In his year-end message to the auction industry, Eric Autenrieth, ServNet's President, surveys the group's 30th anniversary year, highlighted by the addition of the group's 23rd auction location and business solutions that will carry forward into 2019.
Another year draws to a close. As we all pause to take stock of the past 12 months, to straighten our desks in preparation for a break from the flow of traffic through our auction lanes to enjoy the holidays, I look back on a great year in business, topped by 30 years of growth and success among our group of ServNet auctions.
As I reported earlier this year, the market has continued to be interesting, though positive. Tax time took hold early and never really stopped, with the dip we generally expect to see following the arrival of refund checks not really materializing until late in the fall. While dealer inventory was lighter than in years past, our auctions made up for that in institutional business: repossessions, off-lease units and rental returns. Dealers who reported shortages in inventory looked for cars on all platforms, which has resulted in strong pricing and strong conversions.
Along with a dynamic market, customers enjoyed an exceptional customer exeperience at ServNet auctions across the country in 2018. To build on that experience, ServNet made a significant investment in Auction Edge this year to ensure the continued vitality and efficiency of our operating platform. As we saw at the convention in Scottsdale in November, Auction Edge offers a lot to be excited about: enhanced mobile tools; operational efficiencies; the ability to take technology out to the auction lot to help employees as they manage the flow of vehicles, and out on the road to assist our customers with the process of consigning, buying and selling inventory. We look forward to even more innovation from Auction Edge in the coming year and are pleased to have a role in the company's growth and development.
Business solutions will also play an important role at our Client Advisory Meeting, which is planned for the Fall of 2019 in Dallas. There we will meet with the same core group that gathered at our first Client Advisory Meeting held in 2017, where we laid the groundwork for important advances centered around auction operations and technology. In Dallas we're looking forward to reporting on the results of our efforts in providing solutions to keys issues: ensuring Condition Report consistency from auction to auction, enhancing photo quality on internet postings, and offering a national standard for key making to reduce transport costs and minimize transport delays for clients throughout the country.
This year we welcomed yet another new facility to our ranks: FastLane Auto Exchange, which joined the group this month. Owned by Greg Price, an industry veteran who comes from second-generation family lineage in the industry, FastLane Auto Exchange is taking the industry by storm, recording exponential growth since Greg took over in January of 2017. We welcome Greg to ServNet as a colleague with great experience and talent, and are pleased to expand ServNet's geographic footprint into the all-important upper Midwest region.
Not only has ServNet's presence in the market expanded but its involvement in the industry has continued to grow. This year at the NAAA Convention in Scottsdale, we saw countless examples of involved leadership offered by ServNet's auction owners. They appeared on the convention program as moderators, participated in numerous association business meetings, and served as the chair of virtually every committee within the Independent Auto Group. Convention week was highlighted by Chad Bailey's inauguration as NAAA President, followed by the induction of Bob McConkey into the NAAA Hall of Fame. I applaud all those ServNet auction owners who, in addition to attending to business at the auction, focus so much of their time and energy to nurture the health and growth of the industry. This service beyond the auction contributes to our shared success, and it is gratifying to see how much our owners contribute.
As independent auction owners, we are also mindful of the role that the next generation plays in the strength and vitality of our operations. In the coming year, we will continue to work together as a group to mentor those new to the business, to encourage our youth, and to reach out to those who need our help and support. ServNet's scholarship program continues to grow, and in 2019 we will offer eight scholarships to the children and grandchildren of ServNet auction employees. We are also happy to announce that we will work with the Hourglass Foundation to support their scholarship efforts for 2-year technical students in automotive fields. In addition to making cash donations to the scholarship program, representatives from the local ServNet auctions will reach out to high schools, two-year colleges and trade schools in their communities to make students aware of the scholarship program along with opportunities for workplace experience at the auction.
The market is ever evolving. But as consignment profiles vary and volumes adjust, ServNet auctions offer one thing that is constant: an unwavering commitment to excellence. Customers from all segments of the industry--fleet and lease companies, financial institutions, commercial remarketers, new and used car dealers--come to our auctions week after week, and year after year, because they know that a ServNet auction is where they'll find not only the best selection of cars and the best exposure in the market, but where they'll receive the very best auction experience on the planet.
Since its founding 30 years ago, ServNet auctions have consistently led the industry, adjusting to market conditions, seeking the best innovations and building for the future. With 23 of the finest auctions in the country carrying the ServNet brand, we look forward to sharing our success with both new customers and long-time auction partners, providing all with outstanding service and superior results. On behalf of all the ServNet auction owners, I express our gratitude for the great relationships we have built in the industry, for the successes we have shared in 2018 and for the promise of good things ahead in 2019. We wish you the happiest of holidays, and a prosperous New Year.