Immediate Past President Paul Seger (L) presents the 2020 IARA Circle of Excellence Award to Ben Lange, the CEO and president of America’s Auto Auction and Auction Credit Enterprises. Lange...

Immediate Past President Paul Seger (L) presents the 2020 IARA Circle of Excellence Award to Ben Lange, the CEO and president of America’s Auto Auction and Auction Credit Enterprises. Lange received the award on Aug. 25, 2021 during the IARA Summer Roundtable because the award could not be presented in-person last year due to the pandemic.

Photo: IARA

Only two years after its founding, the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance set a quality  tradition that has endured for the better part of two decades.

The IARA honored its first recipient of the Circle of Excellence Award, Jim Moran, in 2003. The award is given to an individual who has clearly demonstrated outstanding contributions to the betterment of society and the remarketing industry. With dual winners announced this year, the award marks its 20th recipient in 20 years.

The co-chair of the Recognition and Awards Committee has seen the value of IARA awards up front and from both sides. As immediate Past President and current IARA Chairman, Paul Seger has presented numerous awards in the last few years, while being a recipient of the 2011 Remarketing Industry Recognition Award. 

“It warms me as a person because it’s a lot about what I’m about,” Seger said. “We are fortunate to recognize a lot of folks who don’t get these opportunities in life. For us to be able to give back and recognize them and not forget where we’ve all come from feels good.”

The Committee & Selection Process

The Recognition and Awards Committee was created in 2003. Dave Alfonso was the first to take the helm as chair, a position he held for nearly a decade until his passing. Most recently the committee was co-chaired by Seger and Mary Haller, who retired, leaving Seger as the chair. He is looking for a co-chair.

The committee asks the IARA executive committee and board for its nominations before each of the two conferences and then discusses each nominee to create a final slate for board members and the committee to vote upon. “The best of the best is who rises to the top as we go through the entire process,” Seger said.

Awards Program Grows

In addition to the coveted Circle of Excellence Award, the committee is also responsible for bestowing the annual Remarketing Industry Recognition Award as well as the Ed Bobit Industry Icon Award.

The Remarketing Industry Recognition Award celebrates an individual’s one-time outstanding contribution to the remarketing industry, or to his or her community. The award recognizes notable contributions considered unusual in nature or deserving of special recognition. Individuals from all associated remarketing companies are eligible for this award. The award may be presented at any regularly scheduled IARA meeting, but is usually given at the IARA Summer Roundtable conference.

The Ed Bobit Industry Icon Award recognizes those leaders who have actively shaped the industry.

The award is named after Ed Bobit, founder of Bobit Business Media, who in 1961 he launched Automotive Fleet magazine and built the company into the largest fleet media publisher in the industry with more than 20 magazine brand titles. 

COVID-19 Complications

While the various awards have traditionally been bestowed at the spring and summer conferences, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 promptly canceled in-person events, including both the 2020 CAR conference as well as the 2020 Summer Roundtable conference, which were reprogrammed to be virtual that year. As a result, Seger enjoyed the privilege of handing out a total of five awards for 2021 and 2020 during the Summer Roundtable in August in San Antonio.

Rewards Program

Winning any award is an achievement, but those bestowed by the IARA are widely coveted within the industry. The awards serve as a high-level acknowledgement and recognition, Seger said.

They capture not just what recipients have accomplished within the industry, but also their charitable and benevolent contributions in their daily lives.

Examples of service to others from previous award winners include supporting the United Way and the Red Cross, donating funds to help recover from natural disasters, and even buying entire kitchens for single mothers and women’s clubs. “Since much of the selection process is based upon members who really get out there and give back, this is an acknowledgement of their good deeds,” Seger said.

On the Horizon

Presently, Seger said the committee is considering recommending to the IARA board that two of the awards be combined into one that captures the essence of both the Remarketing Industry Recognition and Circle of Excellence awards.

In Seger’s opinion, this would increase the value of the award to the recipient as there would only be one spotlight on one winner and thus, create a bigger “wow” moment. ■

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