Copy

18 — May 11, 2017

 

IMPORTANT EDITOR’S NOTE

Effective immediately, we are no longer using our old “thegreensheetonline.com” email addresses. These email accounts are being taken offline, and we will no longer be able to be reached using these addresses.

Please check that you have us in your media lists and contacts using our “autocareweek.com” email addresses, as they will be the only active accounts going forward.

The following are our current, valid email addresses …
gary@autocareweek.com — Gary Molinaro, Publisher
marc@autocareweek.com — Marc Vincent, Editor
sarah@autocareweek.com — Sarah Hollander, Managing Editor

— Thank you!

 

Jefferies Expects More Automotive Acquisitions From GPC

Jefferies LLC hosted meetings with the management of the Genuine Parts Co. (GPC) last week and addressed a number of takeaways in a report dated May 5. According to Jefferies, the management of GPC appeared optimistic that the “low-water mark” in U.S. automotive was seen in the early part of the 2017 first quarter.

“Full-year guidance of a 2-percent to 3-percent comparable-store sales increase for NAPA U.S. — while lower than international automotive comps of mid-to upper-single-digits — implies sequential improvement to offset the -1 percent comp posted in Q1,” Jefferies analysts Bret Jordan, David Kelley and Mark Jordan wrote. “We believe recent channel commentary around improving Q2 trends … and a regional uptick in northern markets supports GPC’s somewhat less cautious outlook on core automotive growth.”

Jefferies also noted that the automotive acquisition pipeline appears more robust with smaller chains, adding that international growth will outpace domestic.

“Management’s comments that the current 6,000 store base could expand by roughly 25 percent with existing infrastructure opens the door to continued store acquisitions,” the analysts wrote. “With 26 stores acquired in three transactions year-to-date and competitor M&A activity accelerating (O’Reilly Automotive acquired 48 stores in Q4), we see continued consolidation of the fragmented independent distributor base. Notably, small chain acquisitions should be rapidly accretive, as buying power and distribution efficiency improves with scale.”

Jefferies’ report also stated: “As auto parts sales in Australia/New Zealand, Canada and Mexico (15 percent of GPC revenue) were all noted to be ‘comping’ better than NAPA U.S. — with Australia and Mexico up mid-single-digits or better — we expect continued investment in foreign distribution. Specifically, commentary regarding the entry into auto parts distribution in Malaysia and Thailand lead us to expect either a JV or acquisition in southeast Asia in 2017.”

 

Acquisitions Continue To Send Uni-Select’s Net Sales Higher

Acquisitions continue to lead the way for Uni-Select Inc., as the Boucherville, Quebec-based distributor saw its consolidated net sales increase by $33.17 million, or 12.6 percent, to $297.20 million in the first quarter of 2017. The main driver here was recent acquisitions made in the United States that added $44.50 million in sales during the 2017 quarter.

However, Uni-Select’s consolidated organic sales declined by $15.28 million, or 5.8 percent, largely because of a product line changeover in its FinishMaster U.S. segment, along with the loss of an independent member in the Canadian Automotive Group. Without these impacts, Uni-Select would have reported 0.6 percent organic sales growth for the three months ended March 31, 2017.

The company’s FinishMaster U.S. sales increased by $26.29 million, or 15.2 percent, to $199.70 million, strengthened by business acquisitions, representing growth of 23.7 percent. The aforementioned product line changeover impacted sales by approximately 7.7 percent. FinishMaster U.S. organic sales declined by $14.79 million, or 8.5 percent.

Canadian Automotive Group sales increased by $6.88 million, or 7.6 percent, to $97.50 million — a direct result of recent business acquisitions and currency conversion. The group’s organic sales declined by $495,000, or 0.5 percent; however, organic growth was positive when it came to corporate stores. Excluding the impact from the loss of an independent member, Canadian Automotive Group organic sales would have increased 3.4 percent, attributable to current customer growth and new independent members joining the network.

Uni-Select’s consolidated gross margin rose 17.3 percent to $93.92 million in the quarter. Gross margin, as a percentage of sales, grew by 1.3 percent, going from 30.3 percent a year ago to 31.6 percent for the three months ended March 31, 2017. Management attributed the increase to optimized buying conditions, partially offset by a different revenue mix.

The company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 6.8 percent to $23.17 million. However, Uni-Select’s EBITDA margin slipped, going from 8.2 percent to 7.8 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Uni-Select’s net earnings declined 4.2 percent to just under $11 million, attributable to additional amortization and finance costs related to recent business acquisitions.

Five business acquisitions were concluded during the first quarter of 2017, and one greenfield store was opened, expanding Uni-Select’s store network to more than 270 locations.

“We are pleased with our ongoing initiatives, in particular, our ability to acquire and successfully integrate select companies into our network, benefiting our sales and EBITDA growth,” said Henry Buckley, the president and CEO of Uni-Select. “Our Canadian business experienced solid organic sales growth during the quarter in the corporate stores as well as with our independent customers, excluding one independent member loss. Total sales of FinishMaster U.S. were impacted, as expected, by the product line changeover.

“Our free cash flows for the quarter increased, and we continue to be focused on optimizing our business. We are highly committed to delivering balanced profitable growth for the long term by building a solid foundation, implementing organic sales growth initiatives and through the expansion of both networks.”        — Marc Vincent

 

Double-Digit Sales, Income Growth For Standard Motor Products In Q1

Standard Motor Products (SMP) got 2017 off to a strong start, posting $15.73 million in net income for the three months ended March 31, 2017 — up 28.9 percent over the previous year. Net sales rose 18.2 percent to $282.38 million, attributable to strong pre-season Temperature Control sales, as well as sales from the May 2016 acquisition of General Cable’s automotive ignition wire business. Excluding the General Cable volume, SMP’s consolidated net sales were up 8.4 percent year-over-year.

SMP’s Engine Management sales increased 17 percent to $211.31 million. Excluding the incremental sales from the General Cable acquisition, Engine Management net sales would have been up only 4 percent when compared to the same period of 2016.

Taking a closer look at SMP’s Engine Management revenue for the quarter, we note that Ignition, Emission & Fuel System Parts sales grew 7.2 percent to $165.15 million, while Wire & Cable sales rose 73.7 percent to $46.16 million.

Meanwhile, Temperature Control sales increased 23.8 percent to $70.29 million, which management said represents an uptick in preseason stocking orders, as 2016 was a strong air conditioning year. A closer look at the company’s first-quarter Temperature Control revenue shows that Compressors sales rose 39.1 percent to $37.92 million, while Other Climate Control Parts sales grew 9.7 percent to $32.37 million.

“Sales were obviously quite strong; however, it’s important to note that, in both of our divisions, a portion of the sales was geared toward customer pipelines rather than strong demand through the channel,” President and CEO Eric Sills explained on a May 3 conference call. “As you’ve seen from first-quarter earnings calls from our large, publicly traded customers, Q1 was a bit of a challenge overall. And, we did see that to varying degrees with how they did with our product lines as well.”

“In Engine Management, our customers’ POS was slightly down. Meanwhile, their purchases from us were up fairly substantially. If you exclude the acquired General Cable business, our Engine Management sales out were about 4 percent up,” Sills told analysts on the call. “A few of our customers determined the need to expand their assortment and deployed broader inventories throughout their system. They, therefore, placed heavier-than-normal line-update orders as they reset their planograms. As you know, a key to growth in the DIFM business is to have broad coverage and rapid delivery. So, working with our category management team, they identified coverage gaps and sought to fill those gaps.”

“In Temp Control, our customers did post slight increases in POS, but the dollars are small, as Q1 is always a light quarter,” Sills said. “As a weather-related business, our first quarter is almost entirely about preseason orders, as our customers get ready for the summer. We see this every year. But this year, the preseason orders have come in heavier, which reflects the impact of last year’s hot summer, where they ended the season a bit lighter on inventory than usual.”

SMP’s gross profit increased 15.2 percent to $84.11 million; however, gross margin slipped from 30.6 percent to 29.8 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Engine Management gross margin decreased from 31.7 percent to 30.3 percent due, in part, to the impact of slightly lower margins at the North American automotive ignition wire business of General Cable. Temperature Control gross margin increased from 24.8 percent to 25.2 percent, primarily attributable to higher production volumes.         — Marc Vincent

 

SMP Updates Analysts On Plant, Production Moves

Long Island City, NY-based Standard Motor Products (SMP) is in midst of several major moves, and management updated analysts on the company’s progress during a May 3 conference call. “We’re nearing the anniversary of [the General Cable acquisition], and, other than planned integration inefficiencies, it’s performing quite well. Sales have been solid, and we’ve retained all the accounts,” said President and CEO Eric Sills. “We’ve greatly improved our shipping performance, our fill rates across the board to all of these accounts, and the acquired plant in Nogales, [Mexico] is doing really quite well.

“The integration is proceeding on plan. As announced, the distribution all moved last year, and we have now moved the manufacturing for several accounts without any hiccups. We’re on target with the build-out of an additional 75,000 square feet in our Reynosa, [Mexico] wire plant to accommodate the balance of the production lines, which will all be moved by the end of the first quarter of next year.”

SMP also is consolidating the General Cable distribution center in Altoona, PA into an existing SMP wire distribution center in Edwardsville, KS.

The company has been working on other plant moves, too. “We’re making strides in winding down our Grapevine, TX plant — a project we’ve been working on since early last year,” Sills told analysts on the call. “To remind you, there were two elements in Grapevine, where we did all of our diesel products as well as a bunch of our Temperature Control.

“All of the diesel lines have now moved to our injector plant in Greenville, SC and are performing really quite well. Greenville is our center of excellence for fuel delivery products, and we are excited to see what they are going to be able to do with this line.

