ACERTUS named 1 of St. Louis top 150 workplaces


ACERTUS, formerly known as MetroGistics, has been named one of the  by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

To determine its list of winners, ACERTUS said that the newspaper surveyed a total of 44,000 people.

In addition to exuding effective leadership, strong values and clear direction, ACERTUS was recognized for its employee amenities such as a full-service gym and game room, collaboration areas, and Giving Back program, in which a different employee every month selects a local charity to receive a check from the company.

ACERTUS is also committed to employee health and safety, and has implemented the ACERTUS Saver program that trains employees in CPR and first aid to assist with medical incidents and emergencies.

“From day one we set out to hire the best people we could and provide them with the best environment to excel at their jobs,” MetroGistics’ co-founder and chief executive officer of ACERTUS William Billiter said in a news release. “We are very honored to be named a Top Workplace in St. Louis and will continue to look for ways to engage and inspire our employees.”

ACERTUS was first founded as MetroGistics in 2010. Along with its headquarters in St. Louis, ACERTUS also runs facilities in Alpharetta, Ga., and Lenexa, Kan.

NAAA names Manheim Darlington Southern chapter of the year


On the heels of naming the Kansas City Independent Auto Auction its Western Chapter Auto Auction of the Year on Monday, the National Auto Auction Association continueed National Auto Auction Week celebrations on Tuesday, announcing that this year’s Southern chapter winner is Manheim Darlington.

Along with its fundraising success and volunteer efforts, the association said that Manheim Darlington was also chosen for the steps that the auction's staff takes to serve its local South Carolina community each month.

“I am honored to make this announcement as part of National Auto Auction Week that Manheim Darlington is our selection for NAAA’s Auto Auction of the Year,” NAAA Southern chapter president Jerry Barker said in a news release.

“Our panel of five judges was excited by the community involvement of our nominees and amazed by the money raised for so many wonderful charities, but it was obvious that as general manager Danny Brawn says, Manheim Darlington is an auction in Small Town USA with employees who have big hearts. Congratulations to them and to all the auctions that support their communities — keep up the good work.”

Manheim Darlington is one of four finalists — joined by NAAA’s Eastern, Midwest and Western chapters — who are in the running for the top NAAA honor the “Auto Auction of the Year Award for Excellence in Community Service.”

This year, NAAA said that Manheim Darlington has gone beyond just hosting the regular blood drives it holds throughout the year.  According to NAAA, the auction has already collected over 20 pints of blood and raised $10,000 for the American Red Cross as part of its Diamond Jubilee Anniversary Sale.

On top of that, Manheim Darlington has also hosted monthly lunches for teachers, a school supply drive and a “Drive Away for Hunger” fundraiser that raised more than $2,500 and 89 pounds of food.

According to NAAA, Manheim Darlington employees who are on a committee come together each month to plan fundraising activities and initiatives that support local charities and schools.

In addition to being presented with a crystal trophy at NAAA’s annual convention in November,  the auction will be featured in NAAA’s member publications, receive a $5,000 prize and an additional $20,000 payable to a charity of the auction’s choice.

The annual convention is held in partnership with the  — part of , which is scheduled for Nov. 12-16 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.

NAAA announces its Western chapter auto auction of the year


In recognition of outstanding public service, the Kansas City Independent Auto Auction (KCIAA) has been named the National Auto Auction Association’s Western Chapter Auto Auction of the Year.

The auction was chosen for its fundraising and volunteer efforts to assist disadvantaged children and their families, the NAAA announced Monday. KCIAA was also a finalist in 2016, when NAAA first established the annual awards to recognize the charitable contributions auctions make throughout each year.

“As we celebrate National Auto Auction Week it’s my privilege to announce Kansas City Independent Auto Auction is our nominee for Auction of the Year,” NAAA Western chapter president Tim Bowers said in a news release. “While there were many strong candidates in the Western Chapter committed to inspirational charitable giving, KCIAA rose to the top with the depth of its support for a diversity of organizations that all serve disadvantaged children and their families. We congratulate KCI, its staff and customers for their commitment to community service.”

