New NAAA chief wants auction jobs to become industry careers

Action from the NAAA Convention at Used Car Week 2016. Photo by Jonathan Fredin.
PALM SPRINGS, Calif.  - 

Warren Clauss knows first-hand that auction industry jobs can lead to dynamic careers.

The former certified public accountant snagged the controller job at the Auto Dealers Exchange Buffalo, in Akron, N.Y. — then owned by ADESA founder Mike Hockett, who went on to found Auction Broadcasting Co. — when the site opened in 1992.

Two years later Clauss became its assistant manager and two years after that, he was named its general manager. The site was renamed ADESA Buffalo when ADESA changed ownership in the mid-1990s.

ADESA is currently owned by KAR Auction Services Inc. Through it all, Clauss remains its general manager.

His already impressive resume gets even longer when he takes over as president of the National Auto Auction Association at its annual conference in Palm Springs, Calif.

The NAAA Convention is held in partnership with the as part of AuSM’s .

Warren Clauss, NAAA

Among his goals for the coming year is to brainstorm with other auction leaders about ways to attract career-minded employees to the industry and keep them in the fold.

“We’ve all struggled with hiring and recruiting,” said Clauss.

He takes over the presidency from Jerry Hinton, who will become NAAA chairman. Hinton is general manager of ADESA Portland, in Portland, Ore.

“I’d like to collaborate with industry leaders whether they’re with ADESA, Manheim, independents, to see if we can do anything different or better from a recruiting perspective,” Clauss said. “Kids coming out of school may or may not realize there are some career opportunities in the NAAA industry. There are hundreds of job opportunities collectively throughout the country.”

Among those opportunities are management positions in auction body shops and in finance and transportation departments, he said. There are also positions in sales and labor jobs such as service technicians.

How to promote the array of jobs available at auctions is still in the planning stages and could involve recruiting at trade schools, community colleges and four-year colleges and universities, Clauss said.

Scholarships might help

NAAA’s Warren Young Sr. Scholastic Foundation, which awards scholarships totaling $52,000 annually in a dozen merit scholarships might be helpful, he said.

“It could be that with these scholarships, when we honor students, we stay in touch with them,” Clauss said. “We need to do a better job advertising who we are, what we do and what we have available.”

Still, this is a good time to be in the auction business. A widely anticipated and significant industrywide increase in off-lease volume means more vehicles being sold at NAAA member auctions and more opportunities to sell ancillary services, Clauss said.

But conversely, with those greater opportunities come greater challenges. This is especially true when it comes to meeting customers’ expectations when providing services such as inspecting, cleaning and performing mechanical and body work on vehicles, he said.

“Throughput becomes a concern,” Clauss said. “But we all have these processes and procedures and we’re able to handle (those tasks) with a turnkey approach. Most of us have the facilities and the workforce to make it happen as the volume is increasing.”

Like the three previous NAAA presidents, Clauss will continue to emphasize auction safety during his presidency. The push for greater safety awareness in auctions includes online training in a wide variety of topics such as distracted walking, falls and driving safety.

Add OSHA training

Clauss would like to add Occupational Safety and Health Administration classes to the curriculum for some employees.

The 10-hour class would be targeted to auction supervisors and managers of people and are designed to ensure that workers are knowledgeable about workplace safety and health hazards.

“It would be up to each individual auction to determine whether and who should take (the class) and how frequently,” Clauss said.

In his spare time during the summer, Clauss can be found on the golf course a couple of times a week — he has a 12 handicap — with a few golfing buddies.

But from about August through March, find him on the ice officiating USA Hockey games for high-school age and younger children. Clauss played hockey while in high school and college and coached his sons, Hans and Theodore, who also grew up playing hockey.

“When my kids were in grade school — which is when I (officiated ice hockey) back in the day — I asked them if they would be interested in becoming an on-ice hockey official. I told them I did it I when I was their age under the encouragement of my mom. I said ‘if you get your credentials, I’ll get my credentials again’. It was nice officiating with them, father and sons.” Clauss’ sons are grown and no longer involved in hockey.

He also has a daughter, Grace, and has been married to wife, Molly, for 29 years.

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