Big Wheel, Turning
Guttman from the start ran the fledgling Nationwide buying group—first on a part-time basis, then quickly moving to full-time. The group wanted to target the larger dealers in each metropolitan market, so each original member began recruiting dealers in specific sections of the country, and the group's membership grew to 38 larger members.
Kelly was assigned to recruit members in the southeastern U.S. But in the early 1970s, he says, "You didn't find many $50 million to $100 million (annual revenue) dealers. You didn't find many $40 million dealers; it didn't exist…It was very clear to us that we had to form another organization that serviced dealers in the next layer down."
In 1974, Kelly and his brother-in-law and business partner Robert Weisner formed another group, the Select Businessman's Association (SEBA), for dealers generating between $5 and $30 million annually. They bought a second membership in Nationwide for SEBA, which was then a regional group. "From there we took off," Kelly says.