KCIAA is one of four finalists among NAAA’s Eastern, Midwest, Southern and Western chapters who are in the running for the top NAAA honor, the “Auto Auction of the Year Award for Excellence in Community Service.”

According to NAAA, the auction has raised over $1 million in donations in six years to help support four nearby nonprofits where the auction’s employees have volunteered their time.

The auction has supported Camp Quality Greater Kansas City; Jackson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for abused, neglected children); Family Promise of the Northland and Sheffield Place.

In addition to being featured in NAAA’s member publications, KCIAA will receive $5,000 and an additional $20, 000 payable to a charity of the auction’s choice and be presented with a crystal trophy at NAAA’s annual convention in November.

The annual convention is held in partnership with the — part of , which is scheduled for Nov. 12-16 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Ally and NAMAD honor rising dealer with inaugural Ally Sees Her Award


Karmala Sutton discovered personal and professional inspiration at an early age; a foundation that's propelled her to wide-ranging successes inside and outside the dealership.

On Thursday, Ally Financial and the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD) honored Sutton, the dealer in training at Honda of Kenosha in Bristol, Wisc., with the first-ever Ally Sees Her Award during NAMAD’s 2018 Annual Membership Meeting in Chicago.

Officials highlighted Sutton received the award in recognition of her success as an auto retail leader, her dedication to giving back and her commitment to building the next-generation of minority dealers, who are underrepresented across the country.

“I’m humbled to be recognized for doing things that I'm passionate about,” Sutton said upon learning of the award. “I’m committed to the auto industry and look forward to working with NAMAD to help my peers succeed. Without giving back to improve the lives of others and make the communities where we live and work better, success is hollow.”

Inspired by the Association of National Advertisers #SeeHer campaign to elevate women in media and marketing, Ally created the award to recognize promising, young women leaders in the auto retail industry. 

As part of the award, Ally will make a $10,000 donation to the charity of Sutton's choice: CRU Agape Center, a Chicago based non-profit that works with local churches and community centers. Sutton has earmarked the funds to help the homeless and children in communities troubled by violence.

“Being from the Chicago area and having the NAMAD meeting here in Chicago this year, it made sense to have the donation make a difference here in the city, especially in the communities that need it most,” Sutton said.

Her dedication to giving back to the community can be traced back to values instilled in her by her church and a high school mission trip to Ghana with Opportunity International, a micro finance not-for-profit that helps economic development in poor areas throughout the world. During her college years, she became involved with Locks of Love, giving her time and even her own hair to the non-profit.

Through her dealership, Sutton has led efforts to benefit Toys for Tots. She also has volunteered on NAMAD NextGen’s executive board for four years, serving as president for the last two years. NextGen helps prepare aspiring auto dealers to succeed in the industry.

Sutton has been an influential voice in NAMAD’s efforts to mobilize the sons and daughters of our current dealers and also shed a bright light on our current up and coming minority managers who will be our future dealers, according to NAMAD president Damon Lester.

“Her commitment to helping her peers become strong dealers who carry our industry into a bright future is an inspiration,” Lester said.

Sutton began her automotive career as a co-chair of the Northwood University Auto Show of the Palm Beaches while attending college. She graduated from Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Fla., in 2010 with a bachelor’s in business administration and an associate degree in hospitality management.

After graduation, Sutton worked as a buyer for CarMax, where she honed her skills and found a love for the automotive retail industry. She then went to work at her family’s Honda of Kenosha dealership as the pre-owned manager. As the dealer in training, Sutton works beside her father, Nathaniel Sutton, owner of Sutton Auto Team, to understand the business. Sutton Auto Team has two additional dealerships in suburban Chicago.

“We’re excited to honor Karmala with the inaugural Ally Sees Her Award. She embodies the hard work, determination and leadership potential that this award was designed to recognize and we look forward to all she will accomplish in the years to come,” said Jacqueline Howard, senior director of corporate citizenship at Ally. “Her enthusiasm for giving back also makes her a beacon of caring in the community, which is fundamental to being a strong dealer.”

