Q&A with William Childress

Q&A with William Childress

Q&A with William Childress, Executive director of the Virginia Motor Vehicle Dealer Board and president of the National Association for Motor Vehicle Boards and Commissions

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How long did you work for the Virginia DMV?

Since July of 2001. I was initially in the motor carrier division, responsible for the liquidated damages program. Then about 2003, the hauling permit program—which is oversized, overweight vehicles—left the Department of Transportation and came to the DMV, and I had responsibility for that as well. I became the director of vehicle services starting in 2008. In vehicle services, I was responsible for the title and registration, insurance services, plate development, online vehicles, dealer services and things like that.

You are currently the executive director of the Virginia Motor Vehicle Dealer Board and president of the National Association for Motor Vehicle Boards and Commissions. How did you transition from your DMV roles to these?

It was a huge change. In the DMV world, when you’re dealing with all the different areas I mentioned in my role as director of vehicle services, I had a variety of different functions. So it was very busy and chaotic in different areas every day. It was kind of fun, too, because when you solve problems and take care of issues, you get a quick sense of gratification and satisfaction, and they moved on to the next buyer. [The executive director] position is more focused in one area. It’s not as fast paced as the DMV, but it is every bit as challenging and involved.

The dealer board’s primary function is to license and oversee the operations of licensed dealerships. In Virginia, that means cars and trucks, motorcycles, RVs and trailers, both new and used. I oversee all those, which is about 4,000 dealerships in Virginia. When I applied for the position, I believe my DMV background was seen as a natural fit and a benefit to the board in the sense of any DMV-related issues. I had contacts. I knew people who wanted to resolve those issues.

I served as the vice president [of National Association for Motor Vehicle Boards and Commissions] for three years, and the move to president was a natural migration based off of my three years of experience as vice president.

Which position takes most of your attention?

The dealer board is a daily thing. The commission position takes a lot of time planning for our annual conference and our annual workshop. Every state has its own rules and regulations and laws when it comes to licensing, and what each jurisdiction does. When we have our annual conference, we come together as part of our work duty in our spare time to make that happen. It’s mostly a volunteer effort.

What are some of the shared goals between the DMV and the dealer board?

The biggest goal we have in common is the satisfaction and taking care of consumers. One of the biggest issues I deal with here on a daily basis is consumers who feel that a dealership overcharges or the vehicles are overpriced, or something they bought is not working the way it should work. It’s frustrating for them and frustrating for me to hear their experiences. Some situations that they experience are not necessarily their fault. But they may have had red flags during the transaction and chose to move forward anyway. You have some dealers out there, unfortunately, who are just trying to make a deal, taking shortcuts, doing harm to consumers and also harming the business as a whole.

What are some of the highlights of your volunteer work as president of National Association for Motor Vehicle Boards and Commissions?

One of the things that I’m proud of is that we seem to be growing. Coming out of COVID, we are attracting more people to our conferences each year. At the end of the conference, they’re saying that the agenda was good and that the topics that we were talking about have been informative and the contacts they’re making have been helpful as well.

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