Jeremy Louisos from Preowned Auto Logistics talks with Joe Overby from Auto Remarketing about Used Car Week 2022 in San Diego, including how this week combines five conferences in one, and what to expect from this year’s conference.
Jeremy Louisos: Hi, my name is Jeremy Louisos and I’m here today with Joe Overby, Senior Editor at Auto Remarketing, the news media for the pre-owned auto industry. Our topic today is Used Car Week 2022, an event beginning November 14th in San Diego, California, combining five different conferences uniting all corners of the used car industry. Welcome, Joe.
Joe Overby: Jeremy, it’s so good to talk with you and appreciate you having me on.
Jeremy: It’s a pleasure, yeah. We did this thing last year ahead of the event. It was our first time attending Used Car Week and you gave us a great rundown. We are very excited to have you back and pick up this conversation again. Just jumping right into it, who attends Used Car Week and why?
Who Attends Used Car Week?
Joe: Yeah, so it kind of runs the spectrum of people in the auto industry. I’ve actually got an attendee list pulled up here. It’s a couple weeks old, but I mean, just looking at some of the names and companies they work in, I mean, we have dealers, we have auto auctions, companies that work with both, a lot of the tech providers, a lot of the vendors in the space, transportation companies, auto finance companies, people that work with auto auctions, the reconditioning companies, companies that do online auctions, some of the trade groups. It really spans the spectrum of retail, remarketing, the collections and recovery space.
Then one of our relatively new conferences that we’ve added to Used Car Week is the NAVIcon. That gets into the investment and VC, venture capital, portions of automotive and a lot of startups. A lot of the auto makers, a lot of the companies that have CPO programs, they’re here for the pre-owned con. So it really runs kind of a wide array of automotive companies, anybody who operates in used cars to some degree.
Jeremy: Yeah. Looking over that guest list myself, and then from my own experience last year, it really seems like there is something for everybody, and you’ve put some thought into really encapsulating that whole used car industry ecosystem. Very commendable there and I look forward to trying to soak in as much of it as I can. We’ve kind of touched on it, but what makes Used Car Week such a special event?
What Makes Used Car Week Special?
Joe: It’s a holistic conference made up of five niche conferences. Each of the five different conferences…the Pre-owned Con is very focused on the dealer space. Not even just the dealer space, it’s the used car dealer space within the pre-owned operations of the auto dealer. The Auto Fin Con really is about obviously the auto finance industry, but also the FinTech piece of that. The Repo Con is largely about the collections, recovery spaces, very niche area. The National Marketing Conference gets into auctions and wholesale and consigner and very much the wholesale side of things. And the NAVICon, which stands for, by the way, the National Automotive Venture & Investment Conference, that gets into the funding, the investment piece of automotive.
You have five conferences that really could, on their own, be their own conference. And for a while, that’s actually what we did. We had individual conferences that were throughout the year and probably, gosh, 12 years ago – 10-12 years ago – we combined them into one conference because we felt like there was a lot of overlap or there was a lot of ways that somebody going to the Auto Fin Con could also learn something by going to Pre-owned Con sessions. And somebody who’s at Pre-owned Con may want to stick around for the National Marketing Conference to learn a little bit about the wholesale side of the business. I think it’s a good opportunity to step outside of your specific lane in automotive and learn how it relates to other pieces of the used car industry.
Jeremy: You’d mentioned that this conference has been going on for quite some time in different configurations, and even in its current form of all these different parts of the industry brought into one. And thank you for the acronym explanation for NAVIcon. I did not know that so that’s a new piece of information for me. Having run this event for so many years, is there anything new and exciting about this year’s Used Car Week?
What New and Exciting for Used Car Week 2022?
Joe: Yeah, absolutely. We actually are going to be back in San Diego for the first time since 2003, so almost nine years ago. We hadn’t been there in a while; just with the hotel shuffling, you plan these years in advance. And finally, we’re back on the rotation of being back in San Diego. It’s kind of like when the ACC has its basketball tournament, it kind of rotates between Greensboro and Charlotte and Atlanta and Brooklyn, and now we’re rotating back to Southern California, so we’re excited about that.
