KAR Forms Digital Services Group Led by Peter Kelly

CARMEL, Ind. - 

KAR Auction Services announced Wednesday afternoon that it has formed a new Digital Services Group that will be led by Peter Kelly, currently the chief technology officer for KAR.

The company said that, among other assets from KAR’s portfolio, the Digital Services Group will combine several businesses and brands, including OPENLANE, CarsArrive Network, and Recovery Database Network.

“During the past few years, KAR has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing a unique set of online and mobile tools aimed at building a more robust marketplace for sellers and buyers of automobiles and similar assets. Grouping these companies together is the logical next step in serving our customers with an integrated solution,” said KAR chief operating officer Don Gottwald.

Kelly will remain on the board of TradeRev, a player in the Canadian dealer-to-dealer remarketing space which KAR acquired 50 percent of in August. TradeRev is launching the platform in the U.S. currently.

Additionally, Kelly will be responsible for directing an incubator for all of KAR’s digital and mobile efforts.

“I am eager to take on this new role and excited to engage more deeply with our customers in addressing their business challenges,” said Kelly, who co-founded OPENLANE in 1999. “Our end-to-end capabilities give KAR an unmatched position to leverage for the benefit of our remarketing clients.”

KAR chairman and chief executive officer Jim Hallett added: “Peter is recognized as a leading innovator throughout the automotive remarketing industry, having helped create the online vehicle auction category. No one is better positioned to lead KAR’s growing digital portfolio and ensure we integrate these tools for our customers’ benefit.”

9 Months After Tornado, A New Mid-South AA Debuts

PEARL, Miss.  - 

Almost exactly nine months after a Mississippi tornado swept through its property and delivered a mighty punch, Mid-South Auction — which is part of the XLerate Group — is reopening its auction arena and debuting updated facilities on Jan. 27, while also introducing a new general manager.

Among the new amenities to the arena are drop ceilings designed to enhance lane acoustics, as well as a new cameras and software to give dealers a better online experience, too.

“In April, a tornado hit our Mid-South Auction and did extensive damage to the auction arena,” said Cam Hitchcock, XLerate’s chief executive officer. “We took the opportunity to not only rebuild the auction but also to build a completely new and upgraded arena.  Mid-South’s new arena will provide one the nicest auction environments in the region for our dealers in the South to buy and sell cars.” 

The tornado hit the auction on April 28 — one of dozens of tornados to impact the South that day, according to The Weather Channel — and caused significant damage. Not long after, then-general manager Bob Sullivan talked with AuSM about the rebuilding efforts.

Sullivan had led the auction the past three years and spearheaded the redesign and construction of the new arena. He is now in a senior operations role with XLerate, and Mississippi native Tim Brantley has stepped into the GM role.

So, in addition to showcasing their brand new arena, the auction is also introducing Brantley to the community during the event.

“Tim Brantley was born and raised in Mississippi. Prior to joining Mid-South, Brantley spent 38 years with numerous remarketing assignments with GMAC/Ally. With his relationships in the Mississippi auto dealer community and experience on the sell side of the remarketing industry, we were honored that he chose to join XLerate as our newest general manager,” said Darris McClure, president and chief operating officer of XLerate.

“Tim has worked closely with our former GM, Bob Sullivan, who led the redesign of the new auction arena as well as managed the construction process. Bob will now move forward with XLerate in a senior corporate operations role as VP — operations and best practices,” he added. “We want to thank Bob again for leading the auction over the last three years and especially during the challenges of rebuilding Mid-South.”

Scott Allen of Rogers-Dabbs Chevrolet in Brandon, Miss., is one of the auction’s dealers. He notes: “Tim Brantley is solid gold. I’ve known him for years and worked with him in Memphis. He is a man who does what he says he will do. I know Tim will bring Mid-South Auction back to its heyday — and then build it up from there!”

Brantley added: “I have been welcomed back to my home state with open arms by Mid-South Auction staff and dealers alike. I am grateful to come into such a skilled and bonded family of employees. This auction weathered the storm and came out stronger and closer than ever.

“You’ll feel an enhanced energy in our lanes and with our sale," he went on to say. "The hard work has paid off, and we have a brand new year to show you the new Mid-South Auction!”

Black Book Goes Behind Scenes with NAAA Leaders


To wrap up another year of providing the wholesale and retail community with weekly auction price updates, Black Book editorial director Ricky Beggs offered a special two-part series.

In the end-of-year “Used Car Market Report”, Beggs sits down with National Auto Auction Association president Ellie Johnson and president-elect Mike Browning to discuss this year’s highlights as well as what’s in store for 2015.

In Part I of the Black Book interview, the two NAAA executives focused on a variety of topics, starting on a more personal note: a bit of background on the NAAA leaders.

