Car Culture

Car Culture

Universal Technical Institute, BMW of North America and Premier Truck Group are celebrating the success of their on-base technician training programs this Veterans Day, which has resulted in transitioning military members taking jobs at BMW and Premier Truck Group dealerships across the country. The effort, first launched in 2018 at Camp Pendleton, Calif., has since expanded to two additional bases.

BMW of North America and UTI offer the BMW MSTEP technician training program at Camp Pendleton and Fort Bragg, N.C., while Premier Truck Group and UTI offer a diesel technician training program at Fort Bliss, Texas. The programs are available to service members with a technician background who are transitioning to civilian life.

“Veterans are highly trained, talented and agile, and among the most dedicated, capable and disciplined students and employees we’ve met,” said Jerome Grant, CEO of UTI. “It is our privilege to support them. That’s why we have built a welcoming environment and programs like this that appreciates their service and sacrifice.”

The 16-week BMW technical education p­­rogram features a specialized on-base curriculum and hands-on technical training on diagnostics and technologies unique to the BMW brand. Upon graduation, BMW assists the new technicians with employment at authorized U.S. dealers. There are currently more than 7,000 BMW technicians across the network, and more are needed every year, especially those trained by the company itself.

A 51-year-old man who advertised himself as the “Used Car King of New York” has admitted to conspiring to commit wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer Lowery.

Octavian Ocasio pleaded guilty to conspiring with others residing in the Southern District of Texas to buying and selling thousands of fraudulent Texas-issued temporary buyer tags for cars outside of Texas without a legitimate vehicle purchase.

Ocasio and co-conspirators used the Internet to buy and sell the fraudulent state-issued buyer tags and exchange proceeds from the illegal tag sales.

As part of his plea, Ocasio acknowledged he and his co-conspirators communicated through accounts on Gmail, Instagram and Facebook to receive and deliver fraudulent buyer tags to purchasers all over the United States, including New York, Florida and Washington, D.C. 

He also admitted he and his co-conspirators advertised the state-issued buyer tags on social media platforms and received and shared fraud proceeds via electronic payment services such as Cash App and Zelle.

U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. will impose sentencing Feb. 6, 2023. At that time, Ocasio faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Ocasio has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.

At press time, Emmanuel Padilla Reyes, aka Christian Hernandez Bonilla or Noel Rivera, is still a fugitive in this case. The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone providing information that directly leads to his arrest. 

Hagerty announced the expansion of its national network of premium clubhouse and car storage facilities with the opening of Hagerty Garage + Social Palm Beach. Building on existing locations in Delray Beach and Miami, Garage + Social offers world-class clubhouse and storage facilities to South Florida’s car collectors and enthusiasts.

Garage + Social Palm Beach offers climate-controlled storage for up to 450 classic, collector and exotic cars and motorcycles, in addition to maintenance, detailing and concierge services.  The facility also features a clubhouse with luxury amenities, providing members a social space to spend time with fellow enthusiasts.

“South Florida has such a vibrant and engaging car culture,” said John Belniak, managing director, Hagerty Garage + Social. “With our new Palm Beach location, we now have three distinct facilities that offer both the luxury of service and a gathering place for car enthusiasts.”

Garage + Social Palm Beach has more than 50,000 sq. ft. of storage, social and meeting space for members to gather, serving as a place for the car community to meet, enjoy on-site events and participate in driving events.

All nine nationwide Garage + Social locations are open seven days a week, with round-the-clock access available for members with appointments. Garage + Social facilities are located in Seattle, Chicago, Toronto, Bedford Hills (N.Y.), Delray Beach, Miami, Palm Beach, Culver City (Calif.) and Van Nuys (Calif. ).

Northwood University is poised to honor seven prominent supporters of educational initiatives and learning within the automotive aftermarket industry during its annual Automotive Aftermarket Management Education Awards. 

The Northwood University Automotive Aftermarket Management Education Award is given annually to industry leaders throughout the country who have made noteworthy contributions to education, on any level, inside or outside of the industry.

Recipients will receive their honors at a luncheon program held during the AAPEX event, which is set for Nov. 1-3 in Las Vegas.

“Northwood University is proud to continue the tradition of recognizing aftermarket industry leaders from around the world,” said Northwood President Kent MacDonald. “This newest class of influential honorees are significant contributors to the aftermarket industry, and they are well-aligned with Northwood’s mission to develop leaders who drive global economic and social progress.” 

  • Amanda Bischoping, Auto Care Association education manager
  • Michael Boyer, president of TASCO Sales Representatives
  • John Chalifoux, president and COO, MERA – The Association for Sustainable Manufacturing
  • David Erb, speaker and consultant for the Automotive Training Institute
  • Todd Leimenstoll, president and CEO of Auto-Wares Group of Companies
  • Tom Marx, president and chief strategy officer for Marx, Buscemi, Eisbrenner Group (MBE Group) 
  • Joseph Mejaly, vice president of North America Aftermarket for Meritor

The awards will be presented at noon Nov. 1 at the Venetian Hotel. Northwood students enrolled in the Automotive Aftermarket Management program will present the awards to the honorees.

Advanced Business Computers of America Inc., a Software-as-a-Service company entrenched in the used car industry and known for Deal Pack and cyclCRM, is hosting its fourth Deal Pack User Conference on Oct. 17-18 at its headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Deal Pack User Conference covers Deal Pack’s complete, cutting-edge ecosystem including cyclCRMÔ, desking, digital document management and vaulting, loan servicing and collections tools, omni-channel payment processing, automated reporting, and its industry-leading, integrated accounting.