As part of that, we’re bringing back the golf outing. Years ago, I would say it’s about the last time we were in San Diego, Wednesday morning right at the halfway point of Used Car Week, we have a golf outing and we’re bringing that back this year. It’s going to be at Torrey Pines, which is kind of a big, famous PGA golf course.
And the expo hall, this year, we’re excited about. We always encourage our exhibitors to think differently and try to add something to their booth, do something different than the other exhibitors are doing to draw. One of them is doing stock car racing, that is Preowned Auto Logistics, which you know all about, and then we’ve got a golf simulator by cars.com. It’s kind of cool to see the exhibitors try something else out and add a little side entertainment to the expo hall.
Speaking of us being on a podcast right now, we are doing a Used Car Week podcast stage this year. We basically invited people in the industry who have podcasts who want to come and record episodes of their shows to do so there. It’s going to be pretty close to the main registration desk. It’s going to be in the foyer, it’s called the Palm Foyer, which is near the reg desk and in the main hub of the conference floor. The sound there won’t be projected, but it’ll be a lot of fly-by traffic where people are walking by and are able to just see behind the curtain of how a podcast is made.
We’ve also added a few different awards programs this year. We divided our 40 Under 40 program up into two different programs, one for the dealer side and then one for the industry side. It hasn’t been an awards program, so to speak, it’s just been a ranking every year of the top best-selling CPO dealers in the country. And this year we decided, “let’s recognize those dealers at a breakfast”, which we’re going to be doing on November 15th, which I believe is the Tuesday of that week. We’ve also added a Women in Collections and Recoveries, which is going to be part of a lunch, in recognition. And then we are bringing back our lifetime achievement award.
Lot of different, kind of new, but also bringing back things that we’ve done in the past. Yeah, and then just being in San Diego, I mean, it’s such a cool place and it’ll be nice to go there November, where we’re on the East Coast here, it’s going to be quite chilly probably in two weeks, so it’ll be nice to be in sunny California.
Jeremy: That’s a fantastic highlight reel. This new and exciting stuff ends up being some of the pieces of the conference that I’m most looking forward to. I’ve never been to San Diego before. I’m always excited when the weather’s cold in New England to branch out to the lovely southern places of the United States. Awesome job selecting that location. I just heard a lot of enthusiasm around San Diego and not going back to Vegas for those who are kind of traveling in that circle pretty routinely. Nothing against Vegas, love Vegas, but just to mix it up in that way I think was a really cool move.
And thank you for mentioning the NASCAR simulator. That’s obviously something we’re excited to be a part of, and I can’t wait to check out that golf simulator thing; sounds pretty cool as well.
I also want to thank you for inviting us to be part of that podcast stage. This’ll be an interesting iteration for what we’re doing here, and we’re excited to see what that’s all about and do our thing in front of a larger audience. Those are some of the things that we were pretty excited about. We have some honorees for the 40 Under 40 and Women Remarketing and appreciate those honors as well. That’s what I’m looking forward to. But Joe Overby, what specifically are you excited about and looking forward to?
What Are You Excited About?
Joe: Yeah. I’m most excited, perhaps self-serving…one of my favorite things to do at these conferences is being able to moderate panels. And I’m getting to do, I think, about six of them this year, a couple each day. And so that’s a lot of fun. I mean, I love being up on the stage and just chatting with these people who are so well versed in their specific segments of automotive, and that’s something I look forward to. It’s a challenge and it’s a process, putting those panels together and figuring out who’s available and who can make it and what the topics will be, and just all the logistics that come with it. But it’s a lot of fun once we get on site and talking with those people. And it’s really a way to make what Nick Zulovich and I cover every day kind of come to life in person and being able to take something that we write about and really explored in depth in a 30 minute panel.
We had Used Car Week last year and it was great to finally be back in person. And after two years of mostly not having conferences, it still feels fresh to get back and see people in person. I’ve heard several people just bring this up over the years, but the best part about being at a conference is just those collisions you make. You might be just going down to the Starbucks at the hotel to get a coffee, and you run into somebody that you hadn’t seen in two years that works at some company in your industry, and you have a five minute conversation. And that’s kind of the cool moments that I always enjoy about work travel in general, but really these automotive conferences and Used Car Week in particular.
