As president of the National Auto Auction Association, Eric Autenrieth knows that security issues are affecting the auction industry in more ways than just theft of vehicles or catalytic converters.

Criminals are tapping into bank accounts. They are stealing usernames and passwords.

“You don’t know about it … for 30 days, and by then the car is gone, the title is gone, the criminal is gone and you’re left holding the bag … the empty bag,” Autenrieth said.

The upcoming NAAA Total Access Spring Business Meeting will feature a session on that topic titled, “Fraud: Trends, Detection and Prevention.”

Ben Puckett, president of Auction Insurance Agency, will moderate the session, and areas of discussion will include “checks, titles, and other schemes, and what to look out for and how to catch it.”

Autenrieth and his company, Stanley Autenrieth Auction Group, have seen the consequences of fraud first-hand. In one instance, someone was able to hack a dealer’s e-mail.

“They pretended to be the dealership, and funds were wired, and they were wired to the wrong location,” Autenrieth said.

Fraud like that is among various topics on the agenda for the Total Access meeting, which will take place Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in Las Vegas. Presenters will also cover topics such as “how to survive and thrive in a multigenerational workplace,” “women in the lanes,” and artificial intelligence.

Security: Criminals’ methods and catalytic converters

Autenrieth is CEO of Stanley-Autenrieth Auction Group, which consists of Indiana Auto Auction and Carolina Auto Auction, and he said the dealer e-mail hacking incident he mentioned earlier was a learning experience. Now that the auction group is aware of it, the company has taken steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“But that’s not to say these criminals don’t come up with another method, and so we need to be as aware as possible in all regards,” Autenrieth said.
Educating people through events like the Total Access meeting can help bring awareness to that and other issues, and the meeting takes place in conjunction with NADA Show 2024, which is the National Automobile Dealers Association’s annual convention.

Autenrieth said the leadership of NAAA and NADA are in unison, adding that through the partnership, NAAA members at the Total Access meetings can meet with some customers in person in addition to participating in business meetings.

NAAA continues to work with NADA in another area of security: the Preventing Auto Recycling Theft Act, or PART Act, which makes stealing catalytic converters a federal crime.

“We have partnered with NADA in support of that bill and so we stayed in close contact with them and we continue to support that bill, and so the PART Act is … the biggest legislative piece that both of us are … working on together at the moment,” said NAAA public affairs manager Max Cole.

Cole said NAAA and NADA are working to get committee meetings to get the bill moving and recruit co-sponsors as Congress is dealing with many other priorities.

An NADA issue brief on the bill states that catalytic converters are not currently one of the 18 vehicle parts required to be marked with a VIN or number traceable to a VIN. NADA writes that the PART Act requires new vehicles to have unique, traceable identifying numbers stamped on catalytic converters at the time of assembly.

AI: Worth the cost for the industry?

Artificial intelligence is a new topic of discussion for the upcoming Total Access meeting, but Autenrieth describes it as a “hot button” topic, with the technology coming out in areas such as condition report writing and picture taking. It could become “a big player for us in the future,” he said. On the other end, it could be cost-prohibitive for some auctions.

“But for others it might be a cost savings, so [I’m] interested to really see what Chuck Redden as a moderator is able to speak of,” Autenrieth said.

The session is titled, “The Practical Implications of Artificial Intelligence,” and Redden is chief executive officer of AutoTec and its affiliate companies: Auction Insurance Agency, AutoCheck Auctions, VIN CrossCheck, Centennial Casualty Company and AuctionACCESS. Additional panelists are Dale Pollak, who is founder of vAuto and executive vice president for Cox Automotive; and Ben Flusberg, chief data officer for Cox Automotive.

Women in the lanes

The Total Access meeting will cover more than just security, with one session highlighting the career paths of some of its female leaders.

“And it’s led by probably the most impactful female in our industry right now, Grace Huang with Cox Automotive,” Autenrieth said. Huang is president of Cox Automotive Inventory Solutions.

The panel is titled, “Women in the Lanes: Career Paths for Women in the Wholesale Auto Auction Industry,” and participants will provide career development advice to attendees.

“Females within our industry are a select few, and so we obviously want to be more diverse than that,” Autenrieth said. The session, he said, will serve to “hear their voice and what they’ve done, what they’ve accomplished and to lead that next generation of female leaders within our industry.”

Thriving with different generations

The Jan. 31 keynote session of the Total Access meeting is titled, “The Remix: How to Survive and Thrive in a Multigenerational Workplace.” Speaker for the session is Lindsey Pollak, who is a best-selling author and whose bio states that she has been described as a “generational translator.”

The description for the session from NAAA states that leaders must balance a generation gap of multiple decades between the oldest and youngest employees.

Autenrieth said he and NAAA were excited to have the session on the agenda for the Total Access meeting.

“As we look to identify and train and promote the next generation of leaders within our association and within our industry, it’s a great topic for us to bring Lindsey in and be able to discuss, whether you’re an independent auction and you’re training the third generation at the family auction or whether you’re at one of the chains and you’re working on that 20- or 30-year- old something to help get them to that next level, this is a great workshop that Lindsey will be putting on,” Autenrieth said.