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Jack Neshe didn’t realize he’d need to know French to serve as president of the National Auto Auction Association.
Neshe, who completes his term this month, said the language barrier came up during a visit to a Canadian auction in Quebec.
“Normally, we send out arbitration diagrams (signage) in English to all of our member auctions,” he said. “We never realized that in Quebec, you can’t hang it in English. It had to be in French. We never knew that.”
So when NAAA Executive Director Frank Hackett got back to the office, he had another sign made up in French and sent it back up to the auction, Neshe said.
It’s one of those things that showed the NAAA that there’s always something to think about when serving members, he said.
Neshe said his time in leadership has gone by quickly.
“Everyone said it would go by fast,” he said, “but it actually went faster than I expected.”
The NAAA structure has the president travel with the president-elect throughout the year to make for smooth transitions.
It worked out well with Neshe and incoming president Ellie Johnson, since Neshe has a Friday sale and Johnson has a Monday sale. They were able to travel in the middle of the week.
It’s really a three-year journey, from vice president to president-elect to president, Neshe said.
Travel is always a big part of the position, though Neshe said he covered more auctions with former President Paul Lips.
“I think we visited 75 auctions that year,” he said. I spent more time with Frank and Paul than with my wife.”
His travel this past year has been less hectic, though he’s visited about two dozen sales. The focus this year was choosing auctions that had never been visited before.
“It’s nice, because now when I go to a convention, I can put a face to a name and location,” Neshe said.
Another thing that stood out to Neshe is how the small NAAA staff manages all of the moving parts of the organization.
“I think that’s the part that really amazed me,” he said. “You really get close to the staff and become family.”
When asked what thoughts or advice he had for Johnson, Neshe said that even though the industry seems big, it’s really a small industry.
“We were welcomed everywhere,” he said. “What a great experience.”
As part of his Canadian travels, Neshe, along with Johnson and Hackett, had the unique experience of having a dinner with a group of auction rivals.
“We had (representatives) from a Manheim, auction, an ADESA auction and an independent who were all in the same locality,” Neshe said. “They had never had dinner together, and they had dinner together with us. It was wonderful.”
In the end, Neshe said he would do it all again.
“It’s such an honor to serve.”
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Wholesale used vehicle prices (on a mix-, mileage-, and seasonally adjusted basis) declined 0.7 percent in August.
This was the fourth consecutive monthly decline and brought the August Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index reading to 121.8, down 0.4 percent from a year ago.
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Grant Miller, president/CEO, Central Pennsylvania Auto Auction Inc., Lock Haven, Pa.:
“We’ve been here 27 years. We’ll have our 27th anniversary on Aug. 28. We’ll give away $27,000 in cash
“We have five lanes and we’re running all five.
“Volumes usually run up to 700 on our regular sale. We’ll average about 650. In terms of volumes, we’ve dropped a few. But dollar-wise, we’re managing to stay even with last year.
“Our sales percentages have averaged 61 percent since our first year. But we’re struggling to hold that now. We find that June and July, during vacations, is tough to do big volumes of business. During tax season, we were selling 78 percent. When that stops, the market changes really quick. We do a great job with late-model vehicles as far as prices, but we just don’t get a large amount of volume.
“We don’t have a factory sale. We do business with a few banks and lease companies, but that’s about it. Our lease numbers run from 70 to 90 per week.
“We also have a utility sale once a month and we’ll run 1,000 cars on that day. That’s every third Thursday of the month. We have a contract with Verizon, so we remarket their lease-end and terminated vehicles.
“We’ll draw anywhere from 375 dealers a week for our regular sales to 500 for our specialty sales. We have great dealer support. More likely, 80 percent of our dealers come from Pennsylvania. But we have quite a few coming from New Jersey. We also get dealers from Ohio Maryland and New York.
“We have our own transportation company and that helps us. We have 16 to 17 transporters, some four-car, some two-car and nine-car carriers. We can also move heavy equipment from our utility sales.
“We’ve found that to be very critical to our business.
“Our average price in the lanes – not including salvage – is between $8,000 and $9,000.
