IARA Certification Committee Co-Chair Michele Pierog, CAR, says the committee is reviewing the modules and updating them to reflect the many aspects that have changed during the past year. -...

IARA Certification Committee Co-Chair Michele Pierog, CAR, says the committee is reviewing the modules and updating them to reflect the many aspects that have changed during the past year.

Photo: Michele Pierog / IARA

The International Automotive Remarketers Alliance’s Certification Committee was launched in 2008 as the brainchild of David Sutton (Montway Auto Transport) and two-decade board director Scott Kolb.

The new committee was tasked with providing an opportunity for remarketing professionals to achieve greater industry recognition of their expertise.

By creating new educational material and refining older material to share the best practices in the automotive remarketing industry, the Certification Committee hit their mark. It is important to note that you do not need to be an IARA member to become Certified Automotive Remarketer (CAR) certified. Anyone can obtain certification if they fit the criteria. Members pay $50 per module and nonmembers pay $100.

Looking Back

The first two recipients of the CAR Certification also came in 2008 as Sal Terranova (Carolina Auto Auction) and Chris Wise (Charleston Auto Auction) successfully completed all of the modules required to attain the CAR certification and began using it with their signature to indicate they had achieved prestigious industry status.

Co-Chair Michele Pierog, who runs the committee with Co-Chair Jackie Malik, said the program was launched with a 20-course curriculum covering all aspects of remarketing and has mostly remained the same. In 2016, co-founder Sutton said, “[CAR] involves creating awareness, providing testing opportunities, proctoring and cheering on those who wish to pursue this professional designation.”

“There are 20 different modules with a variety of different topics that influence remarketing,” Pierog said. Those modules include remarketing channels, presale activities, sale day activities, post-sale activities, and more.

Changing with the Industry

Pierog shared how the increased use of digital auctions has changed a few things about what happens to a vehicle after it’s sold as well as legal and ethical topics. To maintain CAR status, a certified automotive remarketer must recertify every three years. In 2020, the committee adopted a policy that allows CAR certificate holders to achieve lifetime CAR status once they have certified their skills three times.

A major enhancement of the program over the past five years was the adoption of online testing. Pierog said all the module tests were transcribed so that they could be taken online.

Before the online implementation, tests were conducted with pen and paper and required applicants to attend an industry conference to complete the module tests in two-hour sessions held concurrently with the conference. This greatly hindered people in obtaining CAR certification as it would require attendance at many conferences to complete all 20 modules.

As an initial improvement, the committee trained proctors to follow criteria and specific rules. Companies could then hire a trained proctor to come to their workplace and test employees. While that was a step in the right direction, offering online audio modules was an even bigger improvement that allowed people to listen to modules on a plane or anywhere and then complete the test with a hired proctor.

Major Accomplishments

Working in partnership with Penny Wanna, president of Auto Auction Academy, a new program was developed to provide an opportunity for everyone who joined the Auto Auction Academy to also become CAR certified. This produces about 20 new candidates every other year. Wanna joined the committee as a co-chair in October.

The website has been improved to include a lot of useful information. “What I’ve noticed is, although online proctoring seems a little impersonal, it’s really created a brotherhood,” Pierog said. “There are three to four proctors who provide specific time slots for CAR testing every week. This makes it convenient for candidates who want to become CAR certified to visit the website, click on a link and view sessions being offered in a given week. In addition, candidates can opt for a custom schedule with a proctor if the time slots don’t fit their schedule. The implementation of the online process has eliminated the need to fly somewhere simply to complete a module test.”

COVID Effects

“The world changed, and we had to change with it,” said Pierog, as she referred to the COVID-19 pandemic which affected nearly every industry. “We started doing remote proctoring by Zoom and that was extremely successful.”

As the world came to a halt and everyone was in a bit of a limbo, many members of the industry opted to get their CAR certification. “We had, by far, more graduates in 2020 than we’ve ever had,” Pierog said. “It was a banner year.” With online testing already in place as the pandemic arrived, Pierog characterized COVID as “the perfect storm” for graduating 67 people.

And in case anyone asks, Pierog and Malik are both CAR certified.

Looking Ahead

The committee is reviewing the modules and updating them to reflect the many aspects that have changed during the past year. The committee is considering enhancing some of the modules for more depth as well as adding some new modules.

Some of the topics that have changed much during the past several years include transport and logistics and what Pierog describes as “the big hot button, privacy matters.” There are many more compliance matters than there were five years ago, and the committee will work with IARA’s Compliance Committee to create an offshoot to one of the current modules that will add the elements of privacy and compliance.

 Most of the modules were written based on remarketing vehicles through a traditional auto auction, which was a brick-and-mortar physical auction. With so many avenues for remarketing, wholesale and retail have changed. Pierog says the internet has transformed the complete circle of wholesale to retail.

Everyone has more transparency and access to follow a vehicle through its lifecycle, so the committee will monitor and adapt to continuous changes in how matters are handled from a remarketing standpoint.

After 20 years of the IARA, industry members who have a “CAR” designation after their name enjoy a high level of professional prestige. ■

Note: This article appeared in the IARA 20th Anniversary Commemorative Issue published in November 2021.