Eric Autenrieth and Craig Amelung see security and workforce recruitment as some of the top issues facing the auto remarketing industry today. They also see those as top issues at their own auctions.

“The biggest issue is security for us,” said Autenrieth, who is CEO of the Stanley-Autenrieth Auction Group. “You’ve got different rings that are going around that will break in and drive out six, seven, eight cars and just joyride, and then you find the cars a week later.”

In addition to being executive officers for the National Auto Auction Association board of directors, Autenrieth and Amelung also hold leadership positions at their companies. Autenrieth will become NAAA president at the upcoming NAAA World Remarketing Convention, which will take place Sept. 26-28 in Chicago. Amelung will become NAAA president-elect at the convention and is general manager of Manheim’s Mid-Atlantic Market Center.

As NAAA marks its 75th anniversary, Autenrieth said the association has rebranded this year’s event as the NAAA World Remarketing Convention. That rebranding “speaks to our global impact with our international members and how NAAA represents and brings together the very best and the gold standard of the remarking industry, so we have a lot of really good content for this session,” he said.

The upcoming NAAA World Remarketing Convention will cover security, EVs, workforce development and additional topics such as trends in financing and fleet management and rental consignor trends.

Vigilance encouraged: Criminals honing their craft

Amelung also emphasized that security theme, mentioning re-cloning as one issue facing the industry. He explained that criminals will steal a vehicle and then place a different vehicle identification number on it.

“So if it shows up, the public VIN will show as a VIN that’s not reported as stolen, and so there’s ways that we can try and figure some of that out, but right now that is a big piece of some of the auto theft that’s going on out there in the market,” Amelung said. The National Insurance Crime Bureau will address fraud issues at the NAAA event.

“The criminals just continue to get better at what they do, whether it’s recloning vehicles or the theft and everything that’s going on with that, so this is a topic that is carrying more weight with the NAAA,” Amelung said. “It’s costing our member auctions billions of dollars across the country, and so we are trying to do everything we can to get ahold of that.”

The convention will feature a session titled, “Theft Prevention and Security Best Practices.” Panelists will include Rusty Russell, director of operations—vehicles, for the National Insurance Crime Bureau; Tim Massingale, VP, environmental, health and safety for OPENLANE; Chad Anderson, general manager for Greater Rockford Auto Auction; and David Reeder, senior director, physical security and operations, for Cox.

Session preview: The Economists’ Corner

A session on the event schedule is titled, “The Economist’s Corner: How Economic Conditions and Market Factors are Influencing Automotive Trends.” Tom Kontos is chief economist for ADESA, and he provided a preview as to what he expects to discuss as part of that panel, which will also include Cox Automotive chief economist Jonathan Smoke and NADA chief economist Patrick Manzi.

Kontos said prices and volumes in the wholesale used vehicle market are his areas of focus, and he plans to discuss at the event whether softening of wholesale values will continue for the rest of the year.

“And then on volumes, it’s a more long-term question: When are we going to start seeing more repos, more rentals, more off-lease, more fleet, and more dealer-consigned vehicles?” Kontos said.

So, what are the answers to those questions?

“I think the price softening will be more gradual this year, but it will be a continuation of what we’ve seen the last couple of months, which is a downturn,” said Kontos in an interview with Auto Remarketing in late July.

“So, they will continue to soften the rest of the year, but maybe a less-dramatic rate than what we saw in May and June,” he said.

As for volumes, he said an uptick in repo volumes could be on the way, noting that he refers to repos as “the first responder to tough economic conditions.”

Regarding segments such as rentals, off-lease, fleet and dealer consignment, “there’s not as much room for them to pop up significantly, for a while at least,” Kontos said.

2 sessions address importance of EVs

Kirsten Von Busch, product marketing director for the Experian Automotive team, will speak on “Key insights into the EV market and commercial EV sales.” Another session will cover “EV management: safety best practices for auctions and remarketers.”

Amelung said he and Autenrieth were scheduled to travel to Detroit in July to meet with OEMs, focusing on EV safety with a goal to hear what OEMs doing in that area as they design and build the vehicles.

“When you have a new vehicle that has a $7,500 tax credit versus a used vehicle that … you’re not necessarily going to get that tax credit, [there are] things that we just have to address with that,” Amelung said.

Workforce recruitment

Recruitment challenges continue as a top issue for the industry, and the NAAA event will cover that with a session titled, “Workforce Development Spotlight: Understanding Generational Differences in the Workforce to Maximize Performance.” Amelung said in addition to experiencing challenges in finding mechanics, body technicians and painters, many industry members rely on retirees when it comes to hiring drivers.

“A lot of us when it comes to our driver base, especially our sale day driver base, we’ve relied on that retired segment of the market to really help drive our sale day process,” he said.

As some of those drivers leave the market, some of the younger generations are not as engaged, Amelung said, so the industry is still seeing a challenge in recruiting for those positions. That goes for other positions as well, such as body and paint technicians, which Amelung said was becoming “a little bit of a lost art.”

Other event highlights

Melinda Zabritski, senior director for Experian Automotive’s financial solutions team, will present on “The State of Auto Finance Plus Wholesale and Retail Trends.”

Among the other sessions is one on “Fleet Management and Rental Consignor Trends, Sentiments, and Remarketing Outlook.”

Fun is also planned as the Sept. 28 dinner will include a performance by Second City Entertainment, which is a group of entertainers that in the past included “Saturday Night Live “alumni John Belushi and Gilda Radner.

Keynote speaker is Jesse Cole, owner of Fans First Entertainment, which owns and operates the exhibition baseball team, the Savannah Bananas. The Bananas were a collegiate summer baseball league team that transitioned to become an exhibition team that now features dancing players and additional off-beat rules and attractions.

Autenrieth said the Bananas’ customer experience has created energy and a waiting list for tickets at every game.

“So, they’re doing something right, and in reality, when you look at the energy that they bring … we kind of have that energy in a live auction environment,” he said.