Today I have the privilege of announcing the signing of an agreement for the acquisition of vAuto by AutoTrader.com. I would like for you to understand how I arrived at this most important decision and what it means for all of us.
Over the past several years, it has become apparent that the used car business is increasingly more and more about the Internet. Further, the growing community of Velocity minded dealers have come to the realization that their business strategy depends on virtual marketing proficiency. Realizing that neither inventory nor virtual marketing proficiency alone is enough for success, the connection between our company and third-party web providers became obvious. In other words, it has become clear to me that inventory management and virtual marketing must be real-time and highly integrated. To this end, I began to consider the need to form a closer working relationship with online third-party merchandise companies.
Two years ago, I was invited to AutoTrader.com’s annual sales meeting. From the audience, I watched Chip Perry, AutoTrader’s President and CEO announce to his field staff that they would no longer be sales representatives, but rather advertising consultants. Chip told the audience that their dealer’s sales objectives had priority over their own. It was further announced that ongoing formal training would be provided to facilitate their field staff’s transition from sales to consultants. Over the past two years, I’ve had the privilege of assisting in this training process, along with other highly respected institutions, including NADA Academy and Northwood University. As I became more acquainted with the men and women at all levels of AutoTrader, I came to understand their commitment and desire to engage in this change and to serve the interests of their dealers as their first priority.
In addition, AutoTrader was willing to assist vAuto and our clients by providing access to its deep database information about vehicle supply, demand, consumer preference and behavior. I felt as though I had discovered and been given access to a treasure trove of information to assist dealers. The benefits of our mutual cooperation lead dealers to frequently ask why our two companies don’t combine to provide even more real-time and deeper integration. In essence, the decision to unite with AutoTrader was a natural and easy one.
So what does the combination of AutoTrader and vAuto mean to you? Well, first I will personally assure you that we will continue to put the interests of our clients before our own. We will also have access to even more real-time data that will improve your competitive advantage. By combining technical and data resources, our newly united companies can provide tools and services for dealers that would otherwise not be possible. Maintaining our service, improving our product and continuing to innovate are the three tenants that motivated me to take this important step.
There are obviously many questions as to how our organization will operate under the new ownership structure. First, I want you to know that our entire management team will remain intact. Further, there are no plans to modify our organization with respect to its structure or personnel. vAuto’s and AutoTrader.com’s Sales and Consulting Teams will remain in their current configurations and continue to operate separately. To be clear, the acquisition by AutoTrader.com is an express endorsement of who we are and how we conduct business. The intention is for us to continue forward with our same passion and commitment.
On a very personal level, I am extremely grateful to the extraordinarily talented and highly motivated vAuto team. To each of you that have helped bring us to this point, I want to express my greatest appreciation, admiration and gratitude. I believe our best days as an organization are ahead. With this move, we will be able to take our mission to yet an even higher level.
To our dealer clients and friends, we owe you an exceptional amount of gratitude for your loyalty and trust. We’ve gone to bed every night as you have with genuine concern for your business. I want you to know that our work together has only just begun. I’m looking forward to “wowing” you with many new and even more powerful innovations, ideas and tools.
To the broader industry of solution providers, please know that both Chip Perry and I want to continue the partnerships that we have all worked so hard to create.
Finally, I want to express my love and appreciation to my mom and dad, wife Nancy and sons Austin, Alex and Samson. You have been tremendously supportive and understanding and have made the sacrifices necessary to allow vAuto to thrive.
I will remain committed and loyal to everyone as together we enter the next phase of our relationship.