2021 ALL STAR | REMARKETING
Grace Huang had been president of Manheim for just a couple years when the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S.
As leader of one of two wholesale auction vehicle giants in the U.S., Huang was tasked with what to do with operations — which typically involved many people crowded together — in an era that would soon be known for social distancing.
Luckily, Huang had already been pushing Cox Automotive’s Manheim further into the digital future. While she has credited leaders before her for laying the groundwork, Huang was at the helm when Manheim invested more than $100 million in its digital capabilities from 2018 to 2019.
Before the pandemic prompted an abrupt — but ultimately temporary — shift to all-digital auctions, Manheim ended 2019 with about half of its sales going to all digital buyers.
So, in March 2020, when Huang and the auction company had to make crucial decisions quickly, they were prepared for a huge switch to all-digital sales — made in just a matter of days. It was a massive organizational undertaking.
Consider, for example, the necessary movement of vehicles, titling and other business surrounding wholesale sales.
This all-digital setup would be in place for about three months before Manheim began allowing buyers back into lanes in limited numbers. And it would be several more months before the company began to pilot vehicles running down lanes at select locations.
This year, as the coronavirus has continued to ebb and flow in the U.S., Huang, 46, has ensured that Manheim keeps operations running while adhering to local, state and federal guidelines aimed at limiting spread.
Times have been turbulent, but Huang’s leadership has given the sense that Manheim has been firmly in control of them.