Auction Finance Group Inc. has replaced two top executives at its Canadian Auction Group subsidiary with its own people.
On Monday, March 15, Steve Simon, chairman of Auction Finance, took over as CEO of Canadian Auction Group, a chain of 10 wholesale auto auctions based in Brampton, Ontario. He replaced President and CEO Bert Dagnon.
Simon has named Keith Lelux, an Auction Finance senior executive vice president, as president of Canadian Auction Group. He also named Andrew Hill CFO. Hill, who will continue as CFO of Auction Finance, replaces Ken Wiebe.
'We felt (Dagnon) had taken it as far as he was going to take it,' Simon said. It was time to bring in a new team with the skill levels to take Canadian Auction Group 'to the next level,' he said.
Also replaced were Scott Whittal, general manager of the group's flagship auction in Toronto, and Scott Chisholm, general manager of its auction in Moncton, New Brunswick. Simon said other Canadian Auction Group employees had left the company but would not say who.
Canadian Auction Group, with nine auctions in Canada and one in Rochester, N.Y., reported it sold 192,777 vehicles worth about $2 billion Canadian ($1.31 billion U.S. at current exchange rates) in 1998. Its largest customer is Ford of Canada Ltd.
Ron Ledbrook, Ford of Canada's direct vehicle remarketing manager, said the shake-up will not be a problem. 'As far as we're concerned at Ford of Canada, it's business as usual,' he said.
Dagnon became president and CEO of Canadian Auction Group in August 1998 when Auction Finance, a Miami Beach, Fla., holding company, purchased 80 percent of the auction chain. He previously was COO.
Simon said Dagnon's departure was amicable.
'I think Bert was ready for some other challenges elsewhere,' Simon said from the group's auction in Toronto.
Before it purchased Canadian Auction Group, Auction Finance was best known for its Auction Finance Program. The program provides floorplan financing to U.S. independent dealers.
Although Auction Finance's floorplan and auction businesses are equally profitable, Simon thinks the higher-profile auction business needs more of his attention. He said he and Lelux will split their time between Brampton and Miami Beach. Hill, along with Auction Finance's accounting department, will move to Brampton.
Simon said Dagnon's departure will not slow his expansion plans. He expects to add 12 to 15 auctions this year, including three during the next 60 days.
Simon said other expansion projects include expanding capacity at the seven-lane Toronto auction by 40 percent during the next six months.