ServNet Marks 25 Years

ServNet celebrates its 25th year in 2013, tracing its growth as a group, marking its contributions to the industry and stressing its collective commitment to independent ownership and superior service. Initially conceived as a way for independently-owned auctions to increase their national visibility, ServNet has grown to include the nation's leading independent auctions, with an impact on the market that has eclipsed even the loftiest goals set by its founders.

ServNet was conceived by a group of independent auction owners who developed the idea for a cooperative marketing network while participating in a performance group sponsored by the National Auto Auction Association in the late 1980's. They talked of forming an alliance to share ideas and to promote their auctions on a national level.

"We discussed the advantages of working together with other independent auction owners who shared the same philosophy and offered the same level of service," remembers Jeff Barber, owner of State Line Auto Auction and one of ServNet's founding members. "We talked about pooling our resources and promoting ourselves collectively…and in 1988 ServNet was born."

Ten Founding Auctions Stress Independence, Service
At its beginning in 1988, ServNet included 10 auctions, all independent members of the NAAA performance group where the discussions had started. By the year 2000 ServNet counted 20 locations among its members. With the recent addition of Ocala Auto Dealers Exchange in Florida, ServNet now includes 31 auctions, with an impact on the marketplace that reaches from coast to coast: from New England to California, and from Florida to Alaska..

"Our initial aim was to stress the advantages of the personal service we offer as independently owned and operated facilities," says Barber. "We have come a long way since then, as we have responded to the rapidly changing requirements of our industry, and I can honestly say that the advantages of participating in ServNet are more valuable now than ever before."

ServNet has evolved in both scope and breadth since its founding in 1988. ServNet quickly established itself as a network of the nation's top auctions, and developed relationships with virtually every manufacturer, fleet manager and institutional consignor in the country. Growing in strength and influence, ServNet has set standards for best practices, built effective partnerships with auction customers, and set a precedent for communication that benefits both the member auctions and consignors from coast to coast.

Bob McConkey, past president of the NAAA and ServNet, joined forces with ServNet in the early 1990's, An industry veteran who is known throughout the industry for his innovation and leadership, McConkey acknowledges the role that ServNet has played in his operations, which include DAA Northwest and El Paso Independent Auto Auction.

"As independent auctions, we cannot serve our customers or the industry as separate 'islands', explains McConkey. "To stay relevant, we must band together to build critical mass as a culture, to create optimal impact in the media and on the internet, and to establish a national footprint in the marketplace. ServNet makes all this possible for my auctions, and is our single-most important business affiliation."

Says Doug Doll, owner of KCI Kansas City: "ServNet is a tremendous asset to our auction, and we're proud to carry the ServNet logo, a mark of excellence that is recognized across the country. Collaborating with the other auctions in the ServNet group has made our auction better and stronger, as we work on the challenges that face us, not just finding good ideas but the right solutions for our local and national customers."

If ServNet and "independent" seem inseparable, it is with good reason, for all the ServNet auction owners are fiercely devoted to their businesses and are unwavering in their assertion that independent auctions offer an unparalleled level of service.

"ServNet auction owners have a lifelong commitment to their businesses and the industry, and they are actively involved in the day-to-day operations at their facilities," says R. Charles Nichols, ServNet's president and owner of BSC America's Bel Air and Tallahassee Auto Auctions. "With decades of experience behind them, in many cases spanning generations of ownership, ServNet owners share a commitment to the values that have kept our auctions at the forefront of the industry. Every customer at every ServNet auction benefits from that commitment, as well as from the opportunity to work directly with the decision-makers, who are poised to make changes quickly, responding to new customers and the requirements of an ever-changing market.

ServNet Fuels Development of Cutting-edge Technology
In a world of change, nothing has changed more dramatically than technology since ServNet's founding, and at the urging of its independent auto owners, ServNet has been on the cutting edge of the some of the industry's most progressive technological tools. ServNet's initiatives fueled the development of AutoIMS (in partnership with ADESA, Manheim and BSC America), pioneered internet-based auction selling with OnLine Ringman (eventually rebranded Pipeline Simulcast) and developed AuctionEdge, a powerful internet tool through which auction customers are able to source inventory, collect real-time market data and transact business online at any of the participating auctions.

"Pioneering simulcast technology involved tremendous vision, and not a small sacrifice on the part of ServNet and its auction owners, requiring a significant investment in capital," says John Brasher, whose family owns seven auctions in the West, all members of ServNet. "Simulcast selling wasn't immediately popular with the industry at large, but ServNet owners insisted it was the way of the future, and a tool that would enhance the auction process. Now simulcast selling is an industry standard, thanks to ServNet's vision and efforts."

"Over the course the past twenty five years, the ServNet auctions have demonstrated a commitment and vision that has put ServNet at the forefront of the industry, consistently offering superior service and results for its customers," concludes Nichols. "A strong voice and a vital influence in an ever-changing industry, ServNet auctions continue to lead not only their immediate market areas but the nation, setting new benchmarks in quality and performance, and differentiating themselves from the competition."

NAAA Posted 1/23/2013