A Big Success—The ARA’s 70th Anniversary Event

ARA members gather to celebrate 70 years of excellence in the automotive industry over a fun-filled weekend.

Photos and text by Burhan Osman

From September 28 to October 1, the Automotive Retailers Association held its 70th Anniversary Celebration at the Hilton Resort & Spa in Whistler, British Columbia. This was a monumental event for the ARA, as it marked over 70 years of excellence in the automotive industry. Given that the ARA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) has been held virtually over the last few years, it was important to host a memorable event where members, friends, and peers could connect, unwind, and look back at their industry contributions.

The event kicked off bright and early Friday morning. Assisted by unseasonably warm, summer-like weather, the ARA Charity Golf Tournament was a great success. Held at the beautiful Whistler Golf Club, golfers were able to take in the beautiful sun and play 18 holes. The event had a great turnout, with all proceeds going to the Automotive Retailers Foundation’s (ARFI’s) bursary and scholarship fund.

ARA charity golf tournament

After golf, everyone gathered for the ARA luncheon, where attendees enjoyed a build-your-own burger bar. Guests were joined by luncheon guest speakers Chelsie Lesnoski and Cole Marten. Lesnoski and Marten are co-owners of Throttle Thrashers Garage, and they placed third in the Young Guns category of the Battle of the Builders competition last year. Lesnoski also holds the distinction of being the first female in history to make top three at SEMA. As two young individuals in the industry, the Throttle Thrasher’s owners gave an engaging discussion on how to attract young talent.

In the evening, everyone gathered again for the Chairman’s reception, dinner, and casino night.

Guest speakers Chelsie Lesnoski and Cole Marten

During this time, Chairman Ron Tremblay acknowledged all of the milestone members, with some having been members for 70 years. Also, golfers from the charity tournament were awarded a number of prizes for categories such as best putt, most honest foursome, longest drive, and more. Everyone who attended was encouraged to take part in our casino night, with all funds also going towards the ARFI bursary and scholarship fund.

Day two of the event started off with our AGM. Members convened to vote on a number of matters, and Ronald Tremblay was again voted in as chairman of the board. Afterwards, attendees were invited to connect with Ken Hendricks at his “Through the Decades” display. This display featured milestone moments in the ARA’s storied history and proved to be a hit with guests.

Casino night was a big success.
Saturday's Gala night

In the evening, attendees gathered for the gala night and dinner. The night kicked off with a video presentation of our award winner for the ARA Entrepreneur of the Year being awarded to Jeff Hoff of Gears Plus NAPA Autopro in Prince George. Dejla Sabanac, who runs the foundation on behalf of the ARA, had the opportunity to interview all of this year’s ARFI bursary and scholarship recipients, in which $15,000 was awarded.

Shortly after dinner, the highly anticipated pedal car auction took place, and all the pedal cars on display were auctioned off. A record amount of $35,900 was raised for ARFI. The night wrapped up with live entertainment and dancing as members reflected on a fantastic weekend of activities.

The ARA was thrilled to demonstrate to our members, vendors, and guests that they are key parts of the association’s story and history. After years of lockdowns, it was a pleasure to put on a fun-filled weekend to celebrate everyone’s achievements. We want to express our gratitude to all of our sponsors, guests, and attendees for taking the time to add such tremendous value to this event.

Stay tuned for news on our future events!