John Hammer Rejoins KAR as President of ADESA Business Unit
By: Jordan Head, Marketing and Public Relations Manager at GIADA
As the saying goes, “Home is where the heart is.” This was true for John Hammer when he left KAR’s Automotive Finance Corporation as CEO in 2016 to rejoin the company’s ADESA business unit as president in 2018.
Hammer served as the CEO of U.S. Auto Sales, Inc. based inLawrenceville, Georgia during his time away from KAR. He said he watched the company closely and was impressed by theirgrowth with data and technology. Ultimately, his passion for the industry played a major role in his return.
“KAR is just a great organization,” said Hammer. “I really enjoyed working here previously. I’ve been watching on the sideline as a customer and dealer for the last couple of years, so I’ve stayed close to the company. It’s been fun watching them transform their business. I really like the industry as a whole. The auction business is a lot of fun and it’s super energizing. We have a great leader in Jim Hallet and he’s a fantastic visionary to work for.”
As president, Hammer will manage all of ADESA’s operationsfrom the 75 auction locations to its online auction marketplaces. Though he has a lot on his plate, his first and main objective isunderstanding customers’ needs.
“Out the gate, I’ll take a look at the business through our customers’ perspective and focus on their interests,” said Hammer. “We must understand what they desire and put it into a plan to fulfil what they’re looking for. I’ve been the customer in a number of fronts at ADESA, its competitors and many of the independents.
“In any business, you grow by relying on customers,” he continued. “We need to develop our platform around their needs to make it as easy, efficient and productive for them as possible. If we satisfy those goals, our business will grow. They’re our customers and we need to take care of them.”
KAR Auction Services is the industry leader when it comes to data. Hammer plans to make both data and technology some ofhis focal points as president.
“We have a massive amount of data,” said Hammer. “We’ve harvested information from auction, dealer and sales data and some of the technology companies we’ve acquired. Making that data actionable for our customers will be our goal.”
“KAR and ADESA have focused on the data and technology side of business and how they integrate,” he continued. “We’re either developing, acquiring or partnering on technology to support our customers. That’ll be a big focus for the team and me; figuring out which technology works best for our customers and looking across KAR to see how we can leverage those capabilities across our business unit.”
Hammer mentioned that dealership trends have been relatively flat for a couple of years. He said some trends to look out for are fairly flat retail sales, declining margins and fewer dealerships.
“I think a trend we’ll see moving forward is more consolidation,” said Hammer. “I don’t think there will be more dealerships down the road; I believe there will be fewer andlarger dealerships. Everyone’s fighting for sales and we’ve seen margins decrease across the industry. ADESA can help dealers by maximizing their values at auctions.”
Speaking of maximizing value, Hammer believes Georgia Independent Auto Dealers Association (GIADA) is a resource for used-car dealers that does just that. He explained that Paul John, CEO of GIADA, offered backing when the independent dealers in Georgia faced regulatory challenges.
“I’d highly recommend getting involved with GIADA,” said Hammer. “Dealers should leverage the association to help them navigate through governmental regulatory issues. GIADA is the largest association of its kind in the country. We’ve received so much support from Paul John. It’s a fantastic resource for used-car dealers.”
An automotive-industry veteran, Hammer is aware of thechallenges he’ll encounter as president. He said he views the competitive landscape as one of the company’s greatest tasks.
“The competitive landscape is probably the biggest challenge we’ll face,” said Hammer. “There’s been new entrants in our space with more technology companies coming into the auction business. In some ways, we like it because competition drives us to think differently.
“Many years back, we’d think about the business down the road and always wondered what it would be like with online retailing,” Hammer continued. ”Now, we’re thinking about things like pricing analytics, logistics and data and supply chain management.”
For more on John Hammer and KAR Auction Services, visit http://karauctionservices.com/.