Chuck Novince described the auto industry atmosphere as one of working hard and playing hard in the late 1980s and early ’90s when he first worked for Wheels, Inc. and then for Anglo-American Auto Auction, which eventually became ADT Automotive and was later bought by Manheim. Novince, who retired from Manheim in September, remembers being on the road about 45 weeks a year calling on customers and spending about 15 weekends a year attending conferences. He would take clients out for a two-drink lunch, and often those two drinks continued on to dinner. That was the norm.
“So I’m very grateful the industry has changed and that people have gotten away from that type of habit,” he said.
Since that time, the business has switched from the entertainment focus to a statistical one. Twenty years ago, you could establish a relationship with clients, provide decent service, and they would give you their business. That’s not so true now.
“It’s very analytical today,” Novince said. “It’s still a relationships business, but today the folks you’re calling on have to justify everything they do. You’ve got to show them numbers and analytics and provide exceptional service.”
It wasn’t like that when Novince started out in the late ’70s with Agency Rent A Car, which Enterprise Rent A Car later acquired. He delivered cars for renters and worked his way up to running some offices for Agency. He later worked as rental manager and assistant leasing manager for an auto dealership before starting with Leaseway /Dart & Kraft in the purchasing department. He relocated to Chicago when Dart & Kraft moved there, but when the company relocated again to Minnesota, he took a job instead with leasing company Wheels, Inc. and later moved to Anglo American and its unique lifestyle.
That lifestyle eased up when he moved on to work for an ADESA auto auction in Cleveland, eventually becoming general manager. He had several obstacles to overcome at that business. He hired an almost entirely new staff and went through a half million dollar renovation of the property and three computer system conversions.
One December while still at the ADESA auction, he called some of his old friends at Anglo American/ADT to wish them happy holidays. They asked him to come back. He agreed, and he remained there through the Manheim acquisition and ended up staying 17 years with Manheim and 28 overall with Anglo/ADT/Manheim.
“It was a great career. You probably think I can’t hold a job down, but each time I moved it was an advancement and new challenge.” His diverse career actually worked to his advantage in some ways. “I’ve been able to sit across from a lot of people and say, ‘I’ve done your job’, ‘I’ve done something similar’, or ‘I know what you’re going through.’ I’ve put myself in the shoes of the individual that I was in front of, and I tried to be a good partner with them and bring value.”
When he came back to Anglo/ADT, the company had changed its 45-week, 15-weekends-on-the-road methods, which made the job more tolerable. He oversaw ADT’s Chrysler business and continued that work after the Manheim acquisition, and the emphasis on entertainment turned to a focus on analytics.
He notes that Manheim employs an entire analytics team, conducting data reviews for customers several times per year. The team shows clients areas in which they perform well and areas with possible opportunities for improvement.
“It’s now being a partner,” Novince said. “It was like that back then, too, but even more today, and it’s driven by analytics.”
He sees that focus continuing in the future, and as the next generation comes in to run businesses, he foresees an increased focus on technology. The remarketing industry must find a way to reach members of that generation, many who would rather do all their business over their mobile devices than visit a brick and mortar.
Working with groups such as IARA has helped him keep up with industry trends. He was an IARA board member for several years and also served on the association’s membership, standards, and compliance committees. He supports the current direction of the group.
“We all get impatient that things aren’t happening fast enough. At least they’re trying to address some things and make some progress,” he said.
He added that working with individual industry members was the most enjoyable part of his career. “From the side of the business I saw, which was mostly the used car side, you had a lot of people who were true to their word, honest, and very good to work with, characteristics I try to live by.”