“Jeep prices are just our of sight. I can’t believe some of the prices they’re bringing. They’re bringing what they brought two years ago.
“I think, if anything is struggling, it’s the high-priced, late-model, full-size cars like the Chrysler 300s and the Cadillacs.”
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Michael Cooley, general manager, Quincy Auto Auction, Quincy, Mass.:
“Sales have been super.
“We’re in our 23rd year. We have six lanes.
“Volumes are good, they’re up. We’re averaging between 1,200 and 1,300 cars per week. Last year, we were at 900.
“I attribute a lot of it to the economy doing pretty good. Some of it is just the overall growth of the car business.
“And some has to do with the facility itself. We’re drawing in more dealers because of the facility.
“Sales percentages are averaging in the high 60s, low 70s. Anything less that 66 percent is not good. We’re usually between 66 and 70 percent.
“We’re (bringing) into the lanes, on average, about 1,000 dealers per week. We’re easy to get to from pretty much anywhere. We’ve got guys who come down from Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and all over Massachusetts.
“The (volumes) are good for the dealers. Plus, we have a really nice storage facility. So if guys want to buy cars but can’t get them out right away, we provide them a storage facility at a reasonable rate. We have 120 acres available for storage.
“So they may see the market is right to buy cars and they want to buy 10 to 15 cars but don’t have the room for them. We can provide the storage.
“The overall (mood) of the dealers is that they seem to have a positive outlook coming out of the summer and into the fall buying season.
“About 90 percent of our volume is dealer consignment. That’s gone up a little bit as we cater more toward the independent dealers.
“We still do some fleet-lease. We do a lot with Enterprise Rent-a-Car, local banks and credit unions.
“We also work with Fleet Street Remarketing and they’ve told us that their consignments are going to be picking up into the fall season.
“Repossessions have gone down a little bit. I think the banks have been working a lot closer with their clients, trying to keep them in the cars.
“We still have (salvage/in-op units). We also do an RV sale a couple of times a year, in the spring and fall. It’s not a big number.
“Post-sale inspections have picked up a lot. They are up about 30 percent over last year.
“The average price coming through the lanes is about $3,200. It might have gone up a little, but not much.
“The truck market has picked up a little bit as we go into the fall. Light-duty trucks are starting to pick up. Outside of that, everything is steady.
“We’ve been seeing a lot more franchise dealers bringing their cars to the auction.”
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Clint Lutz, general manager, Paducah Auto Auction, Paducah, Ky.:
“We’ve been in business since 1991.
“We have three lanes and we’re running all three.
“Volumes are pretty much the same as this time last year. They may be off just a hair, but we’ll run 200 to 225 every week.
“Sales percentages have been in the high 50s, low 60s. On a good week, it will hit almost 70 percent.
“(Percentages are) about the same as this time last year. Of course, July
always turns around and it’s slow.
“We get about 150 dealers in the lanes. It’s probably about the same as this time last year.
“Just looking across the lanes, it seems the same.
“But last year, we didn’t have the computer system we have now that keeps up with that. We have a good set-up that tracks the bidders, the number of them in the lanes, the sales percentages (etc.), the whole nine yards.
“Our old system would just check people in but not really track who was here and when they came.
“We’re in the western part of the state, so our dealers are coming from a 150 mile to 200 mile radius.
“They are coming from Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.
“It seems like at the sales, there is a shortage of really nice cars with low mileage. When you get one, it brings top dollar.
“Dealers, most of them, sound like they’re doing just fair. Nobody’s bragging.
“A majority of our cars are dealer consignment.
‘But we’ve got some (repos from) local banks and some from TitleMax and payday loan places. We’ll sell for those places.
“On a normal week – out of our 200 to 225 total (units) – we’ll get 50 or 60 that are new-car trades, maybe 30 or 40 are repo-type cars and the rest will be regular dealer consignment.
“Everybody I talk to is expecting a bigger increase in repos over the coming months than they expected they would have this time last year.
“We also try to do a
salvage sale once a month.
“The average price is in the low $4,000s.
“I really feel that if the demand for the good mileage stuff and nicer cars stays the way it is, the prices are
going to stay strong.”