It seemed odd that colleagues from the earliest days of vAuto were on hand for my participation in a National Auto Auction Association panel discussion on the impact of artificial intelligence in our business.
Mandi Fang. Tracy Fred. David Rice. Chris Stutsman.
Each person was part of the team that helped me build vAuto. Each has seen their individual career grow with Cox Automotive. They’re all in Las Vegas for the NADA convention. It wasn’t entirely clear why they came to the panel—I figured they might want to hear what Cox Automotive’s chief data officer, Ben Flusberg, and I had to say about how AI is reshaping the retail and wholesale markets.
It wasn’t until we’d finished the discussion, and the emcee asked Ben and me to stay on stage, that I understood why some of the vAuto OGs had shown up. They had a secret. They knew I would be receiving a Warren Jones Fellow Award to recognize my contributions to the industry.
The award was a sweet, pleasant surprise. I had no idea it was coming.
The award itself holds special meaning. Before he became a dealer, my Dad owned the Dyer (Ind.) Auto Auction. I have fond memories of hanging out there while my Dad was working, playing around the cars and sometimes getting into trouble. In some ways, the award marks a full circle for the Pollak family.
My sincere thanks to NAAA for the honor and recognition, and their desire to keep the award presentation a secret until it happened. I must also thank my vAuto and Cox Automotive colleagues for being part of the surprise and taking time to show their love. Nice work, y’all.
All in all, the NAAA event offered a memorable start to this year’s NADA. It’s the kind of experience that only NADA can provide. Tomorrow marks the official opening of the NADA exhibit hall and a full day spent with dealers. I can’t wait.
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