Howard added, “At Ally, our motto is ‘Do It Right,’ which means supporting dealers who are often the backbone of their communities and are helping move the industry forward. It also means promoting diversity and women in leadership. The more young women and girls see leaders like Karmala, the more they are empowered to rise to become leaders themselves.”

In addition to supporting Sutton's chosen charity, Ally will make an additional $5,000 available to charities selected by NAMAD members.

During the annual conference, Ally will give $100 gift cards to 50 NAMAD members, who can use the cards to make donations to the charities of their choice.

NIADA awards Auto Data Direct founder highest non-dealer honor


Auto Data Direct founder and president Jim Taylor recently received the highest National Independent Automobile Dealers Association award for non-dealers at the 72nd annual NIADA Convention and Expo in Orlando, Fla.

Taylor is the newest and 30th auto industry leader to be inducted into NIADA’s Ring of Honor, the association announced Wednesday.

Taylor was honored during the convention’s National Leadership Awards Banquet in recognition of being an allied industry leader who has helped to advance the professionalism and growth of the automobile industry.

“As an entrepreneur at heart, Jim has a passion for public-private business ventures that bring a common-sense small business approach to complex bureaucratic processes,” NIADA chief executive officer Steve Jordan said in a news release. “His positive relationship with both government and industry leaders has bridged that gap seamlessly and provided dealers with faster, more accurate access to information and services.”

In 1999, when Taylor founded Auto Data Direct he wanted to give Florida dealers access to the state’s motor vehicle database in real-time, according to NIADA.

About 10 years later, NIADA said the company became the first U.S. Department of Justice-approved provider of consumer and corporate access to the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System database in 2009.

Auto Data Direct currently has contracts with 35 states to provide real-time motor vehicle information, according to the association.

“Dealers are not just our customers,” said Taylor when accepting his award, according to the new release. “Dealers have truly been our partners. We might have an idea to build something and put it out in the industry, but it’s been the input — sometimes the criticism — and the suggestions and ideas our customers give us that help us improve that product.

“We could not provide a good product for the industry without our customer-partners. I can’t thank them enough for all the confidence and business they’ve given us over the years,” he continued.

Additionally, the special banquet also honored recipients of NIADA scholarships and winners of the Crystal Eagle award, such as Chelsea Mallams of Livonia, Mich., and four students from each of the association’s four regions.

Mallams was recognized at the banquet for winning the $10,000 NIADA/Cox Automotive Scholarship to Northwood University and 13 NIADA members were presented with the Crystal Eagle award in recognition of bringing in new members.

Top Ohio dealer places winning $26K- bid at ADESA charity sale


Not only did the Haus Auto Group owner from Canfield, Ohio place the winning bid for charity on a 2018 Honda Accord at the 72nd Annual NIADA Convention and Expo, Chris Haus was also honored as Ohio's State Quality Dealer award winner last week.

While Haus was one of 13 nominees in the running for NIADA's highest dealer honor, during a ceremony at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, Randy Crump, president of Friendly Auto Sales in Jasper, Ala., was named the 2018 National Quality Dealer of the Year last week.

At the charity sale hosted by ADESA on the final day of the convention, NIADA announced that Haus bid $26,500 to take home a silver a 2018 Honda Accord with just 1,188 miles on the odometer.

According to the company, all proceeds from the sale went to the NIADA Foundation. The foundation coordinates charitable giving and provides scholarships to college-bound students across the country for NIADA.

In just six years, charity auctions sponsored by ADESA and other KAR business units at the NIADA Convention and Expo have raised a total of $151,700 for the NIADA Foundation.

Last year, Michigan dealer Jeff Baker bid $28,000 for charity to take home a 2016 Nissan Frontier SV pickup.

“You don't get to buy cars for charity often,” Haus said. “So, when it happens, it's the right thing to do.”

Haus’ dealership works with charities such as Special Olympics and the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation, according to the NIADA.

“For us, it's good to be part of this charitable cause,” he said. “It really ties in with what we do day-to-day.”