“The Temp Control products are all slated to move to Reynosa. We’ve expanded into an additional building there, which is now fully up and running. We’ve moved several of the lines already and have a handful of lines left to go. We’re on target to be out of Grapevine by the end of the year, and we’re actively marketing the building.”

SMP also is in the process of closing its electronics plant in Orlando, FL and relocating it to Independence, KS. “Orlando is an excellent high-tech plant but quite small, less than 50 people and only about 50,000 square feet. Meanwhile, Independence is quite large and diverse and manufactures many other similar electronic products, and they can easily absorb all the Orlando production and allow us to be a much more effective manufacturer,” Sills explained. “This will be a multi-phased move, which will take us into the middle of next year to complete. The first phase will soon be underway, and everything is on schedule.”        — Marc Vincent

 

Johnson Controls Reports 3% Decline In Aftermarket Battery Shipments

Johnson Controls’ Power Solutions unit (its batteries segment) saw net sales increase by $113 million, or 7.1 percent, to just under $1.70 billion for the three months ended March 31, 2017. Management attributed the Power Solutions sales growth to the positive impact of higher lead costs on pricing ($127 million), as well as favorable pricing and product mix ($30 million). This was partially offset by lower volume ($40 million) and the unfavorable impact of foreign currency translation ($4 million).

Excluding the impact of higher lead pass-through and foreign exchange, segment organic sales declined 1 percent, attributable to warmer weather in both North America and China, which negatively impacted aftermarket demand.

Global OE battery shipments were consistent with the prior year, while aftermarket shipments declined 3 percent due to the timing of shipments related to customer demand patterns.

Power Solutions’ earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 7.4 percent to $303 million, attributable to favorable pricing and product mix net of lead cost increases ($19 million); higher equity income ($14 million); and lower selling, general and administrative expenses, as a result of productivity savings ($10 million). This was partially offset by lower volume ($12 million) and higher operating costs ($10 million).

Excluding the impact of foreign exchange and lead, adjusted segment EBITA increased 12 percent. Adjusted segment EBITA margin of 17.9 percent increased 10 basis points compared with the prior-year quarter, including a 220-basis-point headwind related to the impact of lead. Excluding the impact of lead, adjusted segment EBITA margin increased 230 basis points year-over-year.

 

Parts Authority Recognizes Top Vendors

Parts Authority, a New York-based member of the National Pronto Association, has presented its 2017 Supplier of the Year award to The Timken Co. Others vendor partners recognized during Parts Authority’s May 2 celebration at Citi Field were …
• Factory Rep of the Year: Rodney Whitlow of Denso;
• Manufacturer Rep of the Year: Robbie Riefberg of the SRS Marketing Co.;
• Manufacturer Rep of the Year: Mike Padover of Automotive Aftermarket Representatives;
• Manufacturer Rep of the Year: Justin Masseo of Glazier Sales Associates;
• Outstanding Service Rep of the Year: Mike Steubing of Standard Motor Products;
• Outstanding Service Rep of the Year: Hank Nas of A1 Cardone; and
• Outstanding Service Rep of the Year: Leon DeLong of Standard Motor Products.

According to the company, over 3,500 customers, vendors and Parts Authority team members attended the event.

 

Spectrum’s Global Auto Care Sales Fell 0.4% Mainly Due To Weather

The Global Auto Care (GAC) segment of Spectrum Brands Holdings saw its net sales decrease by $500,000, or 0.4 percent, to $119 million for the three months ended April 2, 2017. Organic GAC sales decreased by $400,000, or 0.3 percent, primarily because of lower auto appearance product sales of $3.80 million related to cooler weather conditions. This was partially offset by an increase in refrigerant product sales of $2.90 million from implemented price increases in response to product cost increases, as well as a marginal increase in licensing and auto performance products.

GAC’s operating income decreased 11.3 percent to $34.50 million. Operating margin declined by 360 basis points to 29 percent, attributable to the drop in sales volume, higher marketing costs for new product introductions and increased depreciation. According to management, this was offset by improved product mix.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) decreased 6.6 percent, while adjusted EBITDA margin declined 250 basis points to 38.2 percent, related to the downturn in sales volume and higher marketing costs for new product introductions, partially offset by improved product mix.

GAC is Spectrum Brands’ automotive appearance and performance products division. This consists of Armor All appearance products (protectants, wipes, tire and wheel care products, glass cleaners, leather care products, air fresheners, and washes); STP performance products (automotive fuel and oil additives, as well as functional fluids); and A/C Pro recharge items (DIY air conditioner recharge products, refrigerant and oil recharge kits, sealants, and accessories).

 

Arrowhead Adds Aftermarket Axle Specialist Interparts

The Riverside Co., a private equity firm, and co-investor Investcorp have acquired Interparts as an add-on to its Arrowhead Engineered Products platform. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Plainview, NY-based Interparts distributes branded replacement axles, joints and components for the powersports, industrial and automotive aftermarkets. Arrowhead Electrical Products of Blaine, MN is a global distributor of rotating electrical parts and their components.

“Interparts is a highly regarded market leader in aftermarket replacement axles for powersports vehicles,” said Riverside managing partner Suzy Kriscunas. “This acquisition introduces an attractive new product category for Arrowhead to sell into its existing customer base and targeted end markets.”

Riverside principal Brad Roberts added: “By combining Interparts’ product category leadership and Arrowhead’s new product development and sales and marketing infrastructure, we can accelerate sales and margin growth of the business.”

Riverside and Investcorp plan to continue building Arrowhead both organically and through acquisition. Interparts represents the fourth acquisition completed since Riverside’s initial platform acquisition in 2015. They are …
• Spring 2016: the C&E Companies (Urbandale, IA), which manufactures and distributes aftermarket and OEM engine components, primarily for the powersports industry;
• Fall 2016: Stens (Jasper, IN), which distributes aftermarket replacement parts to the outdoor power equipment, golf, and industrial end markets; and
• Winter 2016: J&N (Cincinnati), which distributes aftermarket replacement rotating electrical parts and accessories used in a variety of off-highway markets, including industrial, agricultural, marine and outdoor power equipment.

 

LKQ Generates Record Q1 Revenue, Aided By Acquisitions

Chicago-based LKQ Corp. delivered a record $2.34 billion in total revenue for the first quarter of 2017 — an increase of $421.37 million, or 21.9 percent, over the previous year. The company’s gross margin grew 22.3 percent to $930.09 million, and net income rose 21.5 percent to $136.28 million.

LKQ’s parts and services revenue increased by $394.62 million, or 21.7 percent, to $2.21 billion for the three months ended March 31, 2017. Adjusting for acquisitions and foreign exchange, organic parts and services revenue grew 4.5 percent.

North American third-party parts and services revenue increased 10.4 percent to $1.08 billion, with organic revenue growth of 1.8 percent. European third-party parts and services revenue rose 50.1 percent to $819.17 million, with organic revenue growth of 8.5 percent.

Third-party specialty parts and services revenue increased 6.7 percent to $313.90 million. Adjusting for acquisitions and foreign exchange, organic revenue rose 6.3 percent, attributable to higher truck, towing and RV parts sales. This was partially offset by lower performance accessories sales, according to management.

“I am proud of our ability to deliver excellent top-line and bottom-line growth, achieving record revenue and earnings in the first quarter of 2017,” stated Robert Wagman, the president and CEO of LKQ. “I am particularly pleased with the margin improvement in the quarter, notably North America, which increased segment EBITDA margin by 210 basis points sequentially and 110 basis points year-over-year.

“Global revenue growth in parts and services was a strong 24.5 percent on a constant-currency basis. Also, despite the mild weather we again faced in North America during the first quarter, global organic revenue growth for parts and services was 4.5 percent, consistent with our annual guidance.”

During the quarter, LKQ divested itself of PGW’s automotive glass manufacturing business, acquired parts recycling businesses in Michigan and Sweden, and purchased a specialty products business in Pennsylvania. Additionally, the company’s Rhiag operations opened 12 new Elit and Auto Kelly operations in eastern Europe.

 

Horizon Americas Net Sales Down 11.6%, With Declines In Most Market Channels

Horizon Global Corp. (Troy, MI) — a manufacturer and distributor of towing, trailering, cargo management, and related accessory products — saw its net sales increase by $57.17 million, or 39.1 percent, to $203.28 million in the first quarter of 2017. The year-over-year increase was due, in part, to the acquisition of the Westfalia business, which added $66.70 million in net sales to the Horizon Europe-Africa segment’s results.

Horizon Americas net sales decreased by $12.80 million, or 11.6 percent, to $97.80 million in the first quarter, with declines reported from all of the segment’s market channels, except for industrial.

Aftermarket channel net sales decreased by $7.80 million, which management attributed to the integration of a new ERP system that caused delays in order placement until late first quarter 2017 and early second quarter 2017. Meanwhile, net sales from the retail channel decreased by roughly $2 million, as point-of-sale weakness resulted in lower sales levels within the channel.

Automotive OE channel net sales declined by $1.80 million, primarily because of decreased volume, as the first quarter of 2016 benefited from the launch of a new program with a major customer. Partially offsetting this decrease were increases in volume on existing programs with other customers. Net sales from the e-commerce channel decreased by $1.60 million, mainly due to reduced sales to customers who did not maintain channel pricing discipline, according to management.

Horizon Americas’ gross profit decreased by $3.90 million to $26.70 million, or 27.3 percent of net sales, for the three months ended March 31, 2017, compared to $30.60 million, or 27.6 percent of net sales, a year ago. The primary factor impacting gross profit was lower sales volume. Further impacting gross profit margin was an unfavorable product sales mix within the automotive OE channel.

