AuSM founder Ron Smith to retire Jan. 1

Ron Smith, founder of AuSM and the 2017 AuSM Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Smith is retiring Jan. 1. Photo by Jonathan Fredin.
CARY, N.C. - 

Ron Smith, the founder of AuSM and its parent company, S&A Cherokee, has announced his retirement, which will be effective on Jan. 1.

Smith, who will remain a part-owner of S&A Cherokee in retirement, has gradually delegated day-to-day operational duties to fellow owners/principals Bill Zadeits and Chuck Norman over the past year.

“Ron is an incredible businessman, mentor, boss and partner, and an even better husband and father,” said Zadeits, who is the publisher of AuSM. “We hope to continue his legacy of providing excellent service and communications with the highest ethical standards to our clients and constituents.”

“I can’t say enough about what Ron has done for me professionally and personally,” said Norman. “It’s truly been an honor working with him, and after decades of hard work and sacrifice, he’s earned a rewarding retirement. We know he’s just a phone call or email away, but everyone on our staff wishes him their best.”

Smith will remain part of the S&A Cherokee management team, which includes Norman, Smith, Zadeits, Amanda Dunlap and Michael Colborn.

Smith founded public relations firm Smith and Associates in 1982, before starting Cherokee Publishing Company eight years later.  The activities of the PR firm and publishing company were then established as one business entity, as the company was rebranded S&A Cherokee in 2005.

The company now includes two divisions: S&A Communications, a PR and marketing firm; and AuSM, a publishing company that produces such publications as AuSM, SubPrime Auto Finance News, BHPH Report and AuSM Canada.

CMG also produces digital publications and organizes/operates automotive trade conferences, including Used Car Week.  

Lifetime achievement award

It was at this year’s Used Car Week conference where Smith was the recipient of the AuSM Lifetime Achievement Award.

AuSM correspondent Arlena Sawyers was on hand for the award presentation, and provided this recap below:

But before becoming a publisher and an entrepreneur, Smith was a journalist. He started the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association’s Used Car Dealer Magazine while working for the association.

After NIADA took the publication in-house in 1990 Smith shunned naysayers who said the industry didn’t need a publication dedicated to the used-car business. AuSM was born.

Smith recognized that the used-car industry was growing and evolving and he wanted to be a part of it.

“The manufacturers, the auction association, the independent dealers, the franchise dealers, all of those people,” have all been instrumental in that growth, Smith said. “We’ve been fortunate to see it grow dramatically.”

Smith said his staff is “outstanding” and that support of his wife Donna, helped his dreams become reality.

The AuSM Lifetime Achievement Award has been renamed the Ron Smith Lifetime Achievement Award.

Smith on AuSM Podcast 

Prior to Used Car Week, we recorded an intervew with Smith for the AuSM Podcast. 

Check out our conversation, recorded earlier this fall, below.

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