Advocacy, whether it’s addressing their needs in legislative halls or responding to the operational challenges of running an auto auction, is nothing new to NAAA.
But as the National Auto Auction Association turns 70 this year and celebrates with its annual convention in Scottsdale, Ariz., that advocacy has certainly evolved and grown throughout the past seven decades.
For example, in a timeline of milestones posted on its website, NAAA touted its work in helping to push such legislative measures as The Anti Car Theft Act of 1992 and The Truth in Mileage Act (1986).
However, the association has really ramped up its legislative efforts in more recent years, forming a political action committee in 2012 and making legislative issues a major focal point.
And as detailed below, working on behalf of auto auctions is something NAAA has at its heart, whether it’s making the 50-mile trip from its Frederick, Md., headquarters to Capitol Hill or traversing the country to meet with individual auction location leaders.
Building relationships in D.C.
NAAA has “recognized that we have to be leaders in Washington, D.C.,” says its chief executive officer, Frank Hackett.
The trade group has worked with the National Automobile Dealers Association, National Independent Auto Dealers Association and state-level independent dealer groups on Capitol Hill, as well.
“A lot of times, it can be topics that we’re working on in an individual state that may be the hot topic of the time. But in Washington, it’s really spending time with members of Congress who are the decision-makers and telling our story, that we’ve been around 70 years, and we sold 10 million cars last year and generated over $102 billion in combined sales,” Hackett said in a phone interview, referring to the auto auction industry.
“You start talking about employees or you talk about the relationship with NIADA and NADA and collectively how big we are to the economy of the country, I think that’s a story that they want to hear, and the fact that we can support them,” he said. “To me, it’s making friends in Washington before you absolutely need them. And that’s the point of the political action committee. It’s really there to establish friendships in advance of needing somebody to help you in a time when you really need their help.”
Ideas: ‘If it’s a good one, let’s all share it’
That advocacy, though, goes far beyond the halls of Congress or state legislative houses. NAAA’s history is dotted with measures creating standards designed to address the day-to-day or operational challenges that could come up at any of the NAAA-member auctions, where slightly more than 10 million cars were sold last year.
For instance, NAAA created a Water/Flood Damage Policy in 2002 and a Vehicle Condition Grading Scale and Arbitration Policy in 2006. Lately, many of its industry-wide efforts have centered on auction safety.
Hackett emphasized the importance that a trade association would “bring people together” for the common good of an industry.
“And when I say people, I’m talking about how we can be very competitive amongst the auctions, but yet we can do things like set standards with arbitration (or) safety, where people can wrap their arms around Safe T. Sam, which was created by KAR Auction Services, (and) just recognize that it could be somebody’s else’s idea, but if it’s a good one, let’s all share it,” Hackett said.
Regarding the safety measure to which he was referring, the Safe T. Sam full- and part-time auction employee safety certification program has been a major point of emphasis for NAAA. So, too, has been the Coach Caution auctioneer safety training program.
Hackett said over 36,000 auction employees have been Safe T. Sam certified, and with Manheim pushing to certify its entire employee headcount before the end of 2018, that number could jump by about 15,000, he said.
And with its Coach Caution program, NAAA is teaming up with the National Auctioneers Association for this training that aims “to provide useful information to each independently contracted auctioneer, to ensure the safety of the auto auction experience for everyone involved,” NAAA said on its website.
And sometimes, NAAA’s advocacy efforts takes them outside of their own organization and into partnerships. Like, the aforementioned work on Capitol Hill with dealer associations. NIADA and NAAA share a lobbyist, Hackett said.
And beyond politics, NAAA’s official magazine is published within NIADA’s magazine.
NAAA also partnered with what was then known as NADA Used Car Guide (which is now J.D. Power Valuation Services) 27 years ago to create the AuctionNet wholesale vehicle data service.
NAAA also has media partnerships, having merged its Spring Business Meeting with Bobit Business Media’s Conference of Auto Remarketing in 2009 and merging its annual Convention with Cherokee Media Group’s National Remarketing Convention in 2016.
“It’s not often that non-profits merge with for-profits and are successful at it,” Hackett said.
Speaking of the latter event, Hackett is looking forward to what’s in store for this year’s NAAA Convention, held in conjunction with the NRC during Used Car Week, which is being held Nov. 12-16 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
That includes the NAAA Welcome Luncheon featuring a keynote presentation from former Ford CEO Alan Mulally, followed by a moderated Q&A session that also features Cox Automotive president Sandy Schwartz; KAR Auction Services chairman and CEO Jim Hallett; and BSC America chairman and CEO Ray Nichols.
Plus, there will be a pedal car auction sponsored by Black Book during the NAAA President’s Gala that will raise funds for the new NAAA Disaster Relief Fund designed to help its member auctions following natural disasters.
Talk about advocating for your members.