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Wholesale Markets Kansas


Bill Watkins, controller, Sunflower Auto Auction, Topeka, Kan.:

“We had a pretty good spring. The dealers are

“Sales have definitely slowed down in the last few weeks now that tax season is over. It wasn’t as good as it was last year, either. 

“We had a little downswing this year.

“I just don’t think there’s as much money out there during tax season.

“It mostly affected volume. It didn’t affect what the dealers were buying.

“There were a few weeks that were fast and furious, but it wasn’t as long or as big as usual.

“We average around $3,500 for our vehicles.

“We run two lanes.

“We get our cars from new-car dealers for the most part. They’ve been
doing OK.

“The used-car dealers have seen their business slow down some.

“No one car or truck is especially strong now. Dealers are looking for vehicles with low miles at a low price.

“We handle some repos for buy-here, pay-here

“We’re an hour from Kansas City. We get a lot of our dealers from the rural area around Topeka. 

“We get a few dealers from Nebraska and we’re getting a few more from Wichita.

“Our online sales have picked up quite a bit.

“We sell on OVE, SmartAuction and ADESA LiveBlock.

“We list higher-end vehicles from the dealers’
lots online. 

“We don’t have the vehicles physically at the auction.  It only comes here if they sell it.

“We think that’s the way the business is going. That’s absolutely good for a two-lane auction like us.

“Usually the end of May isn’t very good, but after that we expect it to be


Wholesale Markets - Georgia


Bill McCready, vice president of operations, Southeastern Auto Auction of Savannah, Savannah, Ga.:

“The auction has been around for about 28 years. We have four lanes and we’re running all four lanes. We have a Wednesday dealer-only sale and a Thursday public sale.

“Volume for the dealer sale has been about 600-plus. We do about 250-plus for our public sale. So we offer about 900 cars weekly through both sales.

“Our (sales percentage) is about 60 percent.

“We have an increase in volume from this time last year. We’ve been doing a lot more advertising, a lot more promotions and expanding with new sales reps to get more business. We’ve been investing a lot and it’s been paying off. 

“We’ll get about 250 to 300 (buyers) for the dealer-only sale. It’s closer to 300 if you count all the bidder badges.

“Dealers have been pretty positive. It’s been kind of an interesting tax season the way the money came out. But overall, they had good attitudes. Dealers are happy and they’ve said it’s been a pretty successful tax season.

“About 85 percent of our volume is dealer consignment and 15 percent is institutional. We’ve got some rental units, but the majority is from credit unions and banks. We plan on growing that side of the business.

“We post cars online for dealers and even go to their lots to do condition reports. Then we post them on OVE, Openlane, SmartAuction and AuctionPipeline. We also do the same thing with the cars that are here on
the ground.

“We’re going to continue to unleash new and exciting promotions, ramping up advertising to get new buyers and sellers in here.

“The more expensive frontline-ready stuff is doing really well.”

Wholesale Markets Connecticut


Peter Saldamarco, president/general manager, Central Auto Auction, Hamden, Conn.:

“We just had our nine-year anniversary on Feb. 26. We had to celebrate a week late because of snow. 

“It was a tough winter. It was late, though. We were halfway through January and never needed (plow) trucks out. We thought we were going to get a pass. Then it came and it was non-stop for seven weeks.

“We just opened our third lane in January. We have capacity for four lanes, but we had been running two based on volume.

“So we’re now running three lanes for the first time. It’s just normal growth over nine years. Our reputation is being solidified. We have a GSA account and we’re doing quite well with that. Other smaller lease companies have tagged on with that. We’re starting to make our mark.

“We run over 300 cars every week and we’ve been selling roughly 60 percent. Volumes are up maybe 10 percent from last year.

“Our (percentage of dealer consignment to commercial) is about 70 to 30. We’re making some good inroads into commercial consignment. It’s too soon to tell (how much fleet/lease consignment is coming back into the market). The weather has been so bad and so disruptive, that I really can’t get a good read on it at the moment.

