Many auction companies, expecting an increase in the number of used vehicles entering the market this year, are expanding and improving their physical auction sites.
Manheim, the nation's largest auction company with 65 locations in the United States and 107 worldwide, has spent $26 million on improvements. Most of the improvements are completed and the rest will be finished within the next month or two, a Manheim spokeswoman said.
Among other things, the company has added two sales lanes at Manheim Ohio in Grove City, Ohio, and is putting the finishing touches on two new sales lanes at Manheim Baltimore-Washington in Elkridge, Md.
Manheim also is adding a 28-acre service center at Manheim Riverside in Riverside, Calif., and has doubled the size of the body shop at Manheim Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Other Manheim auctions on the improvement list: Manheim Pittsburgh in Cranberry Township, Pa.; Manheim New England in North Dighton, Mass., and Manheim Orlando in Ocoee, Fla.
"Over the past year we've made it a priority to take a close look at our operations to ensure they deliver on the needs of our customers today and in the future," Manheim COO Janet Barnard said in a statement.
Auction Broadcasting Co. of Indianapolis just built a greenfield site, ABC Baton Rouge, on 27 acres in Baton Rouge, La. The $4.2 million, six-lane site held its grand opening in July, bringing the company's auction sites to seven.
Auction Broadcasting President Jason Hockett, says the company is getting ready to expand the Baton Rouge site by 10 acres to accommodate mechanical and post-sale departments.
"Post-Hurricane Katrina, that area has just exploded. There was a real need," Hockett says. "We've already seen a tremendous amount of business in that location."
Members of ServNet Auction Group also are preparing for growth. At least five members built auction sites over the past 12 to 18 months and several expanded and improved their sites, says Richard Curtis, executive vice president of industry relations at ServNet.
One of the newest ServNet members, DAA Seattle in Auburn, Wash., held its grand opening in June. The six-lane site is owned by Bob McConkey and Greg Mahugh of Spokane and specializes in selling vehicles owned by dealers.
ServNet Auctions is a group of 32 independent auto auctions that work together to provide dealers, manufacturers, financial institutions and other remarketers with full auction services, such as reconditioning and online sales technology. By banding together, members seek to offset some of the scale advantages of auction giants such as Manheim and ADESA.
Says Patty Stanley, ServNet president-elect and co-owner of Carolina Auto Auction in Anderson, S.C. and Indiana Auto Auction in Fort Wayne, Ind.: "We're doing greenfield sites, we're doing expansions, it's been a good year and we are ready to take the future on."