ADESA welcomes new president

Fast facts
Who: Brian Warner

Position: President, ADESA Corp.

Age: 35

Self-description: Team builder

Quote: "My role is to build a great team and then get out of their way."

ADESA Corp. CEO Jim Hallett, 48, said he always has been able to count on Brian Warner.

In 1997, when Hallett needed someone to revamp the company's poorest performing auction site, he sent Warner to the rescue. In less than 18 months, the site went from being $3 million in the red to earning a substantial profit.

When the Indianapolis-based company needed someone to manage the expansion of its then three-auction Canadian operations in 1998, Hallett again called on Warner. ADESA Canada now operates 13 auto auctions and 12 salvage auctions.

On Oct. 1, the energetic Warner, 35, became president of ADESA Corp.

ADESA is the nation's second-largest wholesale auto auction company, operating 54 auction sites and 24 salvage auction sites in the United States and Canada.

Hallett said it was his decision, with the blessings of parent company ALLETE, to appoint Warner as president. Hallett said he and Warner work well together yet have different management styles.

"Brian is more strategic," he said. "I'm more entrepreneurial; I shoot from the hip."

Said Warner: "Jim has been a mentor for me throughout my career. We sat in the foxhole together for a long time."

New strategies

In his new position, Warner will oversee the company's existing operations, which include same-store growth, improving efficiencies and processes in existing stores, and bringing new strategies and perspectives to the company. In addition, Warner will fine-tune the merging of the nine auction sites ADESA acquired when the former ADT Automotive Inc. was sold last year.

Warner describes himself as a team builder. "My role is to build a great team and then get out of their way," he said.

Hallett, who held the title of president, said the management restructuring frees him to expand the company's salvage auction business, take more time with the company's Canadian operations and explore other business opportunities.

He also is an executive vice president of ALLETE, a diversified company based in Duluth, Minn.

"We've grown a great salvage company; I'm going to facilitate the consolidation of the salvage business and may look for opportunities outside of our core business," Hallett said.

ADESA already has made significant progress into the salvage business, also known as total loss recovery.

In January, ADESA purchased Auto Placement Center, headquartered in East Providence, R.I. Through ADESA Canada, it also purchased Impact Salvage Auction in Mississauga, Ontario, in 2000. In an effort to solidify its position as a major player in salvage auctions, ADESA, in August, renamed Auto Placement Center ADESA Impact.

Hallett declined to say what other business opportunities interest him but added, "there won't be any rocks we won't look under."

A succession plan

Warner's new position puts a succession plan in place for the company. But Hallett pointed out that he isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

ALLETE President David Gartzke "has appointed me chairman of ADESA; I'm still the CEO and will be very much involved with ADESA and in the industry," Hallett said.

Dale Hewitt, former COO at ADESA Canada, now is president of that company.

Warner, who has a bachelor's degree in accounting and management information systems from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., joined ADESA in the United States in 1995 as corporate controller, after acting as the company's independent auditor with Ernst & Young. He said he has been working closely with Hallett since 1996.

"It's a change of roles; I'm excited about having Brian here in the United States," Hallett said. "I have a philosophy that management should change; it should turn over. When senior management is in a job for too long, I don't think it's healthy for the company."

You can reach Arlena Sawyers at

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