Jeremy: Yeah, that’s fantastic. I have had those collisions myself and find that a lot of the stuff…I mean at the event I’ve watched you and Nick up on stage and can vouch for your talents, probing questions. I always love watching any sessions the two of you are hosting and moderating. But the stuff that happens outside of those rooms sometimes or even outside of the hours, you’re in this place with all these folks in the industry, and you’re going to bump into people, maybe it’s someone you don’t know, but you say, “Hey, I just saw you up on stage a couple hours ago and you mentioned something about whatever it was.” And there you go, you’re off and you’ve made a new connection, new contact, potentially new friend.
Joe: And a lot of that, it does happen spontaneously. But by design, we’ve built in a lot of networking time. I mean, between each group of workshops or group of panel discussions, we have the 15 minute networking breaks where even if you’re going out to grab a snack or a cup of coffee, you have a chance to chit chat with somebody for a minute. And then at the end of each day, we have a reception. And a lot of times the ones that are sponsored, we’ll have different themes to them.
The opening day, obviously Monday, we’re going to have sort of a football themed one with kind of taking advantage of it being in the middle of football season. And I think having those events, both planned and spontaneous, just creates a lot of opportunity to make new friends and professional, new colleagues and that sort of thing, but also just new friends and have some interesting conversations.
Jeremy: Yeah, I think of, actually, the last time we bumped into each other at a reception, some great conversations that actually ended up in a game of corn hole. I thought I’d make a quick mention, we are bringing our boards down. I know you’re going to be a very busy guy, but if we could steal you for a game, we’d love to play.
Joe: Oh nice, very cool, yes, absolutely. Yeah, I’ll be over there for it.
Jeremy: Awesome, awesome. And we always love to close with this question. What advice would you give to attendees looking to get the most out of this experience?
Advice for Attendees
Joe: I think whether you are an exhibitor, whether you’re an attendee, just kind of learning your specific piece of automotive, whether you’re there for meetings, to borrow from the old, I think it was an IBM slogan, “Think Different”. Go do something different that you maybe didn’t come to Used Car Week for. Maybe you came for the Pre-owned Con and you were just going to go to those sessions all week. Step out and go to Auto Fin Con sessions or go to the NRC sessions. If you’re in the expo hall, if you’re an exhibitor, try something different like Preowned Auto Logistics, and even if it’s not a NASCAR simulator, try something different in your booth to spark a conversation.
Go out to dinner with somebody you haven’t gotten to sit down and break bread with. Just do something different. Try new experiences each day that you’re there, because there’s plenty of opportunities to do it.
And I would say, also, just wear comfortable shoes, because with the amount of walking that’s done, by the end of it, your dogs will be barking.
Jeremy: From experience, that is a real pro tip from a real pro. Joe, this has been great. Thank you so much for bringing us through this. Joe, where can people connect with you, Auto Remarketing and Used Car Week?
Joe: Sure. Well, our website, autoremarketing.com. And then usedcarweek.biz. And then on LinkedIn. I’m on LinkedIn. Just look for Joe Overby. And also, if you follow our Cherokee Media group on LinkedIn, we’re always posting conference information. And we’re also using the #usedcarweek22 on LinkedIn and Twitter and other social media, so look for those tags, and you’ll see all the members of our team and people on our conference squad are always posting things. And so you’ll find the latest information, some updates and pictures and that sort of thing.
And that reminds me, during Used Car Week, we’ll be sending out photos from the event on our Flickr account, and we’ll include those in our Auto Remarketing e-newsletters. If you’re on site at Used Car Week and want to check those out, just stay tuned to autoremarketing.com and our e-newsletters.
Jeremy: Will do. Thanks again, Joe. It’s always a pleasure to speak with you. You can catch PAL and the rest of the team at Used Car Week manning the NASCAR simulator booth, as Joe mentioned, and anytime at preownedautologistics.com. Thanks for listening.