Written by Barbara Toombs
Rick Solis’ love of cars came through at an early age. He remembers his grandfather in southern Illinois introducing him to his 1969 Ford LTD when he was just 8 or 9 years old. “He taught me how to drive that when I was really little,” Rick remembers. “That’s when my passion started.” While most of the driving he did as a youth was with his grandfather in that Ford, Rick’s passion for the automobile was unquestionably bolstered by his great uncle, who had a Jaguar XKE. “I learned how to drive in the streets of Chicago in that Jag,” chuckles Rick, “but my uncle didn’t trust me to hit the gas, so I sat in his lap and just steered.”
Little did he know at that time that one day he’d be steering collector car owners to send some of the most sought-after vehicles in the world across the Barrett-Jackson auction block. As the company’s Outreach Team Manager, Rick seeks out high-value, quality cars and brings them to auction, working closely with customers so they understand the consignment process and how Barrett-Jackson works.
“I really enjoy talking to customers and helping them realize that we’re partners in this together,” says Rick. “Our job as an organization is to manage expectations and help the seller achieve the highest value for their vehicle based on what it is worth – and nobody does that better than one of the oldest and best collector car auction companies in the country: Barrett-Jackson.”
Rick’s expertise with customer service began in his 20s, working in the corporate world for a number of Fortune 500 companies and then healthcare before deciding to combine his love of classic cars with his career. He has a couple of collector cars of his own – a 1971 Chevelle Malibu with a small-block 350ci engine he uses as a driver, and a 1950 Pontiac Silver Streak in Midnight Blue – and enjoyed watching auctions on TV. That prompted him to start work with a small collector car auction company in Arizona. “I fell in love with the auction industry through that job,” Rick admits. “I was able to learn all the facets of the auction business – not just consigning cars, but everything from the inside out, as opposed to the outside in.”
After about three years, he crossed paths with a man who had a classic car museum in Miami, Florida, and wanted Rick to start up an auction company for him. Rick took the leap, creating an entire auction himself, from the website and online bidding to acquiring bidders and coordinating all the paperwork. “I was a one-man show for an entire year,” he says. “It helped me learn even more about the auction business.”
Through those experiences, Rick had a newfound appreciation of Barrett-Jackson. “I realized how it took years and years to build up what Barrett-Jackson has,” he says. He wanted to be a part of the action, and reached out to the company to see if he could assist with the upcoming Palm Beach Auction from his base in Florida. Rick was offered a sales position in late 2015 and shut down his Miami-based auction business, devoting himself full-time to building relationships with current and future Barrett-Jackson consignors.
“My favorite part of my job is explaining to customers about the power of No Reserve; how it works and how we differ from our competitors,” he says. “We need to make our customers feel at ease with the process. They have skin in the game, so I understand they need to feel comfortable. One of the biggest advantages we have at Barrett-Jackson is our transparency – the customer knows where they stand with us before they commit. At the end of the day, there’s no auction company that’s going to assist you in getting the true market value of a car better than Barrett-Jackson.”
When he’s not traveling around the country hunting down beautiful cars, Rick enjoys spending time at home in Florida with his wife Jocelyn and their two boys: Maverick, age 4, and Silas, age 1. While Rick admits he’s not “that big of a car guy” where he could restore a vehicle, he enjoys tinkering with his Chevelle and Pontiac while young Maverick works on his Lightning McQueen battery-operated car with this Lightning McQueen tool sets. “He’s definitely got an interest in cars,” chuckles Rick. “All he has in his bedroom is cars!”
Rick admits he’s got his eye on a couple more cars to add to his collection at some point. Perhaps harkening back to his very first car at the age of 16 (a 1978 Pontiac Firebird) he says a Bandit Trans Am is high on his list. His ultimate goal, however, is an older Ferrari, maybe a 308 or F355. “Anything with a prancing horse logo on the steering wheel and I’m game!” he laughs.