ATLANTA - Manheim Auctions, the largest North American wholesale auto auction firm, is launching a five-year capital improvement program and exporting its name overseas for the first time.
The five-year capital improvement program is part of a drive to turn Manheim's auctions into 'dealer supercenters' that provide financial and computer advice and products in addition to traditional auction services such as reconditioning, said Manheim President Dennis Berry in a briefing at the company's headquarters here.
Berry said Manheim will spend $413 million to upgrade its auctions and computer systems over the next five years. Manheim will add reconditioning capacity, computer systems and software and auction lanes at the rate of about 15 per year over the period. That figure does not include money the company will spend to purchase auctions.
As part of that investment, Manheim is pouring $20 million this year into computer systems alone. 'This year is a major booster rocket shot in technology,' said Darryll Ceccoli, Manheim COO.
Among the technology projects is AutoConnect, the used-car Web site Manheim created with the Dealer Services Group of Automatic Data Processing Inc. of Hoffman Estates, Ill. Others include Manheim Online, the company's computerized price guide, sales system and vehicle locator; and its Tracker software for independent dealers.
In its last five-year plan, Manheim spent $253 million on capital improvement. That included complete rebuilds of five auctions, 76 new lanes and upgrades for 30 reconditioning shops.
Separately, Manheim is preparing to rebadge 17 auctions it owns in the United Kingdom as Manheim UK, said Berry. The name should be changed this fall, said John Bailey, CEO of Independent Car Auctions Holdings, Manheim's partner in the United Kingdom. Manheim UK will look for more auctions in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe, said Ralph Liniado, senior vice president of development at Manheim.
Two years ago, Manheim invested $20 million to plant its flag in the United Kingdom by joining with Independent to buy another auction company, Central Motor Auctions. The partners have acquired two other auction companies.
Manheim reported revenues of $1 billion in 1997 and estimates the figure will increase to $1.1 billion in 1998. Gross value of vehicles sold was $28 billion for 1997 and is projected to be $30.3 billion this year. Manheim has 65 auctions in North America.