NAAA Turns 75…Like Me

By Tony Moorby September 18, 2023

The National Auto Auction Association was formed seventy-five years ago. So was I. We’ve seen many changes over the years – the post-war boom of the fifties brought a prosperity that many had never dreamed of, especially after the economic choke hold of World War Two. The infrastructure of wartime industries became more formal during that time, providing the basis for ready growth to people demanding better things. The simultaneous spread of the automobile industry and the population both gave birth to the suburbs – there was no longer a necessity to live within walking distance of home and work.

Harry S. Truman presided over 147 million people earning an average 40 cents an hour to buy a house that was about $6,300, a gallon of milk was three times more expensive than gas which was a mere 29 cents. A more formal used car industry came about, more out of necessity than whim, to support new vehicle distribution. And used car values were tracked and tabulated in various guidebooks, some regional and a couple of national ones observed regional preferences, reflecting population and weather differences. That’s how Cox Communications got into the auto auction business. They bought five smallish auctions in the flourishing Eastern market to protect a data stream of weekly used car values, viably and actually established, which they could then publish as a known market.

The auto auctions’ first association was originally called the National Auto Auction Protection Association because it represented an industry that was largely unknown, even to regulators, and ignorance breeds rules that invariably reflect wrongly on the business they’re trying to regulate. A legislative background provided the framework back then, as local owners of auctions marketed their businesses through brochures reflecting their performance on sale days – these were known as Market Reports. Of course, better prices attracted more cars, more cars attracted more dealers and so on. The motivation to “enhance” performance was considerable and so the growth of clocking became a thing – a sure-fire way of increasing a car’s value by lowering the mileage showing on the odometer. I’ve written several essays on that subject before.

Today’s national association is a much more rounded utility, providing all kinds of access to valuable assets, shared evenly for the benefit of its members. Not the least of which is training. National training takes the guesswork out of local interpretation, especially when representing national companies’ products across so many markets.

Tom Adams Sr. brought one of the most valuable biproducts to the industry, bringing believable underwriting to the value of transactions in the form of insurance for checks and titles issued to enable sales and purchases on a sound, national basis. His son, Tom continued to bring value-added products and services to the betterment of the members. Their company, Auction Insurance Agency, through various subsidiaries, finds all sorts of ways to underwrite the declared condition and histories of the cars and trucks bought and sold through today’s auctions.

Unlike me, the auction industry has not only kept pace with the digital environment we find today but has formulated new and, dare I say, better ways to enable transactions here and across the globe. Other industry titans like Willis Johnson fulfilled visions of global access through technology, starting from the seat of a fork lift truck. 

Success stories abound throughout our business as confidence grows not only in the established methods of distribution but, with the underpinning of our national association, we continue to grow from strength to strength. We help grow others’ businesses by growing our own capabilities. I look back with pride at having been involved.




Last modified on Monday, 18 September 2023 15:14