Dealers from Alabama and Maryland claim top NIADA honors

ORLANDO, Fla. - 

Independent dealers from Alabama and Maryland received two of the top national honors handed out by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association.

During NIADA’s 72nd annual Convention and Expo in Orlando, Fla., Randy Crump, president of Friendly Auto Sales in Jasper, Ala., was named the 2018 National Quality Dealer of the Year.

Krietz Auto, a family business that has quickly grown into one of the strongest operations in the NIADA Certified Pre-Owned program, has been named NIADA CPO Dealer of the Year.

The accolades were all part of the event that drew the most attendees in the history of the conference.

In a ceremony webcast live from the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort on NIADA.TV, Crump was chosen from the 13 State Quality Dealers nominated for highest honor given among NIADA’s dealer members. He is the seventh NQD from Alabama, tying Texas for the most from any state.

 NIADA National Quality Dealer candidates are judged on a variety of factors, including contributions to the automotive industry, the association and community involvement.

 This year’s winner was chosen by a selection committee comprised of some of the most distinguished names in the used-vehicle industry. The committee included:

— AFC chief operating officer Joe Keadle
— NextGear Capital senior vice president of operations Randy Dohse
— NADA senior vice president and chief operating officer Mike Stanton
— Black Book vice president and North American auction director Tim West
— ADESA president John Hammer
— NIADA Region IV vice president and 2013 National Quality Dealer Joe McCloskey of McCloskey Motors
— Elgie Bright, chairman of the Automotive Marketing Department at Northwood University

In accepting the award, Crump credited his father, John, whom he calls “Wolf,” for much of his success.

“I’m a second-generation car dealer,” Randy Crump said, “and he’s given me the knowledge, the opportunity and the work ethic that’s required in today’s business. I can’t thank you enough, Wolf.”

Crump, 52, is a true auto industry lifer, having begun his career at age 7, sweeping floors and keeping the store clean for 25 cents an hour at his father’s dealership, John Crump Toyota.

 He wound up working in the dealership’s service department until high school, detailing cars and doing oil changes, and eventually served in every one of the operation’s departments through his high school’s co-op program. At 16, he sold his first vehicle, a 1981 Toyota Tercel.

 After earning a degree in business management from Northwood University in 1990, Crump again went to work for his father as used-car manager of a Mazda store, igniting a passion for the used-vehicle business.

 That passion helped fuel his decision to go out on his own. In 1999, he opened Friendly Auto Sales, a buy-here, pay-here operation that consisted of three people — Crump, a secretary and a car washer.

 “I did all the buying and selling myself,” he recalled.

That’s no longer the case. In 2006, he was able to add a collector and a salesman. In 2008, he replaced his original building with a new facility that included a detail shop, which was later joined by a repair shop.

These days, Friendly Auto Sales has a staff of seven, including two certified technicians, a one-acre lot, average annual sales of more than $2.2 million and a town filled with loyal customers, many of whom said the staff treats them “like family.”

Crump said that family atmosphere fits his hometown of Jasper, population 14,000.

“I like being from a small town,” he said. “To me, the best thing about this community is the mom and pop-type businesses that are established here.”

As the owner of one of those businesses, Crump is deeply embedded in his community through involvement in his church and organizations like the local Boy Scout council and the Salvation Army, working with area schools on various initiatives, including a job-shadowing program, volunteer work and charitable efforts such as providing rooms for the Homeless Coalition, donating vehicles to charitable organizations and contributing to help a junior high school build a baseball field.

“I simply feel it is extremely important to give back to the community,” Crump said. “When I was in middle school, one of my reading assignments was The Diary of Anne Frank. Something she said in her diary has always stuck with me: ‘No one has ever become poor from giving.’

 “I have tried to emulate that philosophy and make it one of my guiding principles to live by.”

 In keeping with that philosophy, NextGear Capital donated an emergency response vehicle in Crump’s name to his local chapter of the American Red Cross.

This will be the sixth emergency vehicle donated to the American Red Cross through Cox Automotive. Since 2015, the company has donated more than $750,000 to the American Red Cross to support disaster relief. The vehicle will be transported to the winner’s dealership and officially donated to the local American Red Cross chapter.

