WASHINGTON – Ray Nichols and Steve Houston were recently inducted into the NAAA Hall of Fame during the Association’s 60th Annual Convention, Equipment & Service Exposition in Washington, D.C.

This award is given annually to two members of the industry: an auction executive and industry auction supporter.

The auction executive award is awarded to person with long-term service to the wholesale motor vehicle auction industry and NAAA, who has improved the industry as a whole, has worked with other NAAA members to improve the industry as a whole, and has consistently followed the high standards of the NAAA Code of Ethics.

The industry auction supporter award is awarded to a person for long-term service to the industry and NAAA, who has consistently remarketed motor vehicles through NAAA member auctions or provided the highest quality of services and/or products to NAAA member auctions at fair prices, has encouraged others to remarket motor vehicles through or provide services and products to NAAA member auctions, and has consistently followed high ethical standards equivalent to those in the NAAA Code of Ethics.

This year’s recipients are Stephen Houston, national vice president, Vehicle Marketing for Wachovia Dealer Services and IARA Chairman of the Board, and Raymond Nichols, chairman of BSCAmerica Auction Group and past president of the National Auto Auction Association.

Jim DesRochers, NAAA past president, described Houston as “a low key and well-respected leader,” as he made the award presentation. A graduate of the University of Washington, Houston spent more than 20 years in the Seattle area as a partner in a family-owned new car dealership. In 1993, he left the Pacific Northwest to relocate in Southern California where be managed several large dealership groups, including Paulson Automotive Group in Beverly Hills.

“He left the retail side of the business in 1999 to pursue the best part of the industry: used cars, the auctions and remarketing, and has worked for WFS/Wachovia since January of 2001,” said DesRochers, noting that Houston has also served the industry well, working on a number of NAAA committees, helping to found IARA and serving as its president for the 2005 term. “Steve Houston has been associated with 15 automotive dealerships and remarketing companies,” said DesRochers. “We honor Steve tonight for his integrity and devotion to the auction industry, and I am privileged to welcome him to the Hall of Fame on behalf of the members of the National Auto Association.”

Ray Nichols (center) with Gregg Kobel, 2006-2007 NAAA President,(l) and Chuck Stepter, NAAA General Counsel(r).

Chuck Stepter, NAAA General Counsel, introduced Ray Nichols as “a leader with family, friends, business and NAAA, who is frequently relied on by many of us as a confidential advisor.”

Highlighting Nichols’ life in the industry, Stepter related that Nichols “left a very successful business career with a hair-brained idea to borrow $5,000.00 and open an auction business with his wife. That husband and wife partnership grew the auction and related businesses more than even they could have imagined, raising two fine children along the way and giving back to the communities and industries they worked in. This husband and wife partnership built a group of businesses that include wholesale auto auctions, asset management, liquidation, floorplanning, remarketing services to lenders and lessors, and residual and specialized insurance services for major lenders and lessors, including major financial and automotive companies in addition to various other real property partnerships and interests.”

Nichols served as NAAA president in the year following the events of 9/11, and skillfully led NAAA through a troubling year for all of America. One of his major accomplishments was working with his predecessor to embrace the concept of drawing the future officers of NAAA together regularly to create a team approach for providing member oversight. Nichols and his team streamlined the meeting schedule of NAAA by reducing annual meetings from three two, thereby minimizing the members’ time away from their businesses. He declared his presidency “The Year of the Used Car”, using the theme: “Challenge the Future Now.” He led many strategic and long-range planning efforts that continue to benefit NAAA. Since the conclusion of his presidency, he has devoted a great deal of time and energy to industry efforts such as growing and maintaining AuctionNet, which has generated a great deal of income for the NAAA.