New IARA board member Jay Hicks has only attended one of the association’s board meetings and sat in on one board phone call so far. But Hicks, who is vice president, industry relations and partnerships, for Cox Automotive, has already learned more about new trends in the remarketing industry during his short time with IARA. He also plans to go through IARA’s Certified Automotive Remarketer (CAR) program.
“I’m learning a lot about what they do, and IARA is a great organization that helps educate and inform the wholesale industry on how it should evolve,” Hicks said. “When anybody or any group can help you keep up with what the changes are and keep up with the trends, you’re better off.”
Keeping up with industry trends is also an important part of his job at Cox. He has been with the company for 12 years, the first eight with Cox Automotive business unit Auto Trader. For the past four years, he has worked for the Cox Automotive parent company, which oversees various business units such as Manheim Auctions. A continued move toward digital operations is the main trend he sees in the industry at the moment.
Commercial, fleet, and all the different elements of wholesale will become more digital, he said. “How quickly that’s going to happen, nobody knows. Technology seems to be evolving at an increasingly fast pace. What does that mean for data flow, and how will the flow of that inventory evolve over time? We don’t have the answers specifically, but those are the types of questions we’re asking ourselves,” Hicks said.
Cox’s strategic partners have asked Hicks questions about industry trends like that, and managing Cox’s strategic partnerships has been a major part of his job for the entire 12 years of his tenure with the company. Over the past four years, some of that focus has moved more toward the wholesale side. In addition, when Jay Cadigan retired from Manheim this past August after 25 years in an industry relations role, Hicks took over much of those duties.
Involvement with various industry organizations is a main part of Hicks’ industry relations activity. In addition to sitting on the IARA board, he also serves on the board of Auto Auction Services Corp., and he is also a member of the National Auto Auction Association (NAAA) joint marketing committee.
“I try to maintain relationships with people, keeping a pulse on what’s happening in the industry,” Hicks said.
Dealertrack is a big part of that strategy and is part of Hicks’ role in managing relationships. In a $4 billion transaction two years ago, Cox Automotive merged with Dealertrack, an automotive software company. Dealertrack products include credit applications, registration and titling and F&I products.
As part of Hicks’ industry relations/partnership duties, he helps manage relationships with large automotive partners, including Experian, Carfax, CDK, and Reynolds, among others. “We maintain relationships with partners, we negotiate contracts, and maintain an understanding of what’s going on in the industry,” Hicks said. “I want to continue to evolve that partnership function and industry relations function as we continue to integrate Dealertrack and have one of the largest end-to-end solutions in the industry.”