2012: The Year in Review
2012: The Year in Review

Looking back over the past 12 months is always interesting — what made news? Who merged with whom? Who acquired whom? Sometimes, the best way to close out the year is to take a few minutes to remember everything that helped shape our industry. Here are a few of the highlights:

Promotions and New Hires

Obviously, there are always more promotions and new hires than we can cover in one roundup, but a few of the more notable ones included National Auto Care (NAC) appointing Christina Schrank as president. “Her understanding of technology’s role in today’s business goes hand-in-hand with where the industry is going. We’re ready to place the reigns into Christina’s very capable hands and positive that her fresh perspective will be pivotal in shaping NAC’s business strategy for the future,” said Pete Biscardi, outgoing president of NAC.

Wise F&I hired Benjamin F. Wren IV as the company's director of sales. Wren is a 25-year veteran of the automotive F&I space, with extensive experience developed through Pat Ryan, JM&A and most recently, Tony Automotive Group.

The Warranty Group hired a new CEO this year, Thomas Warsop. Warsop served as group president of distribution and sales at Fiserv Inc., where he was responsible for its depository institution services, maintaining relationships with account processing clients, and oversight of its global sales organization. "Tom brings to The Warranty Group a proven track record of strong global operational expertise and a client-focused passion," said Robert Le Blanc, chairman of The Warranty Group’s board of directors. "Merging the capabilities of The Warranty Group with Tom’s global leadership experience will deliver increased value to our clients, associates and shareholders.”

IAS promoted Matt Nowicki to vice president of retail software. Nowicki has served as the company’s director of technology since 1999, and in the new role has continued to direct innovation with responsibility for the technology development of the company’s flagship software suite, SmartDealerProducts.  

“Matt has spent the last decade taking great ideas and making them into the F&I industry’s most robust and well-designed software suite. He is passionate about the benefits of F&I software and an expert in his field,” said Bob Corbin, president and CEO of IAS.

Compli also named a new CEO: David Childers. “David brings outstanding credentials to Compli,” said Lon Leneve, president of Compli. “He is a pioneer in the governance, risk and compliance (GRC) field and has a track record for being one of the most dynamic and innovative individuals in the industry. He has also been an entrepreneur and leader in a variety of successful high technology endeavors.” Prior to joining Compli, Childers was a founder and CEO of EthicsPoint.

Safe-Guard hired new personnel, bringing in Bruce Herman as its CFO. “Bruce is a strong addition to our executive team,” said Randall Barkowitz, CEO of Safe-Guard Products. “His diverse entrepreneurial and leadership experience will be important as we continue to grow our business.”

Also naming a new CFO was GSFSGroup, who appointed Dianna Dryer to the position. “Dianna’s experience speaks for itself and her strong background fits very well with our plans for future growth,” said Steve Amos, the company's president. “The addition of Dianna to our team will pay immediate dividends to our dealers and sales team.”

Mergers and Acquisitions

Franchise Services of North America Inc. (FSNA) acquired Simply Wheelz LLC, the holding company of the Advantage Rent-A-Car brand, from Hertz. The purchase helped to fund the $2.3 billion acquisition of Dollar Thrifty.

Another newsmaker was the announcement that Genstar Capital LLC acquired Innovative Aftermarket Systems (IAS), in partnership with several senior IAS executives. IAS is an administrator and underwriter of vehicle protection products and related services sold through franchised automobile dealers. Its products are offered through a network of independent agents to automobile dealers in 49 states.

“We are very pleased with our progress and growth and look forward to working with our new partners at Genstar, whose experience will provide an added source of creativity, financial capacity and executive network to help IAS continue its growth trajectory," said Bob Corbin, who was the president and CEO of IAS, and continues as CEO after the acquisition.

AmTrust Financial Services Inc. entered into an agreement to acquire Car Care Plan (Holdings) Ltd. (CCPH) from Ally Insurance Holdings Inc. The company provides insurance and administrative services to major auto manufacturers for auto extended warranty, GAP, wholesale floor plan insurance and more.

In November, DealerTrack Holdings Inc. changed its name to Dealertrack Technologies to reflect a new business strategy and brand identity. Earlier in the year, the company acquired ClickMotive LP, a provider of interactive marketing solutions for the automotive retailing industry. ClickMotive, which was established in 2005 and based in Plano, Texas, created a digital marketing platform that combines Web, mobile, search, social, video, inventory, call-tracking, tag and dashboard tools to generate qualified leads and increase sales for automotive groups and individual franchised dealers.

"With this acquisition, we are able to significantly expand the website and interactive marketing capability we acquired with eCarList," said Mark O'Neil, chairman and CEO of Dealertrack. "Additionally, we believe this acquisition will enhance the competitive positioning of our inventory solution and expand our relationship with a number of key OEMs."

Finally, Hertz and Dollar Thrify plan to merge. The deal created a multi-brand, multi-million dollar car rental platform that gives the corporation global reach. Hertz Chairman and CEO Mark P. Frissora said at the time, "We are pleased to have finally reached an agreement with Dollar Thrifty after a lengthy — but worthwhile — pursuit. We have always believed that a combination with Dollar Thrifty is the best strategic option for both companies. The transaction provides Hertz instant scale with two new, well-established brands with airport concession infrastructure in the mid-tier value segment. We'll be a stronger global competitive player with a full range of rental options not only in the U.S. but in Europe and other markets given Dollar Thrifty's strong international presence."