It started in 2001 as a call to action by a handful of remarketers to have a voice in the auction industry.
The meeting of industry leaders that followed gave birth to the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance (IARA). A decade later, the Alliance has become — and continues to grow as — an important, valuable voice in the remarketing industry. It has had strategic alliance with Bobit Business Media since 2006.
2001-2004: A CALL TO ACTION
The core group of remarketers who formed the IARA were called together by Dave Langley of American Honda Finance Corp., who informed his colleagues and professional competitors that the ADT Automotive Auction Client Advisory Board meetings were “going away,” remembered Dave Alfonso of KIA Motors of America who was invited to the meeting, which was hosted by Steve Piccinati, then with Hyundai Motor Corp.
“[Dave Langley] said we were going to lose the Client Advisory Board meetings that were designed to provide feedback to both ADT and the auction industry through the National Auto Auction Association (NAAA). He suggested we form a remarketers version of the NAAA to fill the void,” said Alfonso.
While the loss of the ADT Automotive Auction Client Advisory Board meetings was the immediate motivation to create the IARA, Langley noted there was a more fundamental need for a remarketer’s organization.
“Everyone was reinventing the wheel,” Langley explained. “Individual sellers had their own condition reports, grading systems, auction score cards, reconditioning methods and standards, marketing initiatives, and Internet programs. Fleet programs [throughout the industry] were being developed through trial and error, not collective experience.”
Joining Langley, Alfonso, and Piccinati at that eventful meeting at Hyundai with the company’s legal counsel in attendance were John Schuetz of Daewoo, Scott Kolb of American Isuzu, and Chuck Parker of Bobit Business Media.
The meeting involved putting together a lineup of officers, discussing key initiatives, writing a charter, and coming up with a name — the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance — that would acknowledge the global realities of the marketplace.
Langley took on the role of president and David Gesualdo of Bobit Business Media was appointed managing director. Gesualdo transitioned his responsibilities to Parker who briefly served as executive director — before stepping down due to other professional obligations.
Matt Marks was hired in 2002 as an employee to be the Alliance’s executive director, a role he continues to serve today.
Langley considers taking the IARA from idea to reality among his greatest accomplishments, culminating with his tenure as its first president. Another was establishing the IARA committee structure, which was spearheaded by Parker while he was executive director.
The Alliance’s first official conference was held in 2002 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo. Alliance members meet biennially in winter and summer.
In 2006, the Alliance began co-locating its winter Roundtable with the Conference of Automotive Remarketing (CAR), which is produced by Bobit Business Media. The IARA continues to hold its summer Roundtable independently.
2004-2007: THE ‘NEXT LEVEL’
While the other founders undoubtedly took the right first steps to establish the IARA and shepherd it during its formative years, Past President Stephen Houston, a remarketer with Wachovia (later Wells Fargo and now an independent remarketing consultant) — who served as the IARA’s president from 2004 to 2007 — characterizes these early days as “rocky.” This was primarily due to the fact that the auctions erroneously saw it as a potential threat in spite of the work of the other founders.
Houston’s goal as the Alliance’s second president was to change this perception and take the IARA to the “next level.” He spoke directly to the auctions, assuring them that contrary to being a threat, the IARA was an asset to them and the entire industry.
His goals concerning the auctions were to get Manheim and ADESA to join, and for the IARA to be as visibly connected to the NAAA as possible. Houston was able to convince the two auction chains to join and created a strong alliance with the NAAA that resulted, during his tenure, in initiating a partnership that elicited input from the Alliance to help in the completion of the NAAA’s grading policy and new arbitration standard initiatives.
Internally, Houston worked to make the IARA function more efficiently, creating an executive committee of the board of directors, which made recommendations to the board about policy and other business matters. With an eye to the future, he also further developed the Alliance’s succession plan, by receiving board approval to create the post of chairman.
2007-2009: PROFESSIONAL GROWTH
Because of the succession plan, a leadership continuum was created that carried on when Layne Weber, who was with Donlen Corporation at the time, succeeded Houston as president in 2007.
Weber made professionalizing the annual meetings and increasing membership priorities during his tenure as president.
Building membership had been a focus since the early days of the IARA, and he said a “concerted effort” was made to attract more consignors. While there were efforts to get the large OEMs — GM, Ford, and Chrysler — the big push was to attract the fleet management companies (five major fleet leasing companies were signed up as members and all the major lease companies attended meetings while Weber was serving as president) and financial institution consignors. This success resulted in more auction groups joining as well.
“The auctions became more involved and offered more sponsorship, because they had more clients. We reenergized the membership,” Weber said.
Another way Weber helped reenergize and reengage the membership was by reinvigorating the Alliance’s committees.
In addition to building membership, a key sponsorship with Manheim and an ongoing strategic alliance with Bobit Business Media helped the IARA’s coffers grow as well. Membership was only part of the solution, Weber said, noting that “we paid a little more attention to the budget.”
The drive toward fiscal stability was started under Houston, said Weber, but he completed the work, growing the treasury to the point the Alliance had a year’s worth of reserves. “That was nice because we knew that if we didn’t bring in a penny for the next year we had enough money to run the organization,” he said.
At the end of his term in 2009, Weber, who is currently a vice president at CitiFinancial Remarketing and Recovery Services, succeeded Houston as the chairman of the board.
2009-2011: LOOKING AHEAD
There have been many milestones during the decade-long existence of the IARA. Among them are launching the biennial IARA Roundtables in 2002, the formal association with Bobit Business Media in 2006, co-locating the IARA with CAR, the IARA awards program, the Northwood Orientation program for entry-level remarketers, and the Certified Automotive Remarketer (CAR) Program for advanced-level remarketers.
Some of these programs have been developed and executed by the IARA; others, such as the arbitration program, vehicle grading program, vehicle certification program, and structural damage policy were NAAA initiatives with input from the IARA. The one thing all these milestones have in common is that they were completed in a spirit of cooperation.
“We’ve all worked together. It’s not like politics where each new administration changes the strategy. We’ve had this flow of leadership,” Weber explained.
The flow continued with Bob Graham, ARI’s vice president of vehicle remarketing, who followed Weber as president in 2009, serving until August 2011.
As president of the Alliance, he continued the groundwork started by Langley, Houston, and Weber: continued focus on membership, fiscal stability, and promoting the Roundtable’s professional content.
Under Graham’s tenure, IARA revenues reached a record high, keeping the Alliance on a strong financial footing. And he helped refine the succession plan — again with board approval — by creating a second vice president position, ensuring that there are no gaps in the leadership continuum.
Earlier this year, Graham chaired the first-ever strategic planning session that evaluated the IARA’s strengths and weaknesses to set clear goals and a roadmap of how to achieve them.
And, like his predecessors, Graham initiated several programs that will serve the Alliance well into its next decade. These include the “remote rep” standardization initiative, mobile applications, and vehicle service history reports.
The “remote rep” initiative aims to establish uniform standards so procedures don’t vary appreciably between auctions. The mobile applications initiative will include a set of useful tools that will be available at remarketers’ fingertips. Vehicle history reports impact the entire automotive industry and the initiative will help to “shape” how that information is used.
The next chapter in the Alliance’s future began in August when Graham became the chairman, and turned over the presidential reins to Rob Wagner, associate director, asset remarketing, Hyundai Motor Finance Corp./KIA Motors Finance Corp.