When Dan Kennedy heard his name announced as Bobit Business Media’s 2012 Consignor of the Year honoree during March’s Conference of Automotive Remarketers (CAR), he was surprised.
But, he was the picture of calm when he accepted the award from AF Editor and CAR Conference Co-chair Mike Antich. The manager for GM Remarketing deflected praise from himself during his short acceptance speech by thanking his GM and Ally teams. “My name might be on the trophy, but it truly is an award for my entire team,” he observed later. “From the home office to the field, from the staff to our partners, we couldn’t make GM’s remarketing department work without the team.”
The Consignor of the Year award is presented yearly by Bobit Business Media to an OEM remarketing professional who has demonstrated longevity within the industry, is among the top in the industry in terms of volume, and has shown a willingness to adopt and innovate changes in remarketing.
All these describe Kennedy to the proverbial “T.”
Building GM’s Residual Value
Kennedy, an accountant by training, joined GM’s Staff Accounting Services in 1978, and held positions in several other departments and groups with the automaker before settling with the GM remarketing team in 1986.
A far cry from his accounting days, Kennedy has thoroughly enjoyed his time in remarketing. “This is a staff whose function is not widely recognized, but we make such an impact on the bottom line,” he said. “The empowerment GM has given us enables the staff to move quickly in making decisions.”
Kennedy has been manager for GM Remarketing since 2010, and is responsible for managing GM’s vehicle remarketing activities, including maintaining relationships with auctions, overseeing inventory levels, and maximizing residual levels.
Maximizing residual values is one of the key ways that Kennedy and his team help influence the bottom line. “The big picture we’re always looking at is how we can make our vehicles more attractive to buyers by reducing their cost of ownership, thus helping to move them into new vehicles quicker,” he explained.
Kennedy relishes the fact that there isn’t a lot about remarketing that’s routine. “It’s one of those jobs that you don’t know what you’re facing day-to-day. There’s no routine and you’re often at the mercy of the weather, the economy, and other factors out of your control,” he said.
But, what he likes most are the people. “The industry is filled with great people who are willing to do anything to help you,” Kennedy said.
While there is much that has remained the same over the 26 years Kennedy has been involved with remarketing, much has changed.
He noted that today’s facilities are much better, catering to the customer’s needs — gone are the days of primitive facilities where one might find a vehicle being painted in an auction parking lot instead of a controlled bay. “The auctions have really stepped up and made their facilities very modern,” Kennedy said. “They have built facilities conducive to us and the dealers.”
Technology has probably transformed the remarketing industry most of all, and Kennedy was there from the beginning, pioneering GM’s first remote factory sale in 2000, which was initially met with skepticism. “I was told, ‘this will never work,’ ” he recalled.
The skeptics were proven wrong when it did work. “The technology today is fabulous and is all geared to make it easier to do business,” Kennedy commented.
While he sees technology playing a key role in the future, making remarketing “bigger, better, faster,” he doesn’t see physical lanes becoming a thing of the past anytime soon. “Even if you buy the vehicle online, you still need to have someone to walk around the vehicle and inspect it, you need to have someone physically repair it, and you have to have someone physically transport it,” he said.
Comfortable facilities and the remarketing technological revolution may have made some of the biggest changes in the business, but, for Kennedy personally, the best change is the reputation the industry has been able to build over the last 26 years. “Today, remarketing is very respected, and helping to guide and protect it are industry organizations such as the National Auto Auction Association (NAAA), the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance (IARA), and CAR, which is making remarketing bigger, better, and stronger,” he said.
Keeping Close to Home
A native of Shelby Township, Mich., Kennedy still lives near his boyhood home — keeping him close to his extended family.
Kennedy has been married to his wife, Sherry, for 33 years, and has two grown children. His daughter is an event planner who lives in west Michigan and his son oversees the ticket sales and ticketing staff for the Nashville Predators hockey team.
Kennedy has a bachelor’s degree in business and accounting from Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., and a master’s degree in management and supervision from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Mich. The Consignor of the Year honor wasn’t Kennedy’s first acknowledgement from the industry.
In 2011, he was inducted into the NAAA Hall of Fame. “It was an honor and a surprise, and one of the bigger highlights of my career,” Kennedy said.
Looking ahead, Kennedy said that his goal is to continue to grow GM’s remarketing business and help customers sell their vehicles both online and inlane. “As seller and buyers’ needs change, the industry will move to keep up with them,” he said.
GM Achieves Milestone with Southern Auto Auction’s Help
In life and business, timing is everything. An example of good timing occurred recently for GM’s remarketing department when it sold its 14 millionth vehicle at Southern Auto Auction in East Windsor, Conn. The March 28 sale coincided with the auction’s 65th anniversary. “The sale dovetailed nicely with Southern Auto Auction’s anniversary,” observed Dan Kennedy, manager for GM remarketing.
The sale included 181 dealers inlane or online. “There was a lot of excitement and hype—there was a state legislator in attendance, and the mayor of East Windsor gave Southern Auto Auction President Larry Tribble and GM keys to the city,” Kennedy commented.
The 14 millionth remarketed GM vehicle was a 2011 blue Chevrolet Equinox, which was bought by Todd Caputo, owner of Sun Chevrolet, Inc., of Chittenango, N.Y.
According to Kennedy, GM has been celebrating every 1 millionth vehicle sold at auction since 1982. And, while it’s a time to celebrate, the milestone holds a deeper significance for GM leadership.
“The 14 millionth remarketed GM vehicle is a milestone that signifies our commitment to providing dealers and customers quality used vehicles,” said Ed Peper, general manager, GM Fleet and Commercial Operations. “This is an important part of our business. High residuals translate to greater vehicle value, which benefits our dealers and customers of both pre-owned and new vehicles.”
Southern Auto Auction earned the right to sell the 14 millionth GM vehicle by winning an October 2011 contest for pulling the most sales from recently inactive dealers.