The User Conference covers Deal Pack’s complete, cutting-edge ecosystem including cyclCRM, desking, digital document management and vaulting, loan servicing and collections tools, omni-channel payment processing, automated reporting, and its industry-leading, integrated accounting.

Speakers provide in-depth training sessions of Deal Pack’s Sales, Finance, and Service & Parts modules for retail, BHPH, and leasing dealerships, related finance companies, direct and indirect finance companies.

“The Deal Pack User Conference is a great learning experience for our dealers and finance companies,” said Karolina Jarvis, marketing assistant at ABCoA. “Not only do they see how to maximize Deal Pack’s new and existing features, but they also have an opportunity to collaborate with other Deal Pack users much like a performance group.”

Amazon Web Services Inc. and the BMW Group announced a strategic collaboration to develop customizable cloud software that will simplify the distribution and management of data from millions of connected vehicles.

The BMW Group will be the first automaker to use the software, which will serve as the basis for its next-generation, cloud-based vehicle data platform. Moving forward, the new software will be available to other automakers, enabling them to integrate vehicle data sources, accelerate vehicle and fleet application feature development, and improve life cycle management, while delivering advanced vehicle features and more personalized driver experiences at lower costs.

“We have 20 million connected vehicles on the road today,” said Nicolai Krämer, vice president of Vehicle Connectivity Platforms at the BMW Group. “With the launch of the ‘Neue Klasse,’ BMW’s next generation of vehicles, our offboard cloud platform, powered by AWS, will process roughly triple the volume of vehicle data compared to the current generation of BMW models.

“Together with AWS, we will continue to create innovative solutions that enable us to develop and deliver new data-driven functions to customers worldwide, even faster.”

The BMW Group and AWS co-developed solution collects BMW vehicle signals and fleet intelligence data, then securely processes and routes the data in the cloud. Using AWS’s cloud infrastructure and its industry-leading security, the BMW Group ensures that its customer data is protected and processed in accordance with data privacy requirements and customer preferences.

RefiJet, an auto loan refinancing company, will be featured on an upcoming episode of Designing Spaces.  

Designing Spaces is an award-winning home improvement show that travels America to remodel, redecorate, and redesign people’s homes. The show also includes segments on topics such as technological advancements, gardening, and financial matters. 

William Kenneth Padgett Sr., known by all as “Billy,” age 88, of Walterboro, S.C., died Oct. 3, 2022, at the Colleton Medical Center.

Born Dec. 3, 1933, in Walterboro, he was a son of the late Kenneth Ray Padgett and the late Lois Drawdy Padgett.

Padgett was a graduate of Mars Hill Junior College and the University of South Carolina. He served in the U.S. Army having been stationed in France. For 40 years he owned and operated the iconic BP Motors Sales on Jefferies Boulevard in the heart of Walterboro. During those years, Padgett made countless friends through his work and service to a community he dearly loved. He was a businessman and friend. Padgett was also a member of the First Baptist Church of Walterboro.  

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Wilma Ree Graham Padgett of Walterboro. He was preceded in death by his son, William “Bill” Kenneth Padgett Jr. 

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that memorials be directed in his memory to: Live Oak Cemetery, Post Office Box 1351, Walterboro, SC 29488. 

“Southwest Florida is our home, and Hertz employees live and work among areas hit hardest by Hurricane Ian,” said Stephen Scherr, chief executive officer of Hertz.

The company announced $1 million in contributions to support relief and recovery efforts across Southwest Florida and to further assist Hertz employees who live in areas impacted by the hurricane Ian.

Hertz made a $500,000 donation to the Florida Disaster Fund, administered by the State of Florida to assist communities with disaster recovery, along with a $150,000 donation to Collaboratory’s Southwest Florida Emergency Relief Fund, which benefits the United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades Counties to directly assist people across the region. 

“The impact of the hurricane is devastating, but the resilience of this community is inspiring,” Scherr said. “We are proud to contribute to the Florida Disaster Fund and Collaboratory as part of our broader disaster relief efforts and to help Southwest Florida rebuild.”

In addition, the company is providing $350,000 in grants to employees in the most severely impacted areas. Employees can also receive grants through the Hertz Employee Relief Fund, which enables the company’s employees to help one another.

Cars.com Inc., an automotive marketplace platform that provides a robust set of digital solutions, has reappointed former executive Sonia Jain as its chief financial officer, effective Oct. 17. 

Sonia Jain

“We are thrilled to have Sonia back as we continue to invest for sustainable growth,” said Alex Vetter, chief executive officer at CARS. “I'm confident that Sonia's deep experience in retail, tech and financial management will help advance our platform strategy, driving growth and incremental shareholder value.”

Jain previously served as CFO of Redbox, overseeing finance, treasury, strategy and analytics, and mergers and acquisitions activities. Prior to Redbox, Jain served as vice president, finance and treasurer with Outerwall. She was also an investment banker at Morgan Stanley and a consultant at McKinsey & Company.

“The strength of the CARS business and its track record for growing market leadership and leading industry innovation represents a clear and compelling opportunity,” said Jain. “The company's strong free cash flow profile, solid margins and consistent growth across revenue, traffic and customers all signal stability and continued momentum. I'm eager to rejoin the talented team at CARS.”

Jandy Tomy has served as interim CFO of CARS since April 2022. She will remain at the company as Executive Vice President of Finance and Treasurer where she will drive treasury operations and support investor relations and other strategic finance initiatives.