Segment operating profit decreased by $4.90 million to $5.20 million, or 5.3 percent of net sales, as compared to $10 million, or 9.1 percent of net sales, for the three months ended March 31, 2016.

“The slow start to the year in the Americas was driven by several factors, including overall market conditions with softness in GDP growth and lower retail sales,” explained A. Mark Zeffiro, the president and CEO of Horizon Global. “The first quarter also saw a shift in the timing of customer orders into the second quarter of this year, with this shift partially attributable to the ramp up of our new ERP system in the Americas. Importantly, Horizon Americas entered the second quarter with significant customer orders ready for delivery.”

Net sales from the Horizon Europe-Africa segment increased by $65.80 million, primarily driven by the fourth quarter 2016 acquisition of Westfalia, which added net sales of $66.70 million to Horizon Europe-Africa’s results. Meanwhile, Horizon Asia-Pacific net sales increased by $4.10 million, mainly because of increased volume with existing and new customers.

 

MSS Kits Extends Export Contract With Excelerate Performance

United Kingdom-based specialist aftermarket suspension developer MSS Kits and U.S. distribution partner Excelerate Performance have extended their partnership. The new deal calls for Branford, CT-based Excelerate to import $10 million worth of MSS products over the next four years.

MSS develops and supplies aftermarket modular performance spring kits for the Volkswagen and Audi tuning aftermarket. The kits are aimed at road and track drivers who want improved handling and ride quality, as well as the ability to adjust a car’s ride height for performance or aesthetic reasons.

MSS also is in development on products for various performance-orientated models from BMW, Porsche, Ford and Toyota.

 

ITT Reports 7% Increase In Aftermarket Brake Pad Sales

The Motion Technologies segment of ITT Inc. saw its revenue increase by $30.30 million, or 11.8 percent, to $287.30 million in the first quarter of 2017. This included $14 million in incremental revenue from the 2017 acquisition of Axtone Railway Components and $8.40 million in unfavorable foreign currency, resulting in organic revenue growth of $24.70 million, or 9.6 percent.

Friction material organic revenue increased 12 percent, attributable to strength in the automotive OEM sales channel (up 14 percent) primarily from market and share gains in Europe and China, as well as strength in aftermarket brake pads (up 7 percent) from an increase in dealer service activity.

Wolverine Advanced Materials contributed organic revenue growth of 7 percent because of share gains in sealing solutions across key geographies. Organic revenue from the Koni business increased 1 percent, as shock absorber strength from the car enthusiast and defense markets were offset by North American and China railway market weakness.

Motion Technologies designs and manufactures braking technology, shock absorbers, and specialized sealing products for the automotive and rail markets.

 

Visual SKUs Touts Digital Asset Management Software

Toronto-based Visual SKUs has launched new software, Amplify, a digital asset management (DAM) and workflow tool for the production, management, and distribution of product images. According to Visual SKUs, Amplify manages the entire process of creating product images, managing and sharing images and other assets internally, and formatting and sending product images to customers, resellers, and marketplaces.

 

Delphi Plans To Spin Off Its Powertrain Segment

Delphi Automotive is planning a tax-free spin-off of its powertrain systems segment into a new, independent publicly traded company. Following the transaction, which is expected to be completed by March 2018, Delphi shareholders will own shares of both companies. The new business’ ordinary shares are expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

“Today’s announcement represents an exciting opportunity for our businesses by creating two independent companies, each with a distinct product focus, a proven business model and the flexibility to pursue accelerated investments in advanced technologies that solve our customers’ most complex challenges,” explained President and CEO Kevin Clark.

Powertrain is focused on optimizing vehicle propulsion systems by enhancing environmental efficiency and vehicle performance. The company is a global supplier to OEMs and aftermarket customers, with 20,000 employees and roughly $4.5 billion in annual revenue.

Tim Manganello, currently an independent director on the Delphi board, will become non-executive chairman of the new powertrain company’s board of directors upon separation. Manganello is a former chairman and CEO of BorgWarner Inc.

Liam Butterworth, currently a senior vice president of Delphi and powertrain systems president, will be president and CEO of the new company.

Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Barclays are financial advisors and Latham & Watkins LLP is legal advisor to Delphi Automotive.

 

AASA Redesigns ‘Know Your Parts’ Website

The AASA Know Your Parts website, KnowYourParts.com, has a new look, more user-friendly navigation and a branded content section called the Quality Parts Zone.

The redesign follows tremendous growth for the “Know Your Parts” campaign, Bill Long, AASA’s president and chief operating officer, said. The site grew from nearly 408,000 visitors in 2014 to more than 1.60 million site visits in 2016, Long said.

“Our research shows that technicians comprise the largest segment of visitors to the site who use it as a resource to find the information they need from the manufacturers of the name-brand parts they know and trust,” he said.

More than 70 percent of users view the site on their mobile devices in page visits lasting an average of 2.35 minutes — an indication that technicians are using information from the “Know Your Parts” site while they work on customers’ vehicles, according to the association.

The AASA Marketing Executives Council (MEC) launched “Know Your Parts” in 2009 with the goal of raising industry awareness of full-service aftermarket suppliers and the products they stand behind, said Phil Hutchens, MEC chairman and vice president of marketing for Standard Motor Products.

Based on the site’s growth and target audience, MEC began a project in 2016 to refresh and redesign the site to make it more user-friendly and easy to navigate for busy technicians, Hutchens said.

The updated KnowYourParts.com delivers product information and expertise from AASA members through such features as trending topics, highlights of top-visited technical articles, and featured videos of current repair topics. The new Quality Parts Zone highlights members of the MEC. Council members can select their own branded content, including videos and tech tips.     — Sarah Hollander

 

SEMA Planning Export Fair For July

SEMA is bringing back the SEMA Export Fair this year. The event, which debuted last year, will be held July 25-26 at the SEMA Garage in Diamond Bar, CA. The day-and-a-half-long program, co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, aims to help SEMA member manufacturers grow business overseas.

SEMA began offering the fair as a response to more members becoming interested in exporting, SEMA international and government relations director Linda Spencer said. “With 65 companies participating the first year, we received positive feedback and saw continued interest from members and decided to host the event again this year,” Spencer said.

The 2017 event includes seminars with seasoned exporters, first-hand advice from top overseas buyers, and insight from SEMA and U.S. government resources. Attendees also can participate in 30-minute confidential meetings with an intellectual property rights attorney to learn about taking the appropriate steps to protect patents and trademarks.

SEMA expects about 100 participating manufacturer members from across the country to attend.

Fees are $95 per company (for one person) and $75 for each additional attendee from the same company. There’s a discount for those registering before May 31. Click here to register.

 

Registration Opens For 2017-‘18 Leadership 2.0 Class

The University of the Aftermarket has officially opened registration for its next Leadership 2.0 class, with session one running Aug. 6-11, 2017 on Northwood University’s campus in Midland, MI and session two being held March 11-16, 2018. Participants must attend both sessions. The class size is limited, so those interested are encouraged to register early as the class is a sell-out every year.

Leadership 2.0 is a post-graduate-style leadership and business skills education program designed to promote the development of the next generation of auto care industry leaders. In addition to the two weeklong classroom segments — which feature lectures, roundtable discussions, networking sessions, and team research and problem-solving activities — participants work off-site to develop and present team research projects covering key aftermarket challenges. Featured presenters include industry executives and faculty from Northwood’s DeVos Graduate School of Management.

The program is designed for early-to mid-career, management-track aftermarket professionals in all market segments. The cost for the two-week program is $6,250, which includes tuition, class material and meals. More information and registration details are available at universityoftheaftermarket.com (click “Course Calendar”) or at (800) 551-2882.

Participants receive 7.0 continuing education units (CEUs) toward their Automotive Aftermarket Professional (AAP) or Master Automotive Aftermarket Professional (MAAP) designations.

 

Import Vehicle Community Accepting Nominations For 2017 People Awards

The Auto Care Association’s Import Vehicle Community (formerly the Auto International Association) is now accepting nominations for its 2017 People Awards competition. The recognitions include: the Hall of Fame Award, Lifetime Industry Achievement Award, Young Executive of the Year Award and Peter Klotz Person of the Year Award. The awards will be presented at the Import Vehicle Community Luncheon & Awards Program Nov. 1 at AAPEX in Las Vegas. The nomination deadline is July 31.

 

Mitsubishi Electric Hit With Multi-Million-Dollar Fine For Bid Rigging

Mitsubishi Electric Corp. pleaded guilty in late April to three counts of bid-rigging for participating in an alleged international conspiracy and was fined CDN$13.40 million by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

A Canadian Competition Bureau investigation determined that Mitsubishi Electric entered into illegal agreements with a competing Japanese car parts manufacturer. The companies allegedly conspired to determine which would win certain calls for bids issued by Honda and Ford for the supply of alternators, and by General Motors for the supply of ignition coils. The calls for bids occurred between 2003 and 2006.

According to the bureau, investigations to date into a series of bid-rigging agreements among car parts suppliers have resulted in the three largest fines ever ordered by a court in Canada for bid‑rigging offenses: Yazaki Corp. (CDN$30 million), Mitsubishi Electric (CDN$13.40 million) and Showa Corp. (CDN$13 million).

Since April 2013, bureau investigations involving car parts have resulted in over CDN$84 million in fines imposed by courts in Canada.

 

Ididit Buys Michigan-Based Vintage Wires

Tecumseh, MI-based Ididit has acquired Vintage Wires of Holland, MI, a company that makes classic ignition cable sets for vintage racecars and other classic projects. The acquisition adds a complementary product line to go with Ididit’s custom steering columns and accessories. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

 

Motorcar Parts Revamps Its Operations Structure

Torrance, CA-based Motorcar Parts of America (MPA) has revamped its senior operations structure, reassigning Chief Operating Officer Steve Kratz to a newly created position: vice president of new technologies.

