Having been born with an innate love for automobiles, Dave Alfonso left the consumer goods business and joined the automotive industry more than 30 years ago.
His first move was to a specialty vehicles manufacturer, where as general manager, he delighted in designing, building, and marketing vehicles to satisfy a dramatically changing market. His company quickly grew from a Northern California operation to one doing business in the Western United States. It was there that Alfonso became captivated with what he viewed to be the fleet, remarketing, and used vehicle future for auto manufacturers.
“My goal was to join a manufacturer in a fleet/remarketing position,” Alfonso said. And to prepare himself, he took positions as general manager of an auto auction and then as a remarketing manager with Hertz Corporation. With successes to his credit on both sides of the remarketing industry, he sought a manufacturer needing help with remarketing.
Alfonso’s move to the mainstream auto industry took him to Mazda Motor of America where he created and launched the company’s first Fleet Remarketing Program. After successfully completing a 4,000-vehicle test program with Budget Rent A Car, Mazda was soon profitably selling and remarketing 30,000 program vehicles per year to auto rental companies.
Alfonso Gets in on the Ground Floor at Kia Motors America
Following an era of organizational changes throughout Mazda and the increased involvement of Ford Motor Company, Alfonso was asked to join Ford and share his expertise in a sales and management training capacity.
However, Alfonso eventually decided to return to running a fleet/remarketing operation, preferably again to one with a “ground floor” opportunity and rapid growth potential. This opportunity came at Kia Motors America.
Upon joining Kia in July 1997, Alfonso was given the responsibility of bringing the company’s initially outsourced Fleet Sales and Remarketing Programs in-house, expanding them to meet Kia’s rapid growth. He created and staffed the new department, hired and worked with an outside programming firm to develop an electronic fleet support system, and grew the company’s fleet volume.
“The first part of my agreement upon joining KIA was to establish and build an in-house Fleet Sales and Remarketing operation,” Alfonso said. “The company was fairly new to the United States at that time and wanted to take advantage of the exposure and growth that Fleet offered.”
A second part of the agreement was to allow Alfonso to turn the department over to another manager once it was built so that he could manage auction sales (his first love) during his remaining years with Kia. The company complied, and Alfonso is now extremely happy working in the auction world.
Alfonso, a graduate of Ohio State University, is married, has two daughters (one followed him into the Auto Industry), and resides with his wife, Rose, in Temecula, California. Outside of his family and work, his greatest love and source personal of satisfaction was being a race car driver.
“In my younger race years, I set a goal to win a race when I was 60,” he said. “I not only achieved it, but won two races that season and achieved a second place overall points finish in the West Coast Championship Series.”
Alfonso’s second love is riding motorcycles, followed by photography and cooking. He also restores cars and motorcycles, winning several First in Class awards and achieving one Best of Show award at an international con-course.
A Look at the State of the Remarketing Industry
According to Alfonso, Kia’s auction sales manager, proof that the remarketing industry is solid and resilient lies in how well it has performed in the current weak economy.
“Even though it has taken some hits, look at how good it looks versus the unemployment figure and other businesses,” Alfonso pointed out. “I expect that our industry will continue to be resistant to most of the economic heavy artillery it faces.”
According to Alfonso, the industry also continues to become more sophisticated. “We all know the part that technology has played and where it’s taking us,” he said.
Examples of this technological progress include electronic condition report writing and standardizing procedures on setting cost.
“The International Automotive Remarketers Alliance (IARA) and National Auto Auction Association (NAAA) and have come together to improve frame policy, develop standard certification programs, and advance condition report standardization,” Alfonso stated. “These advances have made a big difference in the industry as a whole. Both organizations can consult with each other for a mutual exchange of ideas, which improves the entire industry overall.”
Alfonso also pointed out that the education within the industry continues to grow. “There are courses that people can take now to become Certified Remarketers,” he said. “This education provides that added level of expertise. The academic courses that lead to ‘certification’ are of ultimate value to the industry. The accomplishment of becoming a Certified Automotive Remarketer through the IARA program will one day be considered the price of entry.”
Other areas of advancement in the remarketing arena include streamlined communication between auto auctions and sellers and consignors, of which IARA has been a driving force.
“Before, auctions had no organized means of gathering feedback from sellers and consignors on what they liked, wanted changed, etc.,” Alfonso pointed out. “Sellers could only communicate their requirements to auctions individually. Conversely, auctions acted and launched seller policy without the opportunity to first consult with either sellers or a seller organization.”
Today, these associations hold client advisory meetings, which offer a structured environment for those wishing to give feedback to the auctions their working with.
“Now, each speaks to the other with one voice, and the results benefit everyone, including the buyers,” Alfonso said.
New systems created as a result of auction client feedback include streamlined online selling and tracking systems, simulcasting, and upstream selling, among others.
“Kia can look into what the auctions have on hand, where it is, and what stage the cars are in regarding repair,” Alfonso said. “Before, it used to be all phone calls and faxes. Now, we can manage everything with a laptop from anywhere.”
IARA Charter Member Makes a Difference in the Industry
Alfonso remains active within an industry that he counts among his life passions: the remarketing industry.
“It’s a source of pride for me that I am an IARA Charter Board Member,” he said. “About eight years ago, a small group of us who saw the need for a remarketing association met and grew to what the IARA is today. My personal sentiments in wanting to be a part of the IARA were and still are that an organization of sellers acting as a partner and counterpart to the NAAA would benefit both, as well as drive the entire remarketing industry to a more cohesive and effective future.”
Alfonso has chaired the IARA’s Industry Recognition & Awards Committee over the years, which encourages and publicizes excellence within the remarketing, fleet, and auto industries.
“Serving as IARA’s Recognition & Awards Committee Chairman over the years has given me the opportunity to say many good things about many good people during awards presentations,” Alfonso added.
He also acknowledges how the IARA has significantly affected him in his day-to-day job through the advancement of agreements on frame policy, standardization, condition reporting, certification, and best practices.
“Collaboration has been proven to be more effective than the best individual opinion. That is the value of having the top minds in the business gather fo