Starting with Johnson, the almost 30-year industry veteran began her career 28 years ago at what is now known as Manheim North Carolina. The facility, formerly known as Aycock Auto Auction, was built by Johnson’s late father, Kenneth Aycock.

Johnson explained she held a variety of roles, ranging from title checker to business manager. She was named general manager in 1997.  

Browning, on the other hand, said he has “been in cars ever since I got out of school.” Starting on the retail side of the business, Browning began his career in the auction industry in 2003. Having worked at both Manheim Mississippi and Manheim New Orleans, Browning was named GM at Manheim San Antonio just this year.

Beggs also touched on recent industry events the two had attended, such as AuSM’s Used Car Week Conferences.

When asked one about one thing that caught her attention while at UCW, Johnson said,  “The majority of the attendees were the remarketers, the auction’s customers, it was how involved they were in the meetings and the programs. They are there to learn and they want to know how they can better our industry.”

When asked about industry reaction to the recent announcement that the in 2016, Browning said excitement is high.

Browning continued, “The fact that we have taken some travel days out of our schedules and brought them together and brought our customers, the remarketers and the auctions together for one good week is very well received and a lot of excitement.”

For the new year, the two leaders have a lot of auction visits planned, they said.

Johnson said they will be focusing on the New England area, such as Connecticut, and might make it up as far as Maine.

Regarding what NAAA leadership expects to gain from such visits, Browning said, “I hope to fill my tool box. Every geographic location or segment has a little bit something different, and I hope to bring a little bit of that back to not only our auction, but to the industry, and maybe some best practices."

The remainder of the interview will be posted on Monday, Jan. 5. To view Part I, see the video above.

Insurance Auto Auctions Expands Capacity in 2 States


Insurance Auto Auctions recently expanded two of its branches in Tulsa, Okla., and Des Moines, Iowa.

Officials highlighted that both locations add to IAA's capacity to service customers in key markets and demonstrate IAA’s continued commitment to providing buyers and sellers with greater convenience and access to increased inventory.

IAA's Tulsa facility is located at 5311 W 46th Street S and will now utilize 24 acres with additional expansion opportunities. There is a fully functioning auction facility that includes a 10,000-square-foot building. The company mentioned recycled asphalt was used for the top surface of the outside vehicle storage area in keeping with IAA’s environmentally responsible culture.

The Des Moines branch, located at 3277 Ute Ave. in nearby Waukee, Iowa, will now occupy 24 acres.

“IAA continues to strategically expand locations to better service our buyers and sellers,” Insurance Auto Auctions chief executive officer and president John Kett said.

“The Tulsa location opened earlier this year to support our business growth in the region,” Kett continued. “We are excited to add capacity that supports growing demand in both Oklahoma and Iowa, which are two key markets for us.”

Preview and auction times vary for each of IAA's facilities. For more information, call the IAA Tulsa branch at (918) 445-4691 and the IAA Des Moines branch at (515) 987-1700, .

ServNet Auctions Celebrate Holidays By Supporting Children in Need


As we head toward Christmas, ServNet member auctions have been busy working to help the less fortunate during this holiday season.

Pittsburgh Auto Auction, for example, raised funds for A Child’s Place at Mercy, part of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System for its volunteerism this October, culminating in a $15,000 check for the local charity.

Throughout the month of October, PAA held weekly fundraisers to raise money for the local charity who plans assessments of children who are suspected of being victims of child abuse.

The final fundraisers were held on Oct. 28th, and a few of PAA’s consignors donated vehicles to be auctioned off during the sale with the proceeds being donated directly to the charity.

The auction then matched 100 percent of all of the donations received from vendors, employees and customers throughout the month.

General manager Chris Angelicchio said, "Every child deserves to live in a safe environment free from abuse and neglect. Knowing that the donations are going to the protection and support of children makes it an easy commitment for our staff and dealers to make. The donations from our customers, vendors, and employees are for a greatly needed cause." 

Over at the Dealers Auto Auction of Oklahoma City, the auction is celebrating the holiday season by sponsoring a toy drive and holding various holiday sale events.

In a program that started Nov. 20 and ran through Monday, the auction sponsored a toy drive that targeted toward charity groups such as the YMCA Battered Women with Children's group, and the Military Kids at nearby Tinker Air Force Base.

"It's a time-honored tradition here at DAA/OKC to participate in a community outreach program during the holidays, and once again we're receiving overwhelming support from the auction community for this year's toy drive," said owner Gary Smith. "As we contemplate the benefits we receive in being part of a thriving industry, where we enjoy the support of great employees and loyal customers, we are mindful of those who are less fortunate. As often as we work with shared purpose to make every auction day throughout the year a successful one for our buyer and sellers, it's nice to refocus our efforts on the community around us, and to lend a hand to those who need some extra cheer this holiday season." 

