2019 Tech Award Winner Profile: Auto/Mate
CEG’s 2019 Tech Awards will be held on Thursday, June 27 from 4:30 – 7:30pm at Rivers Casino in Schenectady. Join 100s in celebrating our region’s brightest minds, innovators, researchers, technologists and organizations making a difference in our community and beyond by advancing technology across multiple industry sectors that affect our lives.
2019 Economic Winner: Auto/Mate
Auto/Mate has grown at an impressive pace over the past two decades, increasing its number of employees from 10 in 1999 to 224 today while simultaneously expanding its customer base from 100 car dealerships, primarily in the Northeast, to more than 1,600 dealerships spread across the United States.
Headquartered in Albany, Auto/Mate provides dealership management system software to retail automotive dealerships, typically saving the dealers thousands of dollars per month compared to other software options. Auto/Mate’s employees have more than 1,200 years of combined experience working in franchised auto dealerships, and the company has been recognized with multiple consecutive DrivingSales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.
“When you go into a franchise car dealer, you go through a complicated process. You see the sticker price, negotiate, sign a lot of paperwork, pick up the car, and then there is all of the service and maintenance while you own the vehicle,” explained Mike Esposito, the president and CEO of Auto/Mate since 2005. “Our system ties all of those things together, allowing for a more efficient and effective coordination between departments at the dealership and all the way back to the car manufacturer. Ultimately, the car buyer has a much better experience, too.”
Auto/Mate’s history dates to the early days of computer systems. Wang Laboratories developed the first iteration of Auto/Mate for use by automotive dealerships in the 1970’s. As Wang’s market dominance waned, Steve Fullum, a college professor who consulted to create the program, acquired the rights to Auto/Mate, founding the company in 1986. His two brothers subsequently joined him to start building the company as it is known today.
Esposito joined Auto/Mate in 1999 to direct the company’s sales and marketing efforts and has a unique perspective on the company’s growth over the course of 20 years, identifying a few distinct inflection points that created the opportunity to capture market share and bolster the company’s reputation as one of the few key players in dealership management system software.
“One of the biggest impacts on our business was in 2006 when our CTO Larry Colson decided to enrich our system architecture, which allowed us to modernize the software, making it more scalable and more responsive to the needs of our customers,” he said. “Another critical development for our growth was when Toyota tapped us to work with them on rewriting its factory communications system, which exchanges information with franchise car dealerships.”
Earlier this year, Auto/Mate announced its West Coast expansion with a new office in Arizona in response to the company’s rapid growth and associated need to deploy people, including customer support and installation teams, around the country. The company also restructured and expanded its sales and marketing teams, adding several regional sales managers.
“We need to expand our operations across the country to accommodate regional differences, expand our pool of potential employees, and provide better customer service, but we are committed to our area roots,” said Esposito. “The Capital Region is a great market for young people, especially software developers, with such a wonderful quality of life.”
– Nick Crounse, Albany-based public relations professional and writer