth Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As the top automotive safety official in the United States, he was responsible for executing the agency’s mission to reduce crash-related fatalities and injuries while insuring the highest standards of safety on the nation’s roads. Mr. Strickland oversaw a broad range of vehicle safety and policymaking programs, including setting vehicle safety standards, investigating possible safety defects, and tracking safety-related recalls; annually distributing over $600 million in highway safety grants to states and leading the behavioral safety program; and establishing and enforcing the regulations on fuel economy. His major accomplishments at NHTSA include overseeing the development of the first national fuel economy programs for both passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency, and implementing the vehicle safety and highway safety grant mandates included in the 2012 Highway Reauthorization (MAP-21). He also issued the first ever ejection mitigation standards for passenger vehicles to help keep passengers from being partially or fully ejected from vehicles during a rollover crash; mandated lap and shoulder belts be installed on all new motorcoaches; launched the nation’s largest connected vehicle (V2V) safety pilot program, and issued the first ever automated vehicle policy. In addition, Mr. Strickland brought national attention to child passenger safety issues and was a leader in the campaigns to fight impaired and distracted driving.
Peter K. Welch is President of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), a role he assumed in February 2013. Previously, Mr. Welch served as president and chief executive officer of the California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA)—the largest state association of franchised new car dealers in the United States. Earlier at the company, he was director of government and legal affairs. Prior to joining CNCDA in 1990, he was a partner with a Los Angeles law firm. Mr. Welch earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan, a master's degree from the University of Durham, England and a juris doctor's degree from Loyola Marymount University of Law, Los Angeles.
Hinrich J. Woebcken
CEO of the North America Region
Hinrich J. Woebcken is the CEO of the North American region for the Volkswagen brand, where he oversees all activities in the United States, Mexico and Canada. He is also President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWGOA); the U.S. operations of a worldwide family brands including Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Volkswagen, as well as VW Credit, Inc. Woebcken assumed both positions in April 2016.
Prior to joining Volkswagen AG in January 2016, Woebcken worked for 30 years in the automotive industry for Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs. He spent more than 10 years with the BMW Group where he held senior leadership positions, including Senior Vice President, Driving Dynamics. Additionally, Woebcken was a Member of the Executive Board and CEO Commercial Vehicle Systems Division at Knorr Bremse AG and has held various management positions with Krauss-Maffei AG and Dürr AG.
A native of Germany, Woebcken earned a degree in Industrial Engineering from University of Applied Science, Rosenheim Germany, in 1985.
President and Chief Executive Officer
David Zuchowski, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor America, is responsible for the strategic direction and management of the company’s operations in the United States.
Zuchowski, a 36-year veteran of the automotive industry, joined Hyundai Motor America in February 2007, as vice president of sales and was promoted to executive vice president, national sales in 2010. He was promoted to his current role as president and chief executive officer in January 2014.
Zuchowski joined Hyundai from Mazda North America where he served as vice president of sales and field operations.
Zuchowski began his career in 1980 at Ford Motor Company. He has spent 23 years in various executive-level positions including regional manager, product marketing manager, national merchandising manager and field operations manager for the Ford and Lincoln Mercury divisions.
Zuchowski earned his Bachelors of Arts in Communications from the University of Washington.