The National Auto Auction Association supports federal title-branding legislation to prevent rebuilt wrecked vehicles from being resold with 'clean' titles.
That will be a major issue during the group's 51st annual convention Wednesday, Sept. 1, through Sunday, Sept. 5, in Chicago, said Don DeVries, association president.
Title-branding legislation backers say the used-vehicle industry and consumers are cheated when rebuilt wrecks are bought and sold unknowingly as undamaged vehicles.
'It will be brought up during legislative committee meetings,' said DeVries, who owns Greater Kalamazoo Auto Auction in Schoolcraft, Mich. 'It's in the Senate now. We're hoping it will be passed by the end of the year and implemented next spring.'
DeVries steps down as association president during the convention. Henry Stanley, owner of Carolina Auto Auction in An-derson, S.C., will take over.
Auto auction executives agree that these are good times for the industry. More than 16 million vehicles were offered for sale in the association's 285 member auctions in 1998; gross sales exceeded $70 billion.
'When times are good for the used-car industry, times are good for auctions,' said Dennis Berry, CEO of Manheim Auctions in Atlanta. 'Auctions worked over the years to become faster and smarter, and we're seeing some of that paying off.'
Manheim owns 87 auctions.
Still, Berry and other auto auction executives say keeping up with technology, modernizing reconditioning centers and providing better customer service are keys to continued success.
Lynn Weaver, chairman of the association's Independent Auto Auction Advisory Committee and an owner of Harrisburg Auto Auction in Mechanicsburg, Pa., said keeping up with the times is even more crucial for independent auction owners. He said large consignors conduct much of their business online. If independent auctions expect to compete, they must have the technology to send and receive data.
Jim Hallett, president of Adesa Corp. in Indianapolis, said the auto auction industry must improve and provide what he calls 'outrageous' customer service. Reconditioning centers must be modernized, transportation service must become more timely and getting vehicles sold and titled must become more efficient. Adesa owns 30 auctions.
Tony Moorby, president of ADT Automotive Inc., said auto auctions should do more to promote their role as providers of quality used vehicles for consumers. ADT is in Nashville, Tenn., and owns 28 auctions.
'I'd like to see a universal policy adopted by the association where we check vehicle history for 10 years,' Moorby said. 'Not for dented fenders, but for major frame damage.'