The chief operating officer position is being divided into two categories: under-the-hood and under-the-car product lines. The goal, according to MPA, is to enhance efficiency, technological innovation and new product line introductions.

Doug Schooner, currently chief manufacturing officer, now also serves as senior vice president of operations for under-the-car product lines. Bryan Cain, who most recently was senior vice president of supply chain, has assumed the position senior vice president of operations for rotating electrical.

In addition to these changes, MPA has appointed Jack Vollbrecht as its senior vice president of strategy and government relations — a newly created position.  His primary responsibilities include …
• Assisting with developing ongoing business strategies;
• Coordinating the company’s government affairs outreach activities at the federal, state and local levels; and
• Identifying proactive legislative opportunities and related activities to support the company’s business interests within the automotive aftermarket.

An industry veteran, Vollbrecht most recently was senior vice president of business development and government relations for Remy International. Also, he was the president and CEO of the Unit Parts Co., which Remy acquired in 2005.

 

Scott Howat Joins Nivel Parts As Marketing VP

Nivel Parts & Manufacturing (Jacksonville, FL), a supplier and distributer of parts and accessories for the golf cart and specialty vehicle aftermarket, has named Scott Howat to the new role of vice president of marketing – Specialty Vehicle Division. Howat’s responsibilities include leading the strategy, development, and activation of all product management, brand marketing, sales promotion, communications, and technical support.

Prior to joining Nivel, Howat worked for Gates Corp. as director of marketing and product management and director of end-market communications and training. He also served in marketing and communication roles for the Affinia Group and Dana/Echlin.

 

National Sales Manager

The Industry Leader in Licensed Automotive Accessories is looking for a National Sales Manager to manage and acquire regional and national retail accounts across multiple channels of distribution. This exciting opportunity to join a 45+ year old, privately held … Click here to find out more.

Westin Automotive: Marketing Manager

We have an immediate opening for a Marketing Manager with a passion for the automotive industry and strong marketing skills who can keep Westin positioned as the market leader in the truck accessories product space. This role is an outstanding opportunity for someone who understands how today’s marketing trends work. You will use your 5+ years of experience … Click here to find out more.

Spectra Premium: Director of Sales — Retail

The role of the Director of Sales- Retail is to manage and supervise the overall sales and marketing aspects of selected National Accounts in the United States for select product lines and to the exclusion of any other lines, while constantly looking for ways to improve the overall profitability of those accounts and being measured upon sales results versus the established budget… Click here to find out more.

 

COMP Performance Group Forges New Executive Leadership Roles

The Memphis-based COMP Performance Group has appointed company veteran Chris Douglas as its chief operating officer. Douglas, who has been with COMP Performance for nearly 15 years, was vice president of marketing. In this new capacity, he is responsible for day-to-day operations and the overall efficiency of the organization.

COMP Performance also has appointed company veteran Kevin Feeney to the newly formed chief product officer position. As such, he oversees the development, improvement and manufacture of all products within the company’s brand portfolio. Feeney was the vice president of engineering and product development.

Both Douglas and Feeney will work directly with COMP Performance owners Ron Coleman and Paul “Scooter” Brothers and with Chief Sales Officer Rick Sparks to define and execute the strategic direction of the overall organization.

The COMP Performance family of aftermarket performance companies includes COMP Cams, TCI, FAST, RHS, Quarter Master, ZEX and Inglese.

 

Brake Parts Inc. Expands Sales Team

McHenry, IL-based Brake Parts Inc. (BPI) has expanded its sales organization with the addition of Rob Miles as national sales manager – commercial vehicles, where he leads the company’s sales efforts in the medium-duty and fleet aftermarket. BPI also has appointed five new business development managers: Bill Bates, central California; Edwin Borrero, Texas; Trevor Lilovich, Pennsylvania; Nicole Rotell, Midwest; and Jerry Thomas, North Carolina.

 

Longtime Universal Group Regional Sales Manager Retires

Bill Stocker has retired from The Universal Group LLC (Pennsauken, NJ) after 27 years of service. He was a regional sales manager. The Universal Group supplies leaf springs and related undercarriage components to the heavy-, medium-, and light-duty truck and trailer parts industry, as well as running gear components for light-duty trailers, such as boat trailers, utility trailers, horse trailers, and more. The company supplies axle manufacturers, national and regional WDs, and small trailer manufacturers.

 

People Watching 5/11/17

SEMA has announced its 2017 Hall of Fame class: Barry Meguiar, president of the car care products company Meguiar’s Inc.; Doug Evans, current SEMA chairman of the board and longtime automotive industry publisher; and Gigi Carleton, president of the Robert E. Petersen Foundation. The trio will be inducted July 28 at a gala in Pomona, CA. Click here for more information about the event and the inductees.

• The Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada) is honoring Jason Best, executive vice president – aftermarket at Spectra Premium Industries, as the association’s 2017 Young Leader of the Year. Best is being recognized for his approach to leadership and his ability to share his vision with his team and customers.

• AIA Canada is honoring John Maslack, founder and president of Maslack Supply (a Sudbury, Ontario-based Auto Value member of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance), with this year’s Distinguished Service Award.

Ray Mallen, an account manager with Don Green Sales (a manufacturer’s rep firm), will be retiring July 31. Mallen has over 30 years of automotive aftermarket experience. He joined Don Green Sales in 1990.

Lumileds has named Ilan Daskal as its CFO. Daskal has over 25 years of senior financial experience, including time as the vice president of finance at Infineon Technologies NA and CFO of International Rectifier. Lumileds develops, manufactures, and distributes LEDs and automotive lighting products.

Haldex has appointed Andreas Ekberg as its acting CFO. Ekberg is expected to join the company by June 1 at the latest. Ekberg will replace Ake Bengsson, who now serves as acting president and CEO.

• John Tews has joined The Millerschin Group (TMG) as a vice president. Auburn Hills, MI-based TMG is a full-service public relations and marketing communications firm. Tews has spent 16 years in corporate communications at J.D. Power & Associates.

Gary Schechner is now the vice president of sales and marketing for the Drake Automotive Group (Henderson, NV), a classic Mustang restoration outfit. Schechner most recently led sales and marketing for Shelby American.

Keith Criswell has rejoined Drake as brand manager for modern muscle and off road. Criswell most recently led product development for Shelby Performance Parts at Shelby American.

Lenny Weber has joined OEConnection (Richfield, OH) as its director of data services and business intelligence. He was an independent consultant prior to joining OEC.

• OEConnection has hired Tracy Oriti as a quality assurance manager. Prior to joining OEC, Oriti worked for Nationwide as a director of application development.

 

News Briefs 5/11/17

• The Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance has recognized East Penn with a 2017 Receiver’s Choice Award for its content management standards and quality electronic catalog content.

• Total Lubricants has announced a three-year global distribution partnership with Nexus Automotive International.

MEMA leaders met with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross April 24 to discuss trade policy, workforce development and the motor vehicle parts supplier industry. This was the third meeting the association has had with key Trump administration officials, following a March 24 sit-down with members of the National Economic Council and an April 6 meeting with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

• The Auto Care Association, in partnership with Integrate Data Facts (IDF), has released the Mexico Market Report – An Assessment of Mexico’s Aftermarket, the second of three reports on emerging international markets. Topics include auto parts manufacturing, age of vehicles and VIO, and miles traveled. Association members can purchase copies for $2,100. The non-member price is $3,100. Click here for more information.

Spectra Premium Industries (Boucherville, Quebec) has brought a new distribution center online in Luxembourg, improving the company’s ability to service customers across Europe.

• Spectra Premium Industries’ mobile application has received Silver Medal recognition from the Automotive Content Professionals Network.

Honeywell has changed the brand name of its Garrett replacement and performance aftermarket turbochargers to Honeywell Garrett.

• Stant Corp. has introduced a new line of coolant temperature sensors to complement its thermal management system products.

Cargo Heavy Duty is now a member of the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN). Kalamazoo, MI-based Cargo Heavy Duty also is a member of the HDA Truck Pride group.

• Gregory’s Fleet Supply — a heavy-duty truck WD and HDA Truck Pride member in Virginia Beach, VA — is moving its parts, driveline and engine shop operations to the DX+ cloud-based warehouse management technology from DMS Systems Corp.

BCA Bearings has launched a medium-duty product line as an extension to its current wheel end offering.

Cummins Inc. has officially endorsed two Power Service products, Diesel Kleen +Cetane Boost and Diesel Fuel Supplement +Cetane Boost, for use in diesel engines, becoming the first fuel additive products that Cummins has ever officially recommended in the marketplace.

• UAP Inc. (Montreal) has launched its Radical series of professional-quality UltraPro tools with a matte black finish, including toolboxes, wrenches, gloves and service carts.

• The Breakthrough One-Key Lock Technology (BOLT) product line from Strattec Security Corp. is now available in Australia and New Zealand.

Roush has opened a technical center in Troy, MI dedicated to engineering design and development services for hybrid and electric vehicles, electric propulsion and battery systems, autonomous vehicles, advanced software, and data analysis. The 44,000-square-foot facility will service automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers.

 

Financial Briefs 5/11/17

Energizer Holdings’ auto care unit (whose brands include Refresh Your Car, California Scents, Driven, Bahama & Co., Lexol and Eagle One) generated $29.40 million in revenue and $4.90 million in earnings before income taxes for the three months ended March 31, 2017.