"We're watching the toy collection grow every week at DAA/OKC as customers and employees add to gifts," Smith continued, "and we're looking forward to making deliveries to the YMCA and the Air Force Base just in time for Christmas!" 

The auction will also hold two special holiday sales prior to Christmas.

On Thursday, the auction will hold its Christmas Party sale, treating all customers to a free lunch, and celebrating with prize giveaways at the conclusion of the sale.

Next week, the auction will hold its last consignment sale before Christmas on Tuesday (Dec. 23) and will close to celebrate the holiday on Dec. 25 and Dec. 26. 

"We have enjoyed a great year at DAA/OKC and thank all our customers for their ongoing loyalty and support," said Smith. "We wish the merriest Christmas to the friends we see here every week throughout the year, and look forward to a great year in lanes in 2015."

Manheim Holiday Sales on Horizon


Manheim Pennsylvania announced that it will have more than $30,000 in prizes slated for three of its year-end sales. Scheduled for its Dec. 18, Dec. 19 and Jan. 2 sales, the auction will host the following themes on each of the dates, respectively:

  • Naughty and Nice Mega Sale: For Mercedes-Benz dealers, Dec. 18; this closed sale begins at 9 a.m. with more than 600 vehicles expected.
  • Very Merry Manheim Sale: A holiday theme for its regularly scheduled Friday auction on Dec. 19, also begins at 9 a.m.
  • Manheim Bowl: A sports theme for the auction’s Friday event on Jan. 2; customers will have a shot at a trip for two to Super Bowl XLIX. The lobby will be transformed into a sports bar with the total amount of prizes eclipsing $25,000.

Note to auction customers: since Christmas falls on a Friday, Manheim Pennsylvania’s regular sale for next week will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 23.

As an update on Manheim locations participating in Movember events, Manheim’s parent company, Cox Enterprises, reported this week that it has donated more than $1.7 million to the to support men’s health programs.

The Cox Movember Network, consisting of over 1,600 employees, vendors, partners and friends, raised $885,000 that was matched by the James M. Cox Foundation, making Cox Enterprises Movember’s Top Global Network and the largest global corporate contributor to Movember’s 2014 campaign.

“Our chairman Jim Kennedy was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year,” said John Dyer, Cox Enterprises’ president. “While Jim’s prognosis is good, it brings to light the need for education and funds to support men’s health. Jim and his family have always demonstrated immense passion for Cox and its employees and it’s in the same spirit that we launched Movember at Cox.”

Jamie Kennedy, Jim’s son, started the company’s involvement, surpassing the initial fundraising goal of $250,000 during the first few days of the campaign. Employees and company partners rallied behind the cause, growing mustaches and spreading the word about men’s health issues.

“If we can prevent just one person from having to go through what I have experienced, through awareness or medical treatment, I knew the Movember campaign would be worth it,” said Jim Kennedy. “I have never seen a better example of the uniqueness of the Cox corporate culture than the way everyone rallied around the Movember campaign. I have been deeply touched by their outpouring of encouragement and support.”

NAAA's Latest Look at Auction Volume Trending


Auction volume in November was up more than 6 percent against comparable weeks of 2013, pushing year-to-date growth to 4.4 percent. 

These statistics are part of the National Auto Auction Association’s latest Economic Dashboard, which is prepared by NAAA economist Ira Silver.

Another November indicator cited in the report is used-car sales. These were up modestly in November (0.5 percent), the report said, citing CNW Research. Through 11 months, used sales are down modestly (0.1 percent) from the year-ago time frame.

Elsewhere, new-car sales climbed 5.5 percent in November and have improved 5.4 percent through 11 months.

The growth in auction volume during November and year-to-date reflects much of what was noted in NAAA’s most recent Economy and Auction Industry Report, which recapped auction activity through three quarters.

“Auction volume growth in 2014 has been around 4 percent all year as strong commercial consignment has offset a slowdown in dealer consignment growth,” NAAA's Ira Silver said in the report. “We expect that auction volume will be up by 4 percent to 5 percent this year for the third annual increase in a row.”

And based on NAAA’s forecast, the annual gains may not stop at three.

The trend lines in the new-car market in recent years are likely to show separate and positive impacts in both dealer and commercial consignment down the road, NAAA said.

“Going forward we anticipate that increasing new-car sales and trade-ins will drive growth in dealer consignment up somewhat from recent levels,” Silver said. |

“Past growth in new-vehicles sales into leasing and fleets will support good gains in commercial consignment for the next couple of years as those vehicles make their way into the auction lanes,” he added. 

