NPA San Diego BBQ cooks up auction fever

Clean, low-mileage bikes a hit with dealers

Editor’s note: Powersports Business editor in chief Dave McMahon attended the National Powersport Auctions 24th anniversary BBQ celebration at NPA’s San Diego headquarters last month. 

Prior to the Friday auction, dealers came out in full force on Thursday to preview the bikes and enjoyed a BBQ dinner under a sun-soaked afternoon that included mechanical bull rides and a DJ. VIP guests from NPA’s lender and transportation partners also were on hand as part of the event.

Following are excerpts from an interview with NPA marketing director Ryan Keefe conducted during a brief respite on the frenzied auction day.

(From left) Market/data analysts Brett Boyer and Alex Lezama from NADA Guides and NPA marketing director Ryan Keefe prepared for the San Diego auction.

(From left) Market/data analysts Brett Boyer and Alex Lezama from NADA Guides and NPA marketing director Ryan Keefe prepared for the San Diego auction.

PSB: How/why did you pick the 24th as a celebration?

RK: Every year we celebrate each location’s anniversary by doing something nice for our dealers. Each location varies, but it usually entails lunch, giveaways and drinks. It’s a way for NPA to say thank you. A few years ago we decided to extend the celebration to the day before our live San Diego auction and invite dealers to spend a few hours relaxing, since San Diego is where it all started 24 years ago. 

PSB: What did you hope to accomplish by hosting the event, and did you succeed?

RK: Our main goal in hosting the event is to tell our dealers, lenders and transporters thank you. You build great relationships with people over 24 years, and we want them to know we appreciate their business and friendship. It’s also a great way for our staff and guests to interact with each other in a fun, relaxed environment. We definitely accomplished all these again this year.

PSB: How many units were up for bid in the San Diego auction?

RK: We had over 1,000 units for our Anniversary Auction ranging from motorcycles and ATVs to RVs and boats. 

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PSB: What were some of the main sources for the inventory?

RK: Like all our auctions, the Anniversary Auction featured vehicles from bank and credit union repossessions, dealer consignments, leasing companies, insurance companies and others. 

The July auction at NPA headquarters in San Diego featured more than 1,000 available to dealers only.

The July auction at NPA headquarters in San Diego featured more than 1,000 available to dealers only.

PSB: How was the dealer participation for this time of year?

RK: It was above average for this time of year. This was partly due to the added draw of the anniversary event, but is also reflective of the longer riding and retail season we are seeing this year.

PSB: How were the winning bids compared to similar models at the summer 2013 San Diego auction? Were prices higher or lower?

RK: Prices in 2014 are generally higher than what we saw in 2013, including the Anniversary Auction. But this is due more to general market conditions than the event itself. With that being said, we are seeing overall auction prices decline with the summer and fall season, like they do every year. 

PSB: What type of bikes or units were dealers looking for in particular? Did certain models or years bring higher pricing?

RK: This time of year, when they are beginning to dial back their inventory levels, dealers tend to prefer cleaner, lower-mileage units. As a result, we saw the price gap between clean and rough units increase somewhat. 2014 Harley-Davidsons are still popular right now, as were the handful of 2014 Indian motorcycles we had on hand. The Western market still has a strong appetite for ATVs, PWCs and clean motocross bikes as well.

PSB: How has pre-owned wholesale financing changed the way dealers can grow their inventory via auction buys? Is there an average percentage of how much of their total purchased is done via financing?

RK: Wholesale financing definitely plays a big part in a dealer’s success. Some of the wholesale lenders we work with even have 100 percent advance rates for vehicles bought exclusively at NPA. Franchise dealers have wholesale credit readily available to them if they choose to use it. Wholesale financing for independent dealers is still more challenging. That’s one of the reasons we offer our private-label NPA Dealer Financing program, so that non-franchise can have similar purchasing power at auction. I think one of the biggest, yet underutilized benefits of wholesale financing is the ability to floor bikes purchased off the street. With over 1 million powersport vehicles being sold each year through private parties, this gives dealers a great opportunity to start driving those transactions through their own doors.

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