Meritor Inc.’s Aftermarket & Trailer sales decreased 1.4 percent to $215 million for the three months ended March 31, 2017, primarily because of lower trailer production, partially offset by higher aftermarket revenue. North American Aftermarket & Trailer sales declined 0.6 percent to $180 million. Aftermarket & Trailer adjusted EBITDA came in at $30 million — up 7.1 percent over the previous year. Segment adjusted EBITDA margin increased from 12.8 percent to 14 percent year-over-year.

Littelfuse’s automotive sales increased 17 percent to $107.84 million in the first quarter of 2017. Excluding acquisitions and currency effects, automotive sales were down 2 percent. Automotive operating income declined 14 percent to $15.07 million.

• Transamerican Auto Parts (TAP) contributed $202 million in sales for new parent company Polaris Industries during the first quarter of 2017.

Valvoline Inc. is scheduled to replace Noble Corp. on the S&P MidCap 400 prior to the open of trading on Tuesday, May 16.

 

Event & Trade Show Briefs 5/11/17

• This year’s Automotive Aftermarket Charitable Foundation All-Industry Golf Outing will take place Oct. 30 at the Las Vegas Country Club, just prior to the start of the AAPEX and SEMA shows. All proceeds help fund the foundation’s work helping industry workers in need. The event sells out every year. To learn more about the outing, visit aacfi.org/golf.

• SEMA plans to host a professional development and small business training program June 14 at the Detroit Metro Airport Marriott in Romulus, MI. The program will include a panel discussion on new vehicle technology as well as a presentation from the U.S. Small Business Administration on business financing programs that support infrastructure improvements. Click here for more information on the event.

Rocky Romanella of UPS will be the keynote speaker at the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) Aftermarket Distribution Summit taking place Sept. 9-13 at the Omni Resort & Spa in Amelia Island, FL. A noted cultural integration, operations and engineering executive, Romanella is perhaps best known for the rebranding of The UPS Store. Click here for more information on the event, including other scheduled speakers.

• Frost & Sullivan is consulting Messe Frankfurt on a new mobility-themed event, Hypermotion, scheduled for Nov. 20-22 in Germany. The show, with an associated conference, will address a variety of transportation modes. Hypermotion is envisioned as uniting key stakeholders from traditional OEMs to start-ups, from transportation providers to technology developers and even governmental players. Click here for more information.

 

 

17 — May 4, 2017

 

O’Reilly Failed To Meet Its Already Lowered Comparable-Store Sales Guidance In Q1

While O’Reilly Automotive was able to deliver record revenue and earnings in the first quarter of 2017, its comparable-store sales failed to meet management’s already lowered expectations due to weather and the timing of tax refunds.

Net sales increased 2.9 percent to $2.16 billion; however, comparable-store sales were up only 0.8 percent. Market conditions O’Reilly faced in the quarter created significant volatility in the company’s results, especially against the backdrop of very difficult comp-store sales comparisons of +6.1 percent last year and +13.3 percent on a two-year-stack basis.

WEATHER … “When we held our year-end conference call on Feb. 7, we established a comparable-store sales guidance range of 2 percent to 4 percent, which was below our typical expectations of 3 percent to 5 percent. This was the result of the impact of the mild January temperatures, as well as our belief that we likely saw some pull-forward of winter-weather-related sales in the December of last year due to the extreme cold weather we had in many markets at the end of 2016,” CEO Greg Henslee said on an April 27 conference call. “Unfortunately, the seasonably mild weather continued in February, and the resulting softness in our business was exacerbated by the delay of tax refund money to early filers, which was deferred by several weeks this year compared to the prior year.

“We saw business improve markedly toward the end of February as our customers began to receive these income tax refunds. However, this positive trend was halted at the beginning of March as a result of cold, wet weather, including late winter storms in many of our markets. This type of weather would have been a positive in January or February but was a significant headwind to our business in much of March as customers awaited spring weather.”

More specifically, January was positive, March was the best month of the period and February was negative. 

Henslee told analysts that was the first negative month that he could remember in a while. “And, it wasn’t just a little bit negative. It was a reasonable amount negative due to the two weeks in the middle of the month where the tax refund comparison was significant,” he pointed out. “We had a couple of rough weeks there.”

REGIONAL IMPACT … Henslee told analysts that there was a disparity in the company’s regional performance. “The markets that we would consider to be weather-affected versus the markets that would be maybe not weather affected — and that’s not a clear line, but we do our best to draw that line — that difference would be just slightly less than 400 basis points of difference,” he explained. “What I will tell you is that, in the first quarter, our western stores performed materially better than the East Coast stores … because the East Coast stores are obviously more sensitive to weather and the West Coast stores less.

“Although, for some period of time, in the West, they had torrential rains that were impacting the business. I think we would have done a lot better out West if it hadn’t been for the significant rainstorms that they had. But still, even with that, the West performed better than the East and the North.”

PROFESSIONAL V. DIY … Co-President Greg Johnson pointed out during the call that, despite the challenging conditions O’Reilly faced in the quarter, the company was able to generate positive comp-store sales growth from both the professional and DIY businesses.

“Any pressure to consumer discretionary income is more impactful on the DIY side of the business, as these customers are often forced to repair their own vehicles out of economic necessity. This is reflected in our results for the first quarter, as the delay in tax refunds — while a significant headwind to both sides of our business — was more impactful on the DIY side, and resulted in comps to those customers underperforming our professional customer comps,” Johnson said.

“However, the negative weather impacts that we saw throughout the quarter were felt on both sides of the business, and we received consistent feedback from across our professional customer base that their business suffered from the lack of extreme weather and the slow start to spring.”

Johnson reported a “solid” increase in ticket average for the quarter, but noted pressure on both DIY and professional ticket count comps as a result of the sluggish sales environment. “As has been the case for several years, we realized no benefit from increases in selling price, as inflation remains muted,” he added.

GUIDANCE … Johnson told analysts on the call that the headwinds O’Reilly faced in the first quarter are temporary, and management feels confident the company will see a favorable demand environment for the balance of the year that will enable O’Reilly to deliver long-term profitable growth.

“We established our 2017 guidance based on the improved health of the overall economy, continued sustained improvements in employment, positive trends in miles driven, an aging and growing vehicle fleet and the ability of our team to deliver outstanding customer service,” Johnson said. “Despite the slow start to the year, we see all these drivers of our business as intact. We exited March on a more solid footing, and we are performing within our expectations thus far in April. As such, we are setting our second-quarter comparable-store sales guidance at 3 percent to 5 percent, and reiterating our full-year comparable-store sales guidance range of 3 percent to 5 percent as well.”

UNDER PRESSURE … The shortfall in sales in the first quarter created pressure on all areas of the company’s business. Gross profit rose 3.1 percent to $1.13 billion, while gross margin increased 10 basis points to 52.5 percent.

“We finished the quarter with a gross profit of 52.5 percent, which was an increase of 10 basis points over the first quarter results from last year. This was below our expectations coming into the quarter due to mix headwinds from unseasonable weather, deleverage of fixed costs in our gross margin as a result of the soft sales, and larger-than-anticipated LIFO headwinds,” Johnson said. “However, we believe that the pressure caused by the specific challenges we faced in the first quarter is temporary, and we are leaving our gross margin expectation for the full year unchanged.”

That full-year gross margin guidance is 52.8 percent to 53.2 percent.

Selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expenses for the first quarter increased roughly 7 percent to $728 million and grew, as a percentage of sales, from 32.4 percent to 33.8 percent on a year-over-year basis. Operating income for the first quarter decreased approximately 4 percent to $403 million and declined, as a percentage of sales, from 20 percent to 18.7 percent.

“In light of these pressures, we are pleased that our team was able to continue to execute our expense-control culture to generate a very respectable 18.7 percent operating profit,” Henslee said on the call.

Net income increased 3.7 percent to $264.93 million and rose, as a percentage of sales, from 12.2 percent to 12.3 percent.

STORES … During the quarter, O’Reilly opened 59 net new stores across 25 states, with the highest concentration in some of the company’s newer growth markets in the Southeast and Northeast, as well as in existing markets, such as Texas. “We continue to see great opportunities to open new stores across our coast-to-coast footprint,” Co-President Jeff Shaw said on the call.

“The strong start to our new store growth in 2017 puts us well on our way to our full-year growth target of 190 net new stores and provides us with the flexibility we need to devote significant resources in the remainder of the year to converting the Bond stores that we acquired in December,” Shaw stated. “We just recently completed the store systems conversions and are now servicing each of the acquired Bond stores with five-nights-a-week delivery from our Devens distribution center. We are now servicing approximately 142 stores out of this facility with the capacity to service an additional 145 stores, and we continue to view the Northeast as a very favorable expansion market.”

SHARES … During the quarter, O’Reilly repurchased 1.80 million shares of its common stock at an average price per share of $268.09 for a total investment of $490 million. Subsequent to the end of the quarter and through April 26, the company repurchased an additional 300,000 shares at an average price per share of $259.18 for a total investment of $76 million.

O’Reilly has repurchased a total of 59.10 million shares of its common stock under its share repurchase program since the inception of the program in 2011 at an average price of $125.75 for a total aggregate investment of $7.43 billion. As of April 26, the company had roughly $322 million remaining under its current share repurchase authorization.         — Marc Vincent

 

CPW Buys Lake County Parts Warehouse, Import Parts Distributor

Car Parts Warehouse (CPW), a Parts Plus member of the Automotive Distribution Network based in Brook Park, OH, has acquired Lake County Parts Warehouse in Perry, OH; Lake County Parts Warehouse in Akron, OH; and Import Parts Distributor in Pittsburgh. This gives CPW 35 locations and more than 250 delivery vehicles.

“The acquisition of Lake County Parts Warehouse and Import Parts Distributor locations will add value to all 35 Car Parts Warehouse locations,” said Tony DiFiore, vice president of CPW. “We now have all our bases covered: from import to domestic, and all makes and models. This is just one more reason for professional installers in northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania to make us their first call for hot-shot delivery.”

