When hurricanes Harvey and Irma threw a one-two punch into America's Gulf Coast in August and September, catastrophic response teams for two auto salvage auctions leaped into action.
Copart Inc. and Insurance Auto Auctions Inc., a subsidiary of KAR Auction Services Inc., which is also the parent of auction giant ADESA, had geared up special teams days before Harvey made landfall in Texas and Irma tore through Florida.
"As soon as a storm has a name and a path, we're on it," said Jeanene O'Brien, IAA senior vice president of global marketing. IAA teams look at any U.S. mainland area that could be affected before a hurricane makes landfall. The rule: "Don't wait for it to hit."
More importantly, both companies have been preparing for natural disasters for decades. They have built infrastructure, secured tracts of land for emergency use and beefed up capacity and technology for their catastrophic response specialist teams, known informally as "cat" teams.
And over the past decade, even as online auctions grew, each has almost doubled the number of its physical auction sites: Copart to 175 U.S. auctions, IAA to more than 165.