Steve Marlow fits the mold of a typical ServNet Auction Group member.
He has more than 15 years experience in the auction business, embraces the group's hands-on management style and is committed to superior customer service.
Marlow, 39, became president of the ServNet Auction Group in November.
ServNet consists of 21 independently owned wholesale auto auctions throughout the United States.
Its services include floorplanning, Internet sales, market reports, training, corporate events and a newsletter.
'You walk into a ServNet auction, and you'll shake the hand of the owner, not a manager,' said Marlow, who also is president and general manager of the Idaho Auto Auction in Boise. 'That's our strength; we have years of ownership and experience. It's our niche and our competitive advantage.'
Though ServNet does not release sales numbers, Harry Beyer, the group's director of sales and marketing, said ServNet members sold 12 percent of the approximately 9 million vehicles sold at auction in 2000.
As its new president, Marlow is focusing his attention on ServNet's sales and marketing efforts.
ServNet last year hired a national sales manager to help develop accounts for member auctions and to work with established clients.
Also, all ServNet auctions have access to 'OnLine Ringman,' Internet technology that enables dealers to bid on and purchase vehicles offered at ServNet auctions online.
'We have to make sure our names are out front,' Marlow said. 'The goal is to become a more effective player in the marketplace.'
At the same time, he said, ServNet auctions should accommodate all its customers, including the dealers who may buy or sell as few as one or two vehicles a week.
Many of those customers are not technology savvy and do not have e-mail access. Yet, they are the backbone of the auction industry, Marlow said.
'It's the customer who comes every week and buys or sells one car that is important,' he said.
'We can't forget we still have those people who rely on us; we can't lose sight of those guys in a rush to technology.'
Marlow started in the auction business as a teen-ager. His father, Jerry, and his father's partner, Nick Drzayich, owned Tri-Cities Auto Auction of Pasco, Wash. Marlow worked there part-time, checking in vehicles and learning reconditioning and detailing.
It was not until his father and Drzayich established Puget Sound Auto Auction in Auburn, Wash. - now owned by ADESA Corp. - that Marlow developed a love for the business.
That was 1981. Jerry Marlow stayed behind to manage the Pasco auc-tion and sent his 19-year-old son to help Drzayich create the new auction.
'I had the opportunity to do everything,' Marlow said. 'I helped with the design of the building, hire the crew and create policy and procedures. I didn't have final say, but I had a lot of the responsibility helping bring the process to the table. We took a cow pasture and turned it into an auto auction. '
In 1985, Jerry Marlow and Drzayich bought the Idaho Auto Auction. A year later, they sold Tri-Cities and Puget Sound auctions to Anglo American Auto Auctions, which later became ADT Auctions Inc. before being bought by Manheim Auctions in 2000. As part of that deal, Jerry Marlow ended up as sole owner of the Idaho auction.
In the meantime, Steve Marlow joined Anglo-American and worked at its Golden Gate Auto Auction and then at Puget Sound, both times as sales manager. In 1988, he moved to Boise to help his father operate Idaho Auto Auction.
Steve Marlow said the Idaho auction started as a small sale with two lanes at another location.
Today, it has six lanes; the business just finished laying 30 acres of new asphalt and plans to open a 17,000-square-foot reconditioning shop in March.
The auction averages about 1,250 vehicles a week. Its major accounts include General Motors, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Bank of America and Key Bank.