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MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — During the summer of last year, Bob Graham, ARI's director of vehicle remarketing, was inducted as president of the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance.

During his two-year term, Graham plans to help grow membership, ensure the association's financial stability and raise the bar for IARA's meetings and roundtables by promoting professional and value-added content.

Graham also plans to work with the NAAA to address the certification issue in open sales, move forward with technology initiatives, increase the visibility of the IARA, finalize the continuing education piece for the certified program, and possibly select a permanent city (or two) for the association's summer roundtable meetings.

"My vision for the IARA is continued growth and having the alliance mature into the industry force it can and should become," he said. "The IARA has some of the best talent from the consignor, auction and industry partner segments that you can find. We need to get that message out along with a message of transparency and cooperation to those who haven't joined yet. Having every player in the remarketing industry with a voice through the IARA is the ultimate goal."

As IARA's president, Graham will also work with the leadership of auctions and other industry associations, providing continued value for the membership along with conducting monthly board meetings.

"As the industry changes and evolves, the needs and priorities of both remarketers and our industry partners change as well," Graham said. "The IARA takes a lead role in identifying key issues and working with its membership to effect changes that will benefit not only remarketers but the auctions and buyers as well. Through education, cooperation and open communication with all industry partners, IARA drives value to the bottom line of its members."

Graham Brings a Strong Vehicle Remarketing Background to IARA

As ARI's director of vehicle remarketing, Graham provides the strategic direction and vision to the remarketing area to assure maximum sales results for ARI's clients and to increase revenue streams through value-added services and other business opportunities.

Developing an exceptional staff and maintaining remarketing industry partnerships and relationships is also a major focus of his daily responsibilities, along with managing the used-vehicle inventory and keeping the company in compliance with all laws and policies.

ARI, a subsidiary of Holman Enterprises, based in Mt. Laurel, N.J., is an industry leader and the largest privately held fleet leasing and management company in the world. As a single-source fleet management leader, ARI customizes innovative solutions that streamline fleet operations, help lower the cost of fleet ownership and create long-term value for customers.

Today, with a work force numbering more than 1,400 and offices throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Europe, the company manages more than 2,000 outsourced fleets (more than 650,000 autos and trucks) in North America and, combined with its strategic partners, more than 1.5 million global fleet vehicles.

It was in 2005 when Graham realized that it was important for ARI to join the IARA.

"I watched the alliance and attended the association's meetings for several years as it developed from its infancy, which was a group of mostly import manufacturers, to an alliance that represented the interests of remarketers from every segment of the industry," Graham said.

"When I saw the focus was on high-level initiatives like frame, arbitration and standardization, in general, that would help not only the remarketers but our auction partners as well, I knew that I wanted ARI to have a voice."

IARA Membership Benefits Graham and His Company

Since joining IARA more than four years ago, he said the benefits reaped have made the cost of membership more than worthwhile. Not only does Graham get the personal benefit of brainstorming with the best remarketers in the industry on critical industry topics, but he also gathers invaluable information to keep up-to-date and knowledgeable, allowing him to make important decisions that impact the sale of ARI's clients' vehicles.

"My company gets the benefit of the efficiencies that can be created by standardizing or improving the remarketing process," Graham said. "These efficiencies translate into reduced days to sell, lower total transaction costs and a better net return to our clients."

Graham added that while being a member of IARA has met all of his expectations, he believes that what an individual puts into their membership is an indicator of what they will get out of it.

"Members who just pay their dues and come to the meetings will automatically get value based on the great networking opportunities and the results the alliance has and will continue to achieve," he said. "But those who have a passion and join a committee or the board of directors and get directly involved get the opportunity to help shape the direction of our industry, and that's where the real rewards lie."

In fact, when Graham was initially invited to join the board of directors, he didn't realize the importance of the position at the time. He initially accepted the position because he thought it would be a good way to give back to the industry that he's enjoyed for the past 36 years.

But once on the board, Graham found that his opinions and feedback, like every board member, were an important part of the process to drive tangible change and improvement in the industry.

"Even when my opinion is the minority, it gets heard and considered, which I think is one of the strengths of the IARA," he said. "Being on the board allows us the opportunity to move the industry forward — sometimes by an inch and sometimes by a mile — but there is nothing more rewarding than being part of the process."

Graham Gains Tangible Results Through IARA Membership and Participation

Since Graham's company has had a voice in working through most of the initiatives that IARA has undertaken, ARI has incorporated almost all of those initiatives.

The company has adopted both the NAAA frame and arbitration policies after they made changes based on the IARA feedback. Adopting these policies at ARI has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars that were previously lost in bad frame calls or unnecessary arbitration, according to Graham. It has also simplified the company's internal processes and communication with partner auctions, as well as helped get ARI all on the same page, thus reducing time and avoiding unnecessary conflict with the buyers.

"We have used data from the IARA standards committee to help set goals and drive efficiency in a number of segments of the remarketing process, helping us reduce our overall days to sell," Graham added.

He also pointed out the importance of attending the annual IARA conference, especially those who aren't on a committee or on the board.

"The two annual conferences are the best places to have your voice heard on industry topics," Graham said. "The educational programs and roundtable discussions are some of the best in the industry, and everyone who attends comes away better informed at the very least and often comes away with tangible ways to improve their companies' remarketing process or bottom line."

The winter IARA conference is aligned with both the CAR conference and the NAAA quad zone meeting, which provide more layers of networking and education while saving travel expenses.

Graham underscores that IARA's value to the industry at large is undeniable, as it provides a forum where remarketers can discuss and work on the important issues of the day in a cooperative environment with each other and with the auction community.

"Its members represent millions of vehicles, so the size of the alliance is now large enough that it has a real voice in the industry," Graham said. "The IARA has several outstanding and dynamic committees that help lead the way with standards, technology and education. One of the best things the alliance has done was to establish the Certified Automotive Remarketer program."

He also advises that remarketers join IARA because of the real value provided, especially to consigners who have large portfolios of vehicles. 

"Adopting one new policy or change that reduces a few days from your process or increases your net return by a few hundred dollars quickly translates into hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in overall savings to your company," he said. "If you're not a consignor, typically they are your customers in some fashion, and there is no better place to work with your customers toward a common goal than in the open environment of the IARA."

Through this 20-segment educational program, qualified individuals can become certified remarketers similar to ASE-certified technicians or CAFM-certified fleet managers. Graham emphasizes that this designation will grow to be a valuable differentiator for those who have studied and passed all the courses.

"I have all of ARI's remarketers enrolled in the program and foresee the day when it will be the first question asked when hiring a new remarketer from the outside," he added.

While IARA is still relatively young and growing into its role as an industry force, Graham believes now is the best time to join and get in on the ground floor.

"The remarketing industry is obviously in an exciting and sometimes confusing period of change with the economy, technology, transportation and education," Graham said. "There is no better time than now to get involved in leading and shaping that change, and there is no better venue to do it than the IARA."