When Paul Seger sizes up the progress of the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance after more than two decades, he sees even more opportunities ahead.
The 2021-23 Chairman of the IARA Board of Directors wants more remarketing industry professionals to benefit from the advantages that boosted his 40+ year remarketing career.
“When I look back at what was key and pivotal for my career, it was the people I met along my journey who mentored me and helped me get to the point where I am today,” said Seger, who is the executive vice president of asset remarketing at Element Fleet Management. Before joining Element in 2016, Seger worked for 34 years at GE Commercial Finance. “Mentorship is something we can formalize at the IARA. I know it’s a topic we are talking through. We can come up with structured programs that draw on experienced people who can devote time to give back to the industry and mentor newer or younger members.”
A mentorship program would complement the two professional education programs that have become the staples of IARA involvement: The established Certified Automotive Remarketer (CAR) program and the recent Audit and Compliance Training (ACT) curriculum launched in August 2022. Both programs are bringing more industry members into a common set of practices and standards that apply to industry transactions and operations.
“Mentorship is one piece of the experience we could jump start or help accelerate into a formal program,” Seger said. “It would add real value.”
One highlight of Seger’s career was being named the Conference of Automotive Remarketing and Vehicle Remarketing 2015 Consignor of the Year. He was instrumental in navigating the consumer finance business through one of the most challenging cycles in the automobile industry, and along with his team, was responsible for preventing millions of dollars in forecasted residual value losses.
Latest Roles Add Up to Activity
Since serving a two-year term as IARA President from 2019-2021, a period that covered the worst economic fallouts from the COVID pandemic, Seger has been active with committee work. He has been collaborating with fellow IARA leaders and members on electric vehicle policies and standards that will influence long-term resale values and how the vehicles are assessed and handled by consignors and auctions.
“There are so many things happening in the electric vehicle and auto spaces,” Seger said. The IARA is working closely with the National Auto Auction Association to develop common EV remarketing standards. Seger has found that EVs are constantly changing perceptions and findings, as they evolve. Battery health, for example, has been a leading concern for remarketers.
“Although supplier partners are measuring batteries, I think the results are surprising given how well they have held up. I wonder if other people who manage EVs in their fleet portfolios realize that we’re not seeing big swings in value when these vehicles come back to into the market.”
Consignor Challenges and Opportunities Ahead
As the industry prepares to gather at the Conference of Automotive Remarketing in Las Vegas March 28-30, Seger sees some challenges and trends shaping up that should be top of mind for industry colleagues. He cites the volatility in the automotive marketplace from the after-effects of the pandemic, inventory shortages, and supply chain constraints as reasons to stay flexible and not get comfortable with routines.
He also mentions the challenges of the logistics segment, where remarketers now have to look for vehicles in a wider radius because of lower supply. That requires more auto transport at a time when providers face labor and equipment shortages. “Logistics has become more important. I worry about there being enough transportation. There’s a shortage of quality drivers because it’s not an ambition of young people now to become cross-country truck and trailer drivers.”
After the IARA celebrated 20 years in 2021, it clearly established itself as a solid base for consignors and associated industry segments. But that’s not enough, Seger said.
“What excites me most is to see where the alliance could go. This could evolve into a broader association that affects not just auto remarketing, but the auto industry in general. A lot of our areas are crossing over. Who knows what industry looks like 10-15-20 years from now?
“I put myself in the shoes of someone who has been one to 10 years in remarketing. With COVID taking you out of play for a few years, it is important to be engaged and involved with the IARA, and it’s even more critical for those who have decision roles in automotive remarketing.”