The auto auction industry is a fiercely competitive one, but in times of crisis, it tends to pull together for the greater good of the business.
That’s what Frank Hackett, chief executive officer of the National Auto Auction Association, has observed through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
For the last two Mondays, Hackett has joined a teleconference call, where leaders from ADESA, Manheim and the independent auctions come together to discuss best practices and plans for responding to the pandemic.
“Here’s an industry that we're so competitive, but yet willing to aside (that) and share the best practices for the best interests of the industry,” Hackett said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Last week, Hackett said he received a phone call from Manheim leadership, asking if he would join in on a call with ADESA leadership. Hackett suggested they bring in independents, as well.
And thus, a weekly teleconference was born.
In the first meeting, Manheim and ADESA shared their respective COVID-19 response plans, where they had a flow chart of exposure scenarios and step-by-step responses. Those plans were shared with independent auctions for best practices purposes.
The auctions also discussed the postponement of the Conference of Automotive Remarketing, working-from-home plans, employee plans and so forth.
And the group on the call continues to grow.
“Everybody’s represented,” Hackett said.
NAAA has also brought in its general counsel, Tom Lynch, for the calls to help interpret state government decrees.
“Because since our meeting last week, what was found was, when a governor in a state would issue a directive to people of that state, we had to start interpreting those directives,” Hackett said.
“And so, we were being asked as an association to start to interpret those directives and we were trying to provide as much response as we could. We did find that the National Governors Association has a website, which also has those directives as they come out. But not every directive is saying whether (that directive applies to) a gathering of 50 people, 250 people, 10 people,” Hackett said. “So, we've been interpreting those for the auctions in individual states and trying to help them with that information."
Lynch has also outlined his concerns and recommendations, Hackett said.
“In particular, if a governor issues a directive, what's important for the auction to do — if they're not able to interpret what that meant, because in many cases, the governor is not, in that directive, speaking specifically about an auto auction --— is to call the governor's office or to call OSHA or to call the health department to make that determination whether or not the auction falls into that category,” Hackett said.
“And at the same time, he's recommending that the auction has someone who's creating a chronological diary with all the due diligence and efforts that we're making each day as we're dealing with this, so that we do have a record in the auction, as we're dealing with taking precautions,” he said.
Hackett also shared some other notes of importance to the industry:
- NAAA has also dedicated much of its website to COVID-19 announcements, CDC precautions and similar messaging. See www.naaa.com for more.
- Hackett did not provide specifics, but did note that there was a confirmed positive test for coronavirus for an employee of an auction and an announcement regarding that was sent Monday.
- NAAA is also being mindful of the elderly, as many of the drivers at auto auctions are of advanced age. Hackett estimates the auto auction industry is one of the largest employers of that age bracket in the U.S.
- Auctions continue to emphasize keeping facilities as clean as possible and maintaining social distancing for all people at the auction.
Lastly, the various parties in the auction industry are in communication with one another.
“I wouldn’t have expected it to be any other way. Everybody talking to everybody, which makes this industry so unique ... It's not every man for himself,” Hackett said. “It's an association that, in my opinion, is very competitive, but yet, they worry about each other and I think that's what makes us different.”