Celebrating 37 Years of Excellence: Cizek’s CATA Legacy

Retiring after a 37-year tenure with the group, Jerry H. Cizek III has served as president of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) and Chicago Auto Show general manager since 1988. As one of only six general managers in the 109-year history of the Chicago Auto Show, Jerry has been a driving force behind the show’s growth and success, and has left an indelible mark of excellence on the association of new-car dealers in Chicagoland.

Even before he could drive, Jerry chased parts in the service department of his grandfather's Chrysler dealership. After graduating from Bradley University's business school, he returned to dealership work until he was offered a field representative position with the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. Jerry's job at the time was to visit dealers in the area, getting in face time and answering questions, usually with his catchphrase “I don’t know, but I know where to find out.”

Jerry’s achievement as the CATA President and Auto Show general manager is apparent in the way the show has progressed over the years. Since his installment in 1988, the operation has grown by leaps and bounds. In fact, much of the show's great reputation with consumers and exhibitors alike is linked to his philosophy of, "making the show the best product possible in the best venue anywhere."

Under Jerry’s guidance, the show moved from what is now known as the Lakeside Center (East Building) to the new 840,000 sq. ft. South Building in 1997. Then in 2005, the show boldly added the North Building, as well. When manufacturer budgets were especially tight in 2009, Chicago pioneered the shared media stage arrangement, making news events more affordable for automakers.

Concurrent with the successes of the auto show, the CATA grew more active than ever as an advocate and year-round asset for its members. Cizek was instrumental in the formation of the Secretary of State’s Advisory Board and a similar group convened to address dealer and consumer issues such as advertising regulations with the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

The association moved to its new Oakbrook Terrace headquarters in 1997, giving the group its first permanent home. The building provides ample room for members, manufacturers and media associations to hold seminars, training sessions and meetings year-round.

Editor’s note: We extend our thanks and congratulations to Jerry for his three-and-a-half decades of service and leadership. We wish him all the best as he retires, and hope to see him at the Chicago Auto Show for many years to come. 

About the Chicago Auto Show: Sanctioned by International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA), the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America and has been held more times than any other auto exposition on the continent. First staged in 1901, 2010 will mark the 102nd edition of the show. The Chicago Auto Show will open to the public Feb. 12-21. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Feb. 12-20) and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Feb. 21). For additional information visit: www.ChicagoAutoShow.com 

About the Chicago Automobile Trade Association: Founded in 1904, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) is the nation’s oldest and largest metropolitan dealer organization. The CATA is comprised of more than 400 franchised new-car dealers and allied members. Dealer members employ over 20,000 people in the metropolitan area. For additional information visit: www.cata.info 

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CONTACT:
Paul Brian
Director of Communications
Chicago Automobile Trade Association
630-424-6069 Direct
630-495-2282 Main
paulbrian@drivechicago.com Email

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