SAN FRANCISCO – In recognition of a lifetime of leadership and contribution to the auction industry, the National Auto Auction Association (NAAA) honored Mike Hockett with the 2009 Pioneer Award at its Annual Conference in San Francisco. Hockett received the honor at the Opening Luncheon Sept. 30.

Making the presentation was Jim Hallett, CEO of KAR Holdings, former president and CEO of ADESA, last year’s recipient of the NAAA Pioneer Award, and one who has known Hockett over the years as a “former partner, competitor, mentor and, most importantly, friend.”

Describing Hockett as “energetic, enthusiastic, entrepreneurial, a risk taker, visionary, founder, philanthropic, and all around decent guy who has touched lives throughout the world,” Hallett reviewed Hockett’s career and the impact he has had on the auction industry.

Hockett’s first step into the auction business was in 1964 when he founded the Indianapolis Auto Auction with his father. After selling the facility to Manheim and serving for a time as the auction manager, Hockett partnered with Chet Goins to open Auto Dealers’ Exchange of Indianapolis in 1979. The facility’s innovative “T” shape design, with the offices and cafeteria across the front and extending out into the lanes, was one of the first evidences of the young entrepreneur’s vision for the industry.

In 1987, Hockett and his good friend John Fuller capitalized the company that would become known as Automotive Finance Corporation (AFC), providing floorplan financing to dealers who could not obtain traditional bank floorplan loans. “Again, here was the visionary doing some of his best work, creating another paradigm shift in the industry,” said Hallett.

In 1988, Hockett worked with a number of independent auction owners to found ServNet. In 1992, he formed ADESA Corporation and took the auction business public on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange with five auctions.

As Hockett continued building his business, he acquired a number of unique properties for new auction facilities. “Great visionaries have the ability to see things before they happen, and Mike had the unique talent of acquiring and converting properties into auto auctions that no one else could imagine,” said Hallett as he described some notable properties: a 300,000 sq.-ft. Freuhauf trailer manufacturing plant that Hockett converted into a successful auction in Charlotte, N.C. with the first semi-circular lanes in the industry; a 3 million sq.-ft. former GM manufacturing plant in Framingham, Mass., that Hockett converted into the largest auto auction in North America; a former John’s Manville factory site in Manville, N.J. which required the demolition of over 2 million sq.-ft. of structures, but out of which Hockett’s “relentless drive and determination created a major auction in a large but under-serviced market.”

In 1993, Hockett turned his eye northward, buying auctions in Montreal, Ottawa, and Halifax and founding a new auction division: ADESA Canada. He was also instrumental in combining the salvage industry with the whole car industry by acquiring the Impact Salvage Auction chain. In 1996, Hockett partnered ADESA with Minnesota Power, paving the way for ADESA to expand, relocate, acquire Greenfield sites, and expand to the 63 auction locations it has today.

After successfully integrating ADESA with Minnesota Power, Hockett retired from the auction business, returning to the Indianapolis area to run a number of auto dealerships with his father and uncles. But in 2002, he returned to the industry he loves, founding Auction Broadcasting Company (ABC Auctions), facilitating the next evolution in the industry as he created conveyor belt reconditioning shops and integrated internet theaters next to the auction lanes. In 2004, he partnered again with John Fuller to form Dealer Services Corporation, which continues to be a major floorplan finance company for auto dealers. Today, Hockett and his sons operate ABC at nine locations in the United States.

“It is a tremendous honor for me to recognize Mike Hockett as the 2009 Pioneer Award recipient,” said Hallett in making the presentation. “Every now and then someone comes along with God-given abilities to truly impact the direction of an industry and make a difference for the rest of us.”