Auto Auction Reflects Owner’s Attitude

By Jeffrey Bellant April 26, 2020
Chad Bailey the president of Akron Auto Auction added some Ohio flair to his safety protocols by producing his own masks Chad Bailey the president of Akron Auto Auction added some Ohio flair to his safety protocols by producing his own masks


Cable news and economic updates look grim in this era of COVID-19.

But don’t tell Chad Bailey. The president of Akron Auto Auction, known for his energy and enthusiasm, is bringing those traits to defy the pessimism permeating the business world now.

His sale is moving forward while his staff is fashioned in Ohio-sports-themed face masks made by a family member.

It’s been a quick turnaround since the coronavirus outbreak slammed the country, causing Bailey to hit the brakes.

“We just took a deep breath in the first week of April,” he said. “We went home, took a step back and took the week off. We let everybody get their sanity back.

“Then we started to put together a game plan.”

Since then, Bailey’s continued to tweak and modify the game plan so the auction could go from crawling to walking to running again. At the same time, the business continues to focus on safety.

Akron Auto Auction is using all the Center for Disease Control guidelines to protect its workers, Bailey said.

“Obviously, everyone is socially distancing and in the office we have Plexiglass up everywhere,” Bailey said. “We have digital gun thermometers so we can make sure people who come in the building (don’t have a fever).”

Bailey also uses a product called PermaSafe, a vehicle disinfectant, that’s another layer of safety for dealers.

Bailey, board chairman of the National Auto Auction Association, is also implementing a checklist system for when it becomes safe for dealers to come into the lanes. It will allow dealers to fill out online forms in advance to state they don’t have symptoms and follow all the CDC guidelines. It’s one less step they’ll have to do when they come in the building.

“It’s like a pre-screening,” he said. “It allows us to keep a paper trail. We’ve been pro-active.”

The auction had a visit from the Health Department when someone complained they had too many people in the building.

“I’m glad they came,” Bailey said. “They saw how we had everything set up and everything labeled. It’s the best PR I could get. I’m not worried at all. We’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve got deputy sheriffs who work here on sale day. If I wasn’t allowed to be open, they wouldn’t be allowed to be here.”

As result of Bailey’s methodical planning, the auction is gaining momentum.

“We are doing online, all digital, at the moment,”
Bailey said. “We’re using Auction Edge, which is Edge ASI  and Pipeline. We use Velocicast for (simulcast).”

Akron has gone an extra step in allowing dealers to come, check out the cars and test-drive them on Friday and Monday, before Tuesday’s sale.

“We ran every other week, pretty much, for April, because of the uncertainty and trying to get stuff organized.,” he said. “(April 21) we ran 1,130 cars and sold 650.

“It was awesome.”

Going forward, Bailey was planning to hold a sale every week.

“I’ll have probably an 800-car sale on (April 28) without any repos,” Bailey said.

Unlike other states, Ohio didn’t prohibit car sales when the state shut down.

“The governor wouldn’t commit to sales being essential or not,” said Wendy Rinehart, executive director of the Ohio Independent Automobile Dealers Association. “He let the business owners decide for themselves and follow CDC guidelines.”

To protect its drivers – who are typically older retirees – Akron Auto Auction has used-car haulers and repo haulers to pick up cars.

Bailey said since lenders are being discouraged from repossessions, the repo haulers have fewer vehicles to pick up – i.e. less work. Akron hires them to pick the vehicles up that its own drivers would have done in the past.

The game plan seemed to be working at a recent sale.

“My big new-car dealers – between the three of them    consigned about 450 cars and were over an 80 percent (conversion rate),” Bailey said.

There weren’t just dumping cars in the lanes, Bailey said.

“They were selling over 80 percent because what they wanted, they got, and even more,” he said.

The values still took a hit in the current market.

The average selling price was $4,550 on April 21, lower than his typical $6,500 block price.

Bailey also has his own floorplan company, which is considered an essential business, allowing him to provide dealers with another service.

He has added some Ohio flair to his safety protocols.

Bailey said two family members –related to his uncle, a former owner of the auction – are connected to a sewing shop.

When the whole issue of face masks came up, Bailey had an idea.

“We have a Jo-Ann Fabrics by us, so I think I ordered enough fabric to cover a football field,” Bailey said. “I got Cleveland Browns, Cavs and Indians (designs) along with patriotic stuff. I shipped them all to (the sewing shop).”

The masks have the elastic bands as well as the metal tabs to form around the nose for safety, he said. They also have the filters that can be replaced in the mask.

“So now everybody is wearing them,” Bailey said. “There are really good things going on at Akron.”

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Last modified on Monday, 27 April 2020 03:06

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