“Randy and his dealership exemplify what it means to be a committed community partner and their values align with those of Cox Automotive,” Dohse said. “We recognize the dedication and support they provide within their community and hope to bolster their efforts with the donation of this important, live-saving tool to the American Red Cross.”

Each year, the American Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters around the country— from home fires and tornadoes to severe winter weather, hurricanes and floods. Members of the Disaster Responder Program, like Cox Automotive, invest in disaster relief readiness to ensure supplies, shelters and emergency vehicles are ready to respond when disaster strikes.

Crump is a member of the Alabama IADA board of directors, as well as a member of an NIADA Dealer 20 Group.

Krietz Auto named NIADA CPO Dealer of the Year

Krietz Auto, a dealership in Frederick, Md., run by Charlie and Kim Krietz and their sons, Charles and Cory, became the second winner in the award’s three-year history after Todd Hoagey of Auction Direct USA claimed the first two honors.

The award recognizes the quality of dealership operations, the vehicle certification process, the number of CPO vehicles sold and the dealer’s commitment to providing a better product and level of service to his customers and the community.

In accepting the award, Charlie Krietz, who founded Krietz Auto as an auto repair shop 35 years ago, choked up with emotion as he recalled his journey to success.

“The dream I had, the vision, going through the recession and the hardships we went through with the family ... to be here today, among a lot of great people, is incredible,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of help. ... but our hunger and desire to survive, the passion – it was there.”

When he had to pause to compose himself, Krietz apologized. “I’m a little passionate,” he explained.

While Krietz Auto has been in business 35 years and was Maryland’s nominee for the 2017 National Quality Dealer award, it was only a year and a half ago that Charles Krietz met with Mike Sims of NIADA CPO administrator Warrantech to discuss getting involved in the program.

“I got with my family and said, ‘I met a really good guy today, and I think this is going to be a really good thing for us,’" Charles Kreitz recalled. “Fast forward a year, and we’re standing here getting this award.”

Now Krietz Auto is among the top operations in NIADA CPO sales, at about 180 CPO units per month. The Krietzes certify 100 percent of their qualifying vehicle inventory and have made major investments in training their 50-member staff in CPO sales, marketing, digital merchandising and reward/recognition incentive programs.

As a result, the dealership has doubled its F&I gross margin per unit since launching CPO program.

Krietz Auto is also very involved in its community as a major contributor to local organizations and programs such as 4H scholarships, Toys for Tots and youth sports teams.

Charles Krietz invited his fellow independent dealers to get in on the CPO action.

“Hopefully, all you guys can learn all about the program,” he said. “It’s a really great program. Look into it — you’re not going to go wrong.”

Donlen named one of Chicago's 'Best, Brightest' companies fourth year in a row


For the fourth consecutive year, Donlen has been named one of Chicago's Best and Brightest Companies to Work For by the National Association for Business Resources (NABR), the company announced Tuesday.

In addition to Donlen, NABR also recognized automotive fleet leasing and management company Wheels this year.

Donlen, Wheels and other winning companies will be recognized in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., next month on July 27 during a symposium and awards celebration at the Drury Lane Conference Center. 

“It is no surprise that the survey results show that Donlen employees value the many education and development opportunities available to them,” Donlen president Tom Callahan said in a news release. “Donlen is dedicated to providing all our employees the opportunity to grow and develop in a positive and productive work environment.

“We recognize that when our employees are fully engaged and satisfied, the service they provide to our customers is unmatched,” Callahan continued.

Winners named 2018 Chicago's Best and Brightest Companies to Work For were chosen by an independent research firm that judges each company in several different areas such as compensation, benefits and employee solutions; employee enrichment, engagement and retention; employee education and development; recruitment, selection and orientation; and employee achievement and recognition.

“Profitability and stability is essential for businesses in today’s economic climate,” said Jennifer Kluge, president and chief executive officer of Best and Brightest programs. “We are proud to honor this year’s winners.”

