Manheim pumps $4.6 million into Chicagoland auctions

Manheim's Grace Huang speaking at Used Car Week 2015. Huang talked with Auto Remarketing about the investments the company has made in its Chicago-area locations. Photo by Jonathan Fredin.

Manheim is amid a three-year, $4.6 million investment in its three Chicago-area auctions, the company said Thursday.

The upgrades to the auctions — Manheim Chicago, Manheim Arena Illinois and Manheim Milwaukee, which are located within 100 miles of one another — run the gamut from a new Retail Advantage facility  and increased lane capacity, to adding pavement, parking and LED lighting.

“We are looking at everything from our physical space, to our marketing programs, to innovative end-to-end inventory solutions services and tools to help our clients sell and source inventory faster, gain efficiency and drive success,” Mike Cesta, general manager of Manheim Chicago, said in a news release. “In less than a 90-minute drive, clients can easily tap our many services and inventory.”

Physical auctions play ‘vital role’

Auto Remarketing caught up with Grace Huang, senior vice president of inventory services for Manheim, to learn more about the investments.

“For us, it’s about serving our clients better,” she said in a phone interview. “And so there were several building improvements we wanted to make, including better lighting — which also was in line with our sustainability efforts — and just general improvements of our facilities, updating and so forth.”

The biggest part of the investment was the Manheim Chicago expansion, Huang said.  Last year, the auction opened a location to pilot Retail Advantage (the new name for the Retail Solutions program), which now includes eight more locations.

Manheim Chicago also increased lane capacity from 14 to 23 through double-blocking, added another Thursday sale as well as a Total Resource Auction sale.

The auction is also adding 30 acres of blacktop to its paved space to allow for more vehicles.

Additionally, Manheim Milwaukee is building a four-acre property to accommodate additional parking. That auction — along with Manheim Arena Illinois — also invested in new arena floors.

Manheim Arena Illinois also installed LED lights under its canopy to save power and give additional visibility to vehicles staged to go on the block.

Manheim Milwaukee was chosen to pilot the company’s design of the future and will be remodeled next year, part of Manheim North America’s $300 million investment into the auction network.

These investments certainly underscore the importance of the physical auction.

“The physical location will always, in my mind, play a very, very vital role, regardless of how the vehicle is transacted,” she said. “The vehicle has to sit somewhere. So we always will have physical space to help inspect, recondition, detail, image those vehicles. So, no matter how the digital market expands, there’s still a car, which we like.”

 Why Chicago?

When asked what prompted the move years ago, Huang pointed to the fact that Chicago is Manheim’s third biggest market and third largest auto market in the U.S. Not to mention, 70 percent of vehicles in the market are used, she said.

“It felt like it was a great place to, first, put Retail Advantage,” she said. “And then as the market has been picking up, the additional lane capacity and lanes and adding enhancements to our facilities for our new clients that are coming through.”

Asked whether it was a strategic competitive move with ADESA launching its Chicago auction this year, Huang said that it was more coincidental than anything. Much of the investment had been planned prior to ADESA making the announcement, Huang said.



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