A couple of months later, Schwartz said he returned with his verdict: “I said, ‘The wholesale marketplace is an amazing business. But we just need to invest. We need to invest in technology, we need to invest in digital, we need to invest in people,’ ” Schwartz said. “And [Kennedy] pretty much quite frankly gave me a blank check to do that.”
Schwartz estimates that over the past seven to eight years alone, more than a half-billion dollars have been invested in upgrading and reengineering Manheim, as well as launching products and services.
Much of that investment happened after Janet Barnard took the helm in 2014.
While she was there, $300 million to $400 million was invested in the operating platform that runs the auction. “What it did more than anything was it took very disparate standalone businesses and brought them together under one platform,” Barnard said.
Perhaps not ironically, while Manheim celebrates 75 years for its single location in Pennsylvania, it continues to become location-agnostic.
“Under the old, very decentralized standalone world, clients had to literally go location by location to do business,” Barnard said.
After the transition, clients could make one phone call or one site visit and handle all transactions in one place, through one team, she said.
Now, as chief people officer, Barnard is focused on taking the traditional work force and largely moving it mobile — if need be, they can work out of their homes or vehicles — or providing mobile services such as RideKleen. “We have to think how we create experiences for … people if they’re not tethered to a location,” she said.