DAASW Debuts Buy Now 360


Dealers Auto Auction of the Southwest has launched a new auction program to complement its 360 Customer Service, Mexico Ready and Transparent Transactions Programs in conjunction with Carfax.

With Buy Now 360, DAASW is now selling units in between sales.

In other words, the tool was previously only available while sales were actually running, and now dealers can have access to additional inventory 24-7 through Buy Now 360.

“Buy Now 360 is an independent auction's answer to other static websites, that does not require dealers to drill down to find older units, but services a local market need with 24-7 access to those units,” said Jim DesRochers, the auction’s vice president.

“We wanted our local dealers and our huge Hispanic market,” DesRochers said, “to be able through our two sites to have access to our no sales, inventory and remote dealer units in between physical sales and we created a simple system with complete transactional disclosure including dealer unit CR’s.”

General manager Stephanie Gingras added: “Buy Now 360 utilizes the same fee structure that dealers use in the lanes so there is no confusion, as our process is to make our site user-friendly and supported by their local technologically enhanced brick-and-mortar auction.”

Barnard Seeks Business Opportunity When Solving Operational Challenges


When you talk with Janet Barnard, the newly named president of Manheim North America, it’s clear that customer back, particularly as it relates to technology and innovation that improves the business process, is of great importance.

And in a conversation with AuSM this fall, she also described how Manheim’s teamwork with fellow Cox Automotive companies has helped facilitate that approach from an operations standpoint. Not only that, it has helped Manheim find opportunities when tackling operational challengs.

Barnard — who was named president of Manheim North America on Thursday after serving several years as executive vice president and chief operating officer — talked with AuSM at the National Auto Auction Association Convention earlier this year in Boston.

One example of the cross-division teamwork was a she pointed to was the Enhanced Vehicle Imaging Suite from Manheim, which has continued to show growth.

“We got that out the door as quickly as we did because we partnered with HomeNet, which is a Cox Automotive company,” Barnard said. “They provided all the technology and hardware so that we could get that out to the market more quickly rather than having to start from scratch. And we’re finding a number of ways to partner with them on the vehicle merchandising front, because that’s their business. That’s what their good at.”

Barnard would go on to discuss more Manheim’s work with NextGear Capital, and what Barnard called its “pretty robust centralized title management system.”

Manheim has partnered with NextGear “to, basically, build on to their existing system to be able to scale and provide centralized title management for the customers that want that. And, frankly, that doesn’t have to be limited to just the cars they buy and sell at auction. Once this is in place, we could manage any given company’s entire title business if they wanted us to do that." 

She added: “In many of these examples, we’re solving some operational challenges that we have anyway and as we do that, we’re thinking about how that can become a product for our customer. So, we sort of test it out internally first to say, ‘Is this easier, faster? Does the transaction happen more quickly? Can we do more transactions?’ And if it works, we can literally turn the screen around, show it to a customer, and say, ‘Here’s maybe a self-service tool for you, that’s going to add value to your business.’”

That’s the mindset Barnard says Manheim has put toward operational challenges: If you’re going to invest to solve the problem, anyway, see if there’s an opportunity to grow or improve your business.

“So, not just time- and expense-savings," she said, "but also revenue generating.” 

Manheim, DriveTime Form Remarketing Partnership


Manheim officially announced today a selective partnership with the DriveTime Automotive Group that will make the auction company the exclusive remarketer for DriveTime’s inventory.

Susie Heins, vice president, major dealers at Manheim, took the time to speak with AuSM to outline her company’s excitement for the new arrangement.

“DriveTime, which is the largest subprime dealer in the United States, has selected Manheim as their exclusive remarketing partner,” Heins said. “What that means is all the inventory that DriveTime sells in the marketplace, wholesale, will now come either to a Manheim facility or to one of our auction companies named Go Auto Exchange, as well. It brings it to close to 30 locations between the two companies that they will be sending all of their inventory.”

In addition to Manheim locations all over the country, Go Auto Exchange features locations in key areas such as Atlanta, Phoenix, Houston and Orlando.

“The biggest benefit for DriveTime, obviously, is that they’ve got multiple places to drive inventory, at multiple marketplaces, as well as to multiple types of buyers,” Heins said. “But they’re also able to offer financing and take advantage of all the wholesale expertise that Manheim is able to bring to them.”

Heins hopes the evolution of their relationship will allow the two companies to simplify and strengthen each other’s business goals.

“We’re really, really excited,” Heins said. “They’ve been terrific to work with over the years, and this is just one more confidence in Manheim in being able to select us, and it really enables them to drive and sell inventory at multiple locations. But it also frees both of us up to really look at other projects we want to work on that’s going to further their business, as well. They’ve been great to work with — Ray Fidel (president and chief executive officer of DriveTime) and his team is awesome.”