Chris Clarke, manager, North American Remarketing for ARI, received the 2019 Consignor of the Year Award at the 2019 Conference of Automotive Remarketing.
The award — whose recipient is chosen by a voting body of peers — recognized Clarke’s work at ARI.
At ARI, Clarke operates one of the most diverse sales distribution networks in the industry and oversees a robust multi-platform virtual remarketing presence.
He also manages partnerships with all the major auction chains and an expansive network of independent auctions. His strategic partnerships with retail consignors have also helped drive net returns for ARI clients.
In 2018 Clarke led a remarketing team that executed one of the best net return years ever for his clients. ARI saw a record year in speed of sale and volume.
In addition, Clarke helped develop and deliver monthly scorecards to its auction network to help improve communication and drive performance.
Clarke also works with industry associations, such as the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance (IARA).
Clarke has been in the remarketing industry for more than 25 years. He entered the automotive industry straight out of college and it didn’t take him long to transition into the remarketing side of the business.
Clarke spoke with Automotive Fleet after receiving the award to talk about the recognition, as well as the commercial fleet remarketing industry as a whole.
“I was extremely honored to get the recognition and to be able to represent ARI and the entire team,” said Clarke. “It’s the culmination of an extremely hard work filled year in remarketing. It was special to receive that, especially understanding that the recognition comes from a peer group in the industry.”
The Current State of the Remarketing Industry
The biggest trend that Clarke has seen in the remarketing industry is the movement away from sedans and toward SUVs — a trend that has been a topic of discussion for the past several years.
As many have heard, growing demand for SUVs and crossovers has lifted values for these segments at auction. Meanwhile, slower sedan demand has hurt sedan values, and they’ve suffered as a result.
Clarke has heard these same talking points, but recent data he’s seen seems to point toward the contrary.
“That’s the challenge I’m seeing right now,” said Clarke. “We’re hearing a lot of things anecdotally, but when you dig into the data … it appears that the risk proposition has been shifted. I think there’s an argument of sedans having bottomed out and now the risk, because of increased production, is on SUVs and pickups. But, I think there’s still a major appetite for them.”
Clarke doesn’t expect the current appetite for SUVs and crossovers and truck to change in the foreseeable future. Fuel prices are low and they’re predicted to stay relatively stable in the long-term, he noted.
Clarke is remaining cautiously optimistic, as he’s been for a while.
The used market has been good for quite some time, he noted. But, the longer something stays good, the less comfortable people tend to get.
“That’s kind of where I am,” said Clarke. “I don’t see clouds in the horizon, but there’s something that just says, ‘It’s been so good for so long.’”
Clarke’s Start in the Industry
Clarke entered the automotive space as soon as he graduated from college.
He got a job with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and he stayed there for 23 years.
At Enterprise, he started on the rental side but soon moved to the remarketing side of the business. Of the 23 years he was with Enterprise, roughly 19 or 20 years were on the remarketing side.
After leaving Enterprise, he spent a year at Ward Services, on the remarketing side of the business.
After that, in 2015, he joined ARI as manager, North American Remarketing.
Some of the biggest differences he’s seen revolve around the type of assets he’s selling now versus what he was selling at his previous companies.
“In the rental side of things, I was selling assets that were pretty much all company owned,” said Clarke. “Here we are remarketing assets that are both company owned and client owned. The expectations in the level of service and communication with our clients, and transparency of transactions is critically important in my current role. We want our clients to fully understand what we’re doing to deliver, ultimately, the net best returns possible on their behalf.”
Assets in the rental side of the business were typically 3-year-old light-duty vehicles, and a large percentage of sedans. At ARI, the company maintains a wildly diverse vocational fleet with varying types of assets.
The average vehicle is 7 years old and could have 100,000 miles on it.
“Understanding the product and the different market you need to find relative to a rental unit is probably for me the biggest difference,” said Clarke.
ARI manages more than 1.5 million fleet vehicles in North America, a number that Clarke noted has been growing in recent years.
“We’ve continued to see volume increase as we continue to sign on new clients and continue to see our order volumes grow,” said Clarke. “That translates to into additional remarketing volumes. That’s really exciting, but it also presents a challenge when it presents a potential strain on resources.”
Clarke said that ARI’s remarketing team is comprised of roughly 30 people. In the past five years, ARI has continued to see steady growth in its remarketing business, the remarketing business is now handling more than 80,000 assets, and the same 30 centrally-located people are responsible for the assets.
The way that his team has been able to scale with the surging remarketing business while maintaining a consistent headcount is by leveraging a lot of internal technology, Clarke said.
ARI’s remarketing team uses AI to handle repetitive tasks so employees can spend more time on decision making for clients. AI gathers and reports data to help make more automated and machine learned decision in various aspects of ARI’s process, according to Clarke.
The types of assets that ARI consigns includes light duty vehicles such as sedans, SUVs, pickups, vans, as well as heavy duty vehicles such as Class 7-8 trucks. Some of the vehicles are upfitted for vocational fleets, while others are not.
The company also remarkets specialized equipment such as forklifts, scissor lifts, and equipment trailers. In fact, ARI as an organization, has begun to place a bigger focus on leasing equipment, and that focus extends to its remarketing operations.
Clarke said that it takes a specialized skillset knowledge and network to deliver on ARI’s diversity of products.
ARI’s wheelhouse; however, still remains in light-duty vocational vehicles, such as pickups and cargo vans.
About 25% of its vehicles are consigned to ADESA auctions, another 25% are consigned to Manheim Auctions, and the remaining 50% are consigned to its network of independent auctions. For its heavy equipment, it works with more specialized auctions such as JJ Kane Auctioneers and Ritchie Bros Auctioneers.
“We believe that using a diverse network and finding the best auction in that market for our type of product is the best strategy,” said Clarke.