Greg Thibault and Todd August met while working at the Alamo Rent A Car location at the Los Angeles International Airport in 1984.
Some 30- years later, the pair is front-and-center of the national remarketing organization at Avis Budget Group, a company they each have called home for two decades.
Thibault, who joined Avis Budget in 1997, is the company's vice president of fleet disposal, and August (who joined the previous year) is director of wholesale operations.
And this year, they can each add another title: National Remarketing Executive of the Year.
AuSM is proud to honor August and Thibault with this award — now in its fourth year and sponsored by ServNet — at the National Remarketing Conference as part of Used Car Week, scheduled for Nov. 14-18 at the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas.
They will be presented the award at 4:30 p.m. (PT) on Nov. 16.
AuSM caught up with Thibault and August in October to learn more about their backgrounds and what they enjoy about the auction business, and to discuss industry trends and more.
A ‘fun,’ fast-moving business
August has never been a stranger to the industry. A “legacy of the automobile industry,” his father worked at Southern Auto Auction. August went to auctioneering school and eventually joined the auction business, working first with Manheim and then Alamo. He has been with Avis for slightly more than 20 years.
Thibault, meanwhile, was hired as one of Alamo's first employees at its Denver location in 1982, then met August in 1984 at the LAX location. Thibault has been with Avis for more than 19 years.
“Every day is a new day and it's an ever-changing market,” Thibault said when asked what he enjoys most about the business.
There is excitement and challenges each day and, they said, a lot of great people.
“A lot of it is the people,” August said.
In fact, August mentioned that many of the folks he works with now are the sons and daughters of the people he worked with years ago.
“That's kind of fun,” he said.
So, too, is the fast pace of an auction, they say. After all, when deals are being made in less than a minute, it's hard to get bored.
Change & balance
Just as cars change hands as they move down the auction lane, the industry changes paths as it moves through new eras.
When asked about the big changes in the remarketing business that they've seen since they joined the industry, the Avis Budget executives first pointed to the “pendulum” of OEM strategy on rental risk versus program cars.
As Thibault explained, automakers temporarily stopped selling risk vehicles and went to program cars back in the 1990s. That “pendulum” has since swung back, he said.
Additionally, they point out the major changes in technology that have impacted the remarketing industry. Thibault noted that over the past few years online has become a “big piece of the remarketing strategy for us.”
A challenge associated with that is the redistribution, Thibault said, as remarketers have to balance their consignors in the various channels, including online, in-lane, direct-to-dealer and so forth.
In other words, make sure the car is in the right channel or location and at the right time.
And that may include the digital environment.
“In 2016, if you’re not participating in the digital world, you’re going to fall behind,” Thibault said.
In July, Avis Budget Group and TrueCar signed a multi-year partnership agreement in which retail used-vehicle shoppers can access Avis Budget Group’s inventory of high-quality, well-maintained off-rental vehicles through TrueCar.com. When asked if there was potential for additional innovation like this in the rental remarketing space, Thibault said he sees “more of that coming” in the near term.
Another example of digital innovation would be Avis Direct, where dealers have a dedicated website to buy late-model, off-rental vehicles from the company. More than 5,000 have signed up.
But again, in remarketing strategy, it's always a balance.