“GSA is a big consignor and we do business with a bunch of charity donation vehicles. We work with VRS out of Chicago, FLD and several mid-tier repo companies. It’s been steady, maybe up a tick.

“It seems dealers have been doing well. Our sales percentages were up despite the weather.

“Prices have been up considerably. My average price is $3,800. If you factor in the GSA, that goes up higher.

“We run the GSA monthly on the third Tuesday. Generally, the (GSA units) run from April to November.

“On those days, we kick the sale off at the normal 10:30 start time, but start off with the GSA (units). Of course, that’s open to the public. For the most part those are passenger vehicles. But we also get a lot of lighter trucks, because our next-door neighbor is Amtrak. The Cedar Hill Rail Yard in New Haven New is one of the biggest railroad yards in the country.

“This is our fourth year selling GSA. Our percentages are good and our performance is good. We’re the No. 1 auction in the U.S. for days to sale, so that gives me some bragging rights (with GSA).

“We’re looking good for 2015. Along with the third lane we’ve got a lot of
expansion going on.

“We’re opening up about an acre in the back of our property. That should give us the ability to increase our volume a bit.”

Wholesale Prices Remain Strong, But Pressure Builds

Wholesale prices are down slightly. Or up.

This is the mixed message sent by three leading used-car analysts in recent weeks, as each adjusts wholesale prices using different methodologies. But they both reach similar conclusions.

The Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index stood at 124.5 in March, down from 125.1 in February.

The Manheim Index adjusts prices for a number of factors, including seasonality. Prices were up before the seasonal adjustment, explains Manheim chief economist Tom Webb.

Tom Kontos, ADESA's vice president of industry analysis, makes different adjustments when looking at auction prices, which is why he reported that wholesale prices were higher in March than in February.

Kontos said this was a reflection of seasonal market strength, to a degree. He went on to say that supply is growth is causing lower conversion rates and price weakness in particular age, sale type, and model class segments.

"A problem with relying on sales prices for assessing market conditions, even based on the robust data set available through the millions of auction transactions we analyze in this space, is that this data set omits the vehicles that no-sold," Kontos said.  "A large portion of off-rental program vehicles that would have been sold in late-2014 and whose sale was curtailed until early 2015 were no-sale’d in March in hopes of better prices in forthcoming sales.  Ignoring this factor leads to a false sense of confidence in the strength of wholesale values."

Kontos said that average sales prices continue to be biased upward by a “richer mix” of institutional vehicles this year compared to last year, especially the increase in program vehicles.

Wholesale Markets NM

Ray Vickers, owner, Farmington Auto Auction, Farmington, N.M.:

“February was a complete turnaround. We’ve had a fabulous February.

“January was off quite a bit. I’m not sure what to attribute it to. Our dealers in this area did not have a good January so as a result, we didn’t have a
good month.

“Volumes have been up compared to this time
last year.

“Normally around tax time we have a hard time getting inventory to sale. This year we’ve been able to get more cars and we’re selling more.

“Our percentages have been right at 60 percent. Even January our percentages were at 60 percent, but then we just didn’t have a lot of cars.

“I don’t have the average number of dealers in the lanes, but it’s been up. We’ve been growing, so we’re getting more dealers.

“Dealers have said that, for the most part, they had a tough January, but business picked up starting the last week of January. So they have a little
more confidence.

“We’re mainly a dealer consignment sale, but we do have some lease accounts that have been real good to us. Those are repos.

“I don’t think that the number of repos have changed from this time last year. The volume of repos is usually the same. The only thing that changes that is if we were to add a new client.

“In February we ran a GSA sale. The GSA (account) has been really good for us.  We only had 43 cars.

“The GSA put their orders in late for the new cars, so it doesn’t look like we will have a sale in March.

“We’ll probably have our next GSA sale in April. They have a variety of vehicles.

“In our area, there are more work trucks and SUVs.

“Our average price is about $6,000 if you take out the GSA units.

“I think we’ll have a good year, but it’s not going to be a record or anything
like that.”

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