“Companies that recognize that their employees are the key to their success achieve staying power. Our 2018 winners create their human resource standards to ensure employee satisfaction, and they set standards for every business to aspire toward.” 

ARI honors 5 auctions, including a first-time winner


ARI recently honored five of its best-performing auction partners based on scorecard metrics such as days to sell, days to write a condition report, days to fund and days to pick up.

ARI added that the company changed its scorecard format by sending to auctions monthly and added a new metric for days to remove company logos and branding.

The auctions collecting honors included:

— Region 1 Northeast: Mountain State Auto Auction, a third-time winner

— Region 2 Upper Midwest: Missouri Auto Auction, a seven-time winner

— Region 3 Southeast: Dealers Auto Auction of Chattanooga, a first-time winner

— Region 4 Southwest: Houston Auto Auction, a third-time winner

— Region 5 West: ADESA Northwest, an 11-time winner                        

Partha Ghosh, director of vehicle supply chain and remarketing for ARI said, “We put high expectations onto our business partners and are proud of all of the auctions that have excelled at winning these awards.”

As a first-time winner, DAA Chattanooga general manager Doug Rodriguez added, “We are extremely honored to receive this award from a great business partner. Our team has worked hard to ensure that all of our customers receive the best service we can offer.”

DAA Chattanooga is part of the Dealers Auto Auction Group, which has six auction locations in the Southeast including Dealers Auto Auction of Memphis, Dealers Auto Auction of Murfreesboro, Dealers Auto Auction of Huntsville, Dealers Auto Auction of Jackson, Dealers Auto Auction of Mobile and Dealers Auto Auction of Chattanooga.

“We value our partnership with ARI and are proud of this recognition,” said David Andrews, owner and chief executive officer of Dealers Auto Auction Group.  “We look forward to a continued partnership and an even more successful year ahead.”

“We are very proud of the accomplishment that DAA Chattanooga has achieved. They work hard on our account, and it shows in their performance,” said Chris Clarke, manager of North American Remarketing of ARI

DAA Chattanooga, located at 2120 Stein Drive in Chattanooga, Tenn., has a facility that offers eight lanes on more than 50 acres.  Services include full reconditioning, mechanical and transportation services. 

The operation’s sale is held every week on Thursdays beginning at 9 a.m., and all auction lanes are simulcast. 

LHM store named on Arizona top workplace list 3rd consecutive year


Larry H. Miller Dodge Ram Avondale (LHM Dodge Ram Avondale) recently earned a spot on the list of the 2018 Top Companies to Work for in Arizona for the third consecutive year.

This year’s other auto industry winners include .

A total of 100 companies are chosen each year. Along with all of the companies being honored with an awards breakfast reception held at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess hotel, each one was set to be featured in a special supplement for Sunday (June 10) issue of The Arizona Republic, as well as online at and .

“It is a privilege for our dealership to receive this honor for the third year in a row,”, LHM Dodge Ram Avondale general manager Michael Messina said in a news release. “We continue to realize how important employee engagement is to the growth of our dealership and to our success. When the entire team is involved, the desire to serve our customers in the best way possible comes through. Teaching and growing our employees and challenging them to reach the next level has paid dividends to enhance our culture of customer care.”

Along with its employee incentive programs for customers, LHM Dodge Ram Avondale said that it has been recognized for the no-cost, no-debt online college degree opportunities for employees and their families, as well as various company perks like: a holiday bonus program, employee appreciation and birthday celebrations, community involvement and annual pinewood derby family competition.

“The level of employee engagement among Arizona companies is about three times the national average, making it even more challenging for a company in Arizona to make this list,” said Denise Gredler, founder and chief executive offcier of BestCompaniesAZ. “Being named one of the best places to work in Arizona by your own employees is a positive endorsement of a company’s culture; it also presents a powerful opportunity to attract and retain the very best talent.”

Each year, Top Companies to Work for in Arizona companies are determined by anonymous and comprehensive employee surveys designed to measure company culture, work environment, leadership, and employee pride and satisfaction.