Houston's auto auctions have begun assessing the impact of Hurricane Harvey so they can resume full business activity during the week following Labor Day to supply replacement vehicles for those who lost cars, trucks, and SUVs in the flood.
ADESA Houston, which is located in the northeastern section of the city, was "not severely impacted by flooding" but closed its doors during the storm. Vehicle inventory is "dry and ready for sale," and the auction will reopen once roads are clear and employees can safety return to work, said Paul Lips, chief operating officer for ADESA parent KAR Auction Services.
With 13 nearby auctions in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, ADESA will be able to move needed inventory into Houston to meet demand.
"We have had conversations with some rental, fleet, and auto-finance customers who have talked about moving additional cars into the area to meet the anticipated increase in demand," Lips said. "Our ADESA auctions are well positioned to take on this additional inventory.
Manheim also closed its three Houston-area auctions, which include Manheim Houston, Manheim Texas Hobby, and Manheim South Houston. The auctions will remain closed the week of Sept. 4, while the company assesses damage, said Nick Boris, Manheim's vice president for the Central region.
While the physical auctions were closed, Manheim held digital sales at its Houston and Texas Hobby locations.
"Instead of preparing for sales next week, we’re taking care of our people, assessing our clients' inventory and proactively communicating with dealers about the status of our operations and their assets," Boris said.
Manheim's Atlanta-based Human Resources team is providing resources and information to employees affected by the storm about the company's Cox Employee Relief Fund that offers financial assistance for unexpected needs after a natural disaster. Manheim is owned by Cox Automotive.
Independent auctions were also gearing up to restart sales. America's Auto Auction in southern Houston opened on Wednesday. Auction managers canceled the Aug. 31 Thursday sale, but plan to run vehicles on Sept. 7. There was no flooding at the facility, said Rob Frazier, general manager.
Vehicle Remarketing also reached out to Houston Auto Auction but did not hear back by press time.
Market watchers have projected that the storm could destroy as many as 1 million vehicles in the storm's path.
The devastation should create strong demand for replacement vehicles, especially pickup trucks and work vans needed by contractors who will work to help residents rebuild their homes and other property, said Tim West, Black Book's vice president of North American auctions.
Auctions in the area could also see additional fleet vehicles, as companies may look to terminate their leases early and send vehicles to auctions during an expected surge in demand, West said.
"I think there's going to be a lot of pressure in certain segments with the pickups and work van segment," West said. "Fortunately we're in the midst of a record year for lease terminations and low mileage clean vehicles coming off leases. It’s a catastrophic event but the industry is in a pretty strong position with supply for the demand."