“We are proud of Tony and the Car Parts Warehouse team for making this acquisition under the Parts Plus banner,” said David Prater, president of The Network. “This new expansion brings CPW approximately 3,000 new customers with more than $10 million in sales. We are extremely excited to welcome them into the group and look forward to their continued success.”

 

Arnold Motor Supply Celebrates 90 Years

Arnold Motor Supply celebrated its 90th anniversary with a day of activities for employees and business partners at its headquarters in Spencer, IA. Nearly 800 employees and retirees attended the April 22 event, according to the company.

The day included guided tours of the company’s expanded distribution center and office space addition, and concluded with an awards banquet featuring keynote speaker John Washbish, president and CEO of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance.

Awards for contributions to the company’s success in 2016 included …
• Innovative Partner Award: Dorman Products;
• Developmental Partner Award: Standard Motor Supply;
• Brand Engagement Award: Wix Filters;
• Sales Support Award: BBB Industries; and
• 2016 Partner of the Year Award: East Penn Manufacturing.

Arnold Motor Supply opened its doors in 1927 as Arnold and Lewis, selling auto parts out of the back of a 1927 Chevy. At first, the company didn’t allocate funds toward retail advertising, believing that professional installers would be the best business model for selling auto parts in a fledgling industry. Arnold differentiated its services from other parts stores by delivering parts directly to professional shops within a 30-mile radius.

“In the middle of the Depression, E.P. Arnold had the foresight to start a business in a new field: the automotive aftermarket,” Managing Partner Dennis Spooner said. “He also recognized the importance of machine shops to keep the customer on the road and in the field.”

The company now includes more than 650 team members and covers five Midwestern states. It’s owned by 170 active and 50 retired partners, a dozen of which are second- or third-generation owners.

 

Dorman Reports Record Q1 Net Sales

Colmar, PA-based Dorman Products came through with record net sales of $221.63 million for the first quarter of 2017 — an increase of 6.5 percent over the previous year. Gross profit rose 10.1 percent to $88.74 million, and gross margin grew from 38.7 percent a year ago to 40 percent for the three months ended April 1, 2017. Net income increased 18.3 percent to $29.19 million.

President and CEO Matt Barton said Dorman’s sales growth met management’s expectations as sound execution allowed the company to deliver “substantial” bottom-line leverage on the sales growth. “Our new product engine remains strong, and we remain confident in our ability to deliver solid organic growth this year,” Barton stated. “In the quarter, we launched 1,290 new unique SKUs — a 17-percent increase over the first quarter of 2016.

“In addition, while our Dorman HD Solutions offering is still a relatively small part of the overall business, we remain pleased with our progress, with sales growing 24 percent year-over-year. We continue to invest in our Complex Electronics capabilities, with sales in these lines up 20 percent year-over-year.”

Barton added that management’s outlook for the business remains positive. “As a result, our previously issued full-year 2017 revenue guidance remains in the mid- to high-single-digit growth range, while net income growth is expected to be in the high-single- to low-double-digit range,” he said.

In related news, Dorman repurchased 138,900 shares of its common stock under its share repurchase program for $11 million at an average share price of $79.43 during the first quarter.

 

Another Acquisition For UAP’s Heavy Vehicle Parts Division

The Heavy Vehicle Parts Division of UAP Inc. has acquired Belcher Pièces de Machinerie of St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Quebec. Belcher is known for heavy machinery parts sales and distribution in the construction, mining, agriculture and forestry industries. Belcher now joins UAP’s Traction/TW network.

UAP intends to keep the Belcher facilities in St-Augustin-de-Desmaures open and to retain the existing team.

This is the fourth acquisition for UAP’s Heavy Vehicle Parts Division in recent months. In December, UAP bought Buy-Rite Truck Parts and G.P.I.C.S., both in the Toronto area. UAP more recently acquired the distribution activities of Service de Freins Montreal Ltée (Freno).

 

PurePower Technologies Relocates Its HQ

PurePower Technologies (PPT), a manufacturer of new and remanufactured diesel fuel injectors and turbochargers, has relocated its global headquarters from its manufacturing plant in Blythewood, SC to its existing technical and research center facility in nearby Columbia.

Roughly 20 management and administrative personnel are relocating. The move allows for an anticipated operational expansion, as the company focuses on growth and the launch of new product lines.

“As we continue operating in our second year as an independent company from Navistar Inc., we have been pursuing new market channels, allowing us to develop, not only OE-quality remanufactured diesel fuel injection systems, but also high-precision fuel, air management, and after-treatment systems for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks,” explained Jerry Sweetland, PPT’s president and CEO. “We have a very dedicated workforce in the area, and this short move allows us to make the necessary changes at our manufacturing facility to continue to produce world-class products to our ever-expanding customer base.”

In June 2016, PPT announced a $15-million investment to expand manufacturing capacity for its new diesel fuel injector technology. The capital investment, spread over a five-year period, provides the company with the opportunity to pursue “aggressive” growth and product diversity, and allows for the hiring of nearly 80 additional employees.

 

Platinum Driveline Moves To New HQ

Platinum Driveline, an aftermarket distributor of manual transmission products, has moved to new, bigger facilities nearby in Eureka, MO. The headquarters complex includes over 200,000 cubic feet of warehousing and 2,000 square feet of office space.

The bigger building accommodates significant growth and facilitates expanding product development, operations and warehousing groups, according to a company statement. “Growth has been steady and strong, and the new facility will provide the space to expand our team as needed so we can continue to enable our customers’ success,” CEO Robert Insalaco said.

 

IPC Global Solutions Touts New Ecogard Marketing Campaign

The Ecogard brand from IPC Global Solutions (Taunton, MA) has launched a new marketing campaign titled “Clean Air” that’s designed to support installers in marketing and promoting cabin air filter changes to their customers. The program includes a variety of marketing elements for the installer to use in the shop and in the waiting room, including a technician’s guide, consumer awareness poster, consumer awareness counter mat and consumer awareness brochure.

These new marketing elements are being supported by a consumer awareness campaign employing social media and the trade press.

 

Line-X Launches Multiplatform Marketing Campaign

Line-X has launched a new marketing campaign featuring country music entertainer Craig Morgan, wherein Morgan calls on truck owners to drop their drop-in bedliners in favor of spray-on bedliners from Line-X. The multiplatform, integrated marketing campaign includes multiple TV commercials, print ads, digital creative, in-store signage, radio spots, integrated social media and more. Click here to see part of the campaign.

 

Boomerang Buys URF’s Spare Tire Cover Business

Colorado-based automotive accessories manufacturer Boomerang Enterprises has acquired the spare tire cover business assets of United Roll Forming (URF), which manufactures and supplies roll-formed stainless steel tire cover rings and components to the RV, antique automobile and SUV accessory markets. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal bolsters Boomerang’s position as a North American manufacturer of specialty tire covers by expanding into the RV and antique automobile markets. It also adds to Boomerang’s line of automotive accessories.

“We are excited to not only continue the legacy of the classic ‘continental kit’ tire cover that URF has manufactured for decades, but also to introduce additional custom variations,” said Boomerang president Chris Fischer.

Boomerang plans to market the continental tire cover kits under its premium brand MasterSeries. And, in addition to offering the traditional stainless-steel ring and white ABS face configuration, the company also will offer full-color ColorTek graphic and custom-painted versions of the hard-shell tire covers.

 

MEMA Sponsors Bloomberg Tax And Trade Discussion

Tax reform and trade policy took center stage at a MEMA-sponsored Bloomberg Government Policy Breakfast April 27 in Washington, DC. MEMA highlighted the importance of trade to motor vehicle suppliers and the industry’s role in the U.S. economy.

“This could not have been a more timely discussion,” MEMA president and CEO Steve Handschuh said. President Trump released his tax plan the day before the event, and possible new trade policies, including a border tax adjustment, have been dominating the news.

“The fast-changing, global demands that suppliers face mean that MEMA’s members are — and must remain — at the forefront of innovation,” Handschuh said. “Yet, for the U.S. industry to remain competitive, we must get tax reform and trade policies right.”

MEMA advocates for policies that will make manufacturers in the United States more competitive by creating more jobs and greater economic stability.

“The objective of tax reform and NAFTA renegotiation must be the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers,” Handschuh said. “While we welcome the administration’s and Congress’s efforts to implement tax reform and update NAFTA, we must, at the same time, address the shortage of trained workers to fill the current manufacturing jobs, as well as jobs created in the future.”

Xavier Mosquet, a Detroit-based senior partner and managing director for The Boston Consulting Group, discussed highlights of a trade analysis the organization is conducting for MEMA.

Held at Bloomberg Government’s headquarters, the briefing was attended by nearly 100 members, legislative and regulatory officials, industry leaders, like-minded associations, and members of the media. Bloomberg Government, a division of Bloomberg BNA, is a subscription-based service that provides information and analysis to government relations and contracting professionals, federal employees, and others.

Panelists and moderators participating in the discussions included: Sarah Babbage, legislative analyst at Bloomberg Government; Chad Brown, a senior fellow of the Peterson Institute for International Economics; Josh Eastright, head of Bloomberg Government; Gordon Gray, director of fiscal policy with the American Action Forum; Warren Maruyama, partner at Hogan Lovells and former general counsel for The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR); and Cody Lusk, president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.

A link to a video of the discussion and analysis from The Boston Consulting Group will be released to MEMA members in the near future.        — Sarah Hollander

 

Auto Care Association Decries $20B Per-Year Tax Hike On Auto Parts

The Auto Care Association warned U.S. lawmakers May 3 that a proposed border adjustment tax (BAT) — which would impose a new, 20-percent tax on imported goods and services — would result in a $20-billion per-year tax increase on auto parts. This would increase the annual auto repair and maintenance costs for the average family by $160 to roughly $1,100, according to the association’s analysis.

“This is also a highly regressive tax that will hit working families the hardest because they tend to drive older vehicles that require more repair work and maintenance,” Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the association, said in a statement. “The BAT will hurt middle-class consumers, and have a chilling effect on small businesses that conduct auto repair work and serve as a source of good-paying jobs in every community in the country. The Auto Care Association strongly urges Congress and the Trump Administration to reject this ill-conceived tax increase.”

The Auto Care Association is affiliated with Americans for Affordable Products, a national coalition of 400 businesses and trade associations that are opposing the BAT.

 

AAPEXedu Adding New Partners To Expand Program

New partners and industry experts are scheduled to join AAPEXedu in 2017 to offer an expanded lineup of education for automotive aftermarket professionals. Attendees will be able to select from numerous topics, including telematics, connected vehicles, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), vehicle data access, alternate fuel and drivetrain options, and Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication and new mobility models when attending AAPEXedu sessions around AAPEX this fall.

For the first time, Northwood University will offer sessions as part of AAPEXedu, while the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and AVI will provide technical training sessions. The Auto Care Association and AASA also will host sessions tailored to each of the communities within AAPEX. And, NARSA – the International Heat Transfer Association will offer a program on the latest trends and technology in heating and cooling systems.

An enhanced Service Professionals Program will feature a Service Professionals Summit during which a panel of speakers will discuss emerging technology facing this segment of the industry. Carm Capriotto, founder and host of Remarkable Results Radio, will moderate the panel discussion Nov. 2, with a reception to follow. The program also will feature under-the-hood training by AVI, and a special “Advanced Vehicle Training” session by ASA.

A day-long REMANedu Conference, which also is part of AAPEXedu, will take place Oct. 30. The conference is billed as a multi-faceted education and networking forum dedicated to remanufacturing. Industry experts, panels, and speakers will showcase reman products and associated technology, along with the processes that go into successful reman operations. The day will wrap up with a panel of company leaders providing their insights and outlook for remanufacturing in 2018.

Attendees can still count on learning the results of NPD’s Consumer Outlook Survey during “Aftermarket Outlook,” while IHS Markit will again discuss trends shaping the global automotive aftermarket during its “Five Trends in Five Minutes” session.

More specific content for AAPEXedu sessions will be available on aapexshow.com in June. All AAPEXedu sessions and programs are included in the AAPEX online attendee registration fee, which is $40 before Oct. 13.

This year, education will extend beyond the official close of AAPEX, which will take place Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas. ASA will offer a full day of management and technical training Nov. 3, while AVI’s advanced diagnostic training will run Nov. 3-4. Separate fees apply for the additional ASA and AVI training, and attendees can register for these programs when registering for AAPEX.

 

Two-Day ACES & PIES Training Seminar Coming In July

The University of the Aftermarket — in partnership with the Auto Care Association and the Automotive Content Professionals Association (ACPN) — will host a two-day seminar on the implementation and management of automotive catalog and product information standards. The program will take place July 18-19 in Farmington Hills, MI.

The program is geared toward catalog managers and product information professionals who would like to sharpen their knowledge and management of the industry data standards ACES and PIES.

ACES topics to be addressed include …
• Understanding the role and value of aftermarket data standards;
• Detailed explanation of the Auto Care database structure;
• Getting started with a catalog data management plan;
• Planning and consideration for pillars of Product Information Management (PIM);
• Building the foundation: brand, match, ACES, attributes, exercises and web browsing;
• Understanding ACES documentation and rules;
• Database examples, mapping exercise and file exchange; and
• Working with the Vehicle Configuration Database (VCdb).

PIES topics to be addressed include …
• Understanding PIES documentation and rules;
• Best practices in digital assets and market copy;
• Working with product attributes; and
• Applying the standard to increasing sales.

Participants will receive 1.0 continuing education unit (CEU) toward completion of their Automotive Aftermarket Professional (AAP) or Master Automotive Aftermarket Professional (MAAP) designations. Additionally, the course fulfills the ACES and PIES training requirement for the Automotive Content Professional (ACP) designation.

The seminar will use web-based content and live data exercises. Attendees are required to bring a laptop, tablet or other wireless Internet-capable device. All material will be electronic, and web exercises will have students taking the first steps toward standards compliance before they leave the seminar. Instructors will be leaders from the Auto Care Association’s Technology Standards Committee and principal architects of the industry standards.

Registration is available at the University of the Aftermarket website, universityoftheaftermarket.com. Click “Course Calendar” and scroll down to the July 18-19 Aftermarket Data Standards registration link.

The registration fee is $725 for Auto Care Association or ACPN members and $850 for non-members.

 

Registration Open For Women In Auto Care Summer Leadership Event

Registration is now open for the Women in Auto Care (formerly Car Care Council Women’s Board) 2017 Summer Leadership Conference, a day-and-a-half event that will take place July 19-20 at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University.

The conference will feature two keynote speakers: Cynthia Kay, founder of Cynthia Kay & Co., a media production company; and Doreen Bolhuis, founder of GymCo Inc., a gymnastics and educational center. Both are business owners who unite to help other women progress. Other speakers will include …
Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association;
Catherine Johns, an author and communication coach;
Treavor Hill, senior vice president of Jefferies LLC; and
Megan Meyer, team manager and race car driver with Randy Meyer Racing.

The conference is open to all professionals in the auto care industry.

 

SiriusXM Acquires Connected Vehicle Company

SiriusXM has acquired Automatic Labs Inc., a San Francisco-based provider of connected vehicle services. Automatic’s proprietary Automatic Pro and Automatic Lite connected car adapters provide vehicle diagnostic alerts, emergency crash assistance, fuel monitoring, vehicle location tracking and more. Its products are sold by retailers and online.

The acquisition of Automatic gives the ubiquitous SiriusXM data collection and analytical tools to go along with its audio entertainment and data capabilities. SiriusXM technology is found in almost every vehicle sold in North America.

Automatic will continue to be based in San Francisco. The Automatic brand, its products and services, and arrangements will continue unchanged.

 

VOXX Creates Vehicle Safety, Security & Convenience Product Group

VOXX Electronics Corp. is combining its Vehicle Security, Remote Start & Telematics Group, headed by Joe Dentamaro, vice president of vehicle security, with the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Group, headed by Shane Wilson, senior product manager, to form the new Vehicle Safety, Security & Convenience Group.

This new group will continue to be headed by Dentamaro as vice president, with Wilson being promoted to the new position of assistant vice president of the group.

“As we continue to develop new and innovative mobile electronics products for the mobile electronics aftermarket, we saw a perfect opportunity to bring together two separate groups, and combine the knowledge and expertise of both into one cohesive team,” said Aron Demers, senior vice president of VOXX. “Together, these two groups have a tremendous amount of synergies and will provide VOXX with an incredible amount of growth for this new group as well as the opportunities this will bring to our dealer partners for years to come.”

In addition, Dan Bisceglia has been promoted from the technical service department to join the new group as product manager, joining current product managers Paul Burdick and Michael Lynch. This brings together the entire group into the VOXX facility in Troy, MI, which is the same place in which the OEM Engineering & Product Test Group resides.

Over time, VOXX plans to expand the group to include additional members.

 

Kevin O’Dowd Joins Trico/Carter Team

Kevin O’Dowd is now the vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer for the aftermarket group of Crowne LLC (Rochester Hills, MI). He is responsible for the marketing of its core brands Trico Wiper Blades, Carter Fuel Pumps and Strong Arm Lift Supports.

O’Dowd has more than 10 years of aftermarket experience, managing a variety of brands with Mann + Hummel and Federal-Mogul, as well as an earlier stint with Trico Products. This followed a 15-year advertising career with McCann – Erickson World Group and its sister agencies.

 

Stant Hires Vice President Of Aftermarket

Terry Ethier, a 36-year veteran of the automotive and trucking aftermarket, has been named vice president of aftermarket for Stant Corp. As such, Ethier reports to Tim King, senior vice president of global sales, and serves on the Stant leadership team.

“Terry will lead the charge to increase market share by identifying and developing strategic market channels, expanding product offerings, enhancing current customer relationships, and earning new business across our aftermarket product lines,” King said.

Ethier has held leadership positions at Proliance International, Mack Truck, Navistar International and Volvo Group Canada. Before joining Stant, he was vice president of business development and operations for NorthGate and general manager at J. Thomas Distributors, where he led the outdoor and power equipment OEM and aftermarket divisions.

 

Ken-Tool Hires National Sales Manager 

Ben Graham is the new national sales manager for Akron, OH-based Ken-Tool. Graham also has responsibility for the company’s marketing initiatives. He has spent the last 20 years with Myers Tire Supply/Myers Industries and BJ Rocket America. In his new job, Graham reports to Douglas Romstadt, the president of Ken-Tool.

 

NEW … National Sales Manager

The Industry Leader in Licensed Automotive Accessories is looking for a National Sales Manager to manage and acquire regional and national retail accounts across multiple channels of distribution. This exciting opportunity to join a 45+ year old, privately held … Click here to find out more.

Westin Automotive: Marketing Manager

We have an immediate opening for a Marketing Manager with a passion for the automotive industry and strong marketing skills who can keep Westin positioned as the market leader in the truck accessories product space. This role is an outstanding opportunity for someone who understands how today’s marketing trends work. You will use your 5+ years of experience … Click here to find out more.

Spectra Premium: Director of Sales — Retail

The role of the Director of Sales- Retail is to manage and supervise the overall sales and marketing aspects of selected National Accounts in the United States for select product lines and to the exclusion of any other lines, while constantly looking for ways to improve the overall profitability of those accounts and being measured upon sales results versus the established budget… Click here to find out more.

 

Platinum Driveline Makes Product Development, Business Ops. Hires

Platinum Driveline (Eureka, MO) has hired Vivien Palacios as its product development analyst, responsible for new product development, existing product expansion, product life cycle review and vendor relations.

The company also has added Michelle Barbeau as its business operations coordinator, responsible for accounting, as well as administrative and financial reporting support. Barbeau has about a dozen years’ experience from the business-to-business, retail and wholesale manufacturing industries.

 

MacKay & Co. Adds Marketing Strategy & Sales Director

MacKay & Co. (Lombard, IL) — a market research and management consulting firm operating in the commercial trucking, construction and agricultural equipment industries — has added Ken Griswold as its director of market strategy and sales.

In this capacity, Griswold collaborates with the firm’s sales and marketing team, interfaces with clients, and leads projects. He is part of an effort to manage and expand MacKay & Co.’s product offerings by concentrating on developing brand strategies, market growth and product positioning for clients.

Griswold was the vice president of sales and marketing at Fleet Engineers. His background also includes over 20 years with SAF-Holland, where he held a variety of product marketing and leadership roles.

 

News Briefs 5/4/17

Accuride Corp. has completed its acquisition of KIC LLC and certain of its affiliated entities. KIC, headquartered in Vancouver, WA, is a supplier of wheels and wheel end components to the North American commercial vehicle industry.

BCA Bearings has received an Automotive Content Professionals Network (ACPN) President’s Award for Catalog Excellence in the mobile catalog category.

• Registration to attend the 2017 SEMA Show is now open at semashow.com/register. The show will take place Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 in Las Vegas.

Registration also is now open for the 2017 SEMA Show Education program. More than 100 sessions will be offered Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. Click here for more information.

 

Financial Briefs 5/4/17

Tenneco Inc.’s global aftermarket revenue increased 0.6 percent to $309 million in the first quarter of 2017. Excluding foreign currency, global aftermarket sales were up 0.3 percent. North American Ride Performance aftermarket revenue was down 8 percent, according to Jefferies LLC, which expects the business’ performance to improve over the balance of 2017.

• PACCAR Parts saw its sales and revenue increase by $67.20 million, or 9.3 percent, to $786.70 million in the first quarter of 2017. Pretax profit grew by $17.10 million, or 12.7 percent, to a record $151.70 million.

Essendant Inc.’s automotive product sales declined 0.8 percent to $78.81 million in the first three months of 2017. Deerfield, IL-based Essendant is the parent company to Nestor Sales and MEDCO.

• The Valvoline Inc. board of directors has authorized a share repurchase program, under which the company may repurchase as much as $150 million of its common stock. The term of this new repurchase program extends through Dec. 31, 2019.

 

 

16 — April 27, 2017

 

IMPORTANT EDITOR’S NOTE

Effective May 10, we will no longer be using our old “thegreensheetonline.com” email addresses. These email accounts will be taken offline, and we will no longer be able to be reached using these addresses.

Please check that you have us in your media lists and contacts using our “autocareweek.com” email addresses, as they will be the only active accounts going forward.

The following are our current, valid email addresses …
gary@autocareweek.com — Gary Molinaro, Publisher
marc@autocareweek.com — Marc Vincent, Editor
sarah@autocareweek.com — Sarah Hollander, Managing Editor

— Thank you!

 

BBB Comments On Farina Sentencing, Civil Cases

Daphne, AL-based BBB Industries on April 24 issued a statement in the wake of Joel Farina’s sentencing in a theft of trade secrets case filed against Farina after he left Cardone Industries to work for BBB. Farina reached a plea agreement and was sentenced to three years of probation. He also paid $150,000 in restitution, according to court records.

Cardone alleged that Farina transferred more than 25,000 company files between May 2013 and the time he left in September 2013 “with the intent to defraud and harm another and alter damage and delete property, without the effective consent of Cordone Industries Inc. …”

The files included technical information representing Cardone’s manufacturing costs. BBB was not implicated in court records seen by The Greensheet as having known about or participated in the theft.

BBB points out, in its statement, that there was no admission by Farina that he used or disclosed information to BBB.

“BBB Industries supported Mr. Farina throughout the process and has been winning business fairly,” Odd Joergenrud, chief commercial officer and president, is quoted as saying in the statement. “As one might imagine, Mr. Farina had been under a great deal of pressure in defending his innocence for several years.

“Mr. Farina’s plea in no way deters BBB Industries from its position that there was no wrongdoing, and we will continue to seek new business in the marketplace.”

Further, BBB writes that it has a civil suit filed in Pennsylvania against Cardone and “remains strongly confident” that it will prevail. “BBB is equally confident it will prevail in the civil case Cardone Industries has raised against it and Mr. Joel Farina in Texas,” BBB’s statement reads.

 

Tom Gallagher Retiring After 47 Years With Genuine Parts Company

Tom Gallagher, executive chairman of the Genuine Parts Co. (GPC), has informed the board of directors of his decision to retire as an executive officer and employee of the company, effective June 30. He will continue to serve as non-executive chairman of the board following his retirement.

Gallagher has been with GPC for 47 years. He has been chairman since 2005. Gallagher was president from 1990 to 2012 and CEO from 2004-’16.

In related news, the board has elected Sid Jones as the company’s senior vice president of investor relations. Jones has been with GPC for 27 years and was previously vice president of investor relations.

 

GPC’s U.S. Automotive Group Comps Decreased 1% In Q1

The Atlanta-based Genuine Parts Co. (GPC) saw its net sales rise 5 percent to $3.91 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Net income increased 1.4 percent to $160.16 million. It’s worth noting that the company’s 5-percent net sales growth was its strongest quarterly sales increase since the fourth quarter of 2014.

Net sales from GPC’s automotive operations — which accounted for 51 percent of the company’s total revenue in the quarter — increased 3.4 percent to just under $2.00 billion. Sequentially, it was an improvement over the 2.4-percent gain the group reported for the fourth quarter of 2016. Comparable-store sales were up 0.5 percent, driven by a 4-percent increase from the group’s international businesses.

Automotive Group operating profit decreased 1.3 percent to $151.76 million.

Total sales from the group’s U.S. operations — which represented over 70 percent of GPC’s total automotive revenue — were up 1 percent for the quarter. U.S. comp-store sales decreased 1 percent. 

According to President and CEO Paul Donahue, both the commercial and retail platforms were down slightly, reflecting headwinds from another mild winter season, as well as an overall challenging sales environment that persisted through the first three months of the year.

On the commercial side of the U.S. business, sales to NAPA AutoCare Centers were up 2 percent, attributable to growth in new members, while sales to major accounts and fleet customers “remained under pressure,” according to  Donahue’s remarks on an April 19 conference call.

“Sales were most challenged in the heating and cooling and undercar categories, which correlate to the warmer-than-average winter weather across much of the country during the quarter,” he told analysts on the call. “This was especially true in January and February, with the exception of pockets of more-normal winter temperatures in the northern Rockies and Northwest. These regions outperformed the balance of the country.”

Donahue addressed efforts to strengthen the group’s retail business, including the long-term growth potential of the NAPA Rewards Program (now at 4 million members and growing), as well as the rollout of management’s “retail impact initiative,” which includes installing new interior layouts and in-store graphics, extended store hours, and increased training for store associates.

“We are planning for more than 450 of these stores by the end of 2017,” Donahue said. “Although small in the overall scheme of total sales, the stores updated for this initiative continue to produce low-double-digit retail sales growth.”

The first quarter was the Automotive Group’s most difficult comp of the year in the United States. Management expects to see improving sales trends in the quarters ahead and, in particular, the second half of 2017. “This was generally our thinking going into 2017, and, to this point, we see this playing out accordingly,” Donahue said.

“We remain focused on expanding our business with our key commercial programs, NAPA AutoCare and major accounts; executing on our retail strategy; and driving footprint expansion via new store openings and strategic acquisitions,” he went on to say. “We continue to pursue accretive additions to our business.” Case in point: The acquisition of Merle’s Automotive, a 15-location automotive group based in Arizona.

On the international side, the group’s businesses in Australasia, Canada and Mexico delivered combined total sales that were up 8 percent, including a 4-percent comp sales increase in local currency, consistent with the fourth quarter of 2016.

In Australia and New Zealand, sales increased by high single digits, attributable to solid comp-sales growth and acquisitions made in the region. The business had 56 additional stores compared to the same period last year, and management sees opportunities for further expansion in the future.

At NAPA Canada, total and comp sales grew in the mid-single-digit range, slightly stronger than the fourth quarter of 2016. “Our growth prospects at NAPA Canada remain positive over the balance of 2017,” Donahue said.

In Mexico, sales increased by low double digits for the second consecutive quarter. “We continue to expand our NAPA Mexico footprint and today have 33 total stores, with plans to add additional stores in the quarters ahead,” Donahue said.       — Marc Vincent

 

Jury Finds Against GPC/NAPA In Wrongful Death Asbestos Case

A Washington state jury has determined that Genuine Parts Co. (GPC) and NAPA were liable in the asbestos-related death of a heavy equipment operator and awarded his survivors $81.50 million. The decision, made April 17, faces additional court hearings that most likely will reduce the amount.

In an SEC filing, GPC stated that it intends to challenge the verdict through post-trial motions and, if necessary, on appeal to a higher court.

“The company is disappointed with the jury’s verdict but recognizes that it is just the first step of a multi-step legal process,” the April 21 filing reads. “The company believes the verdict is not supported by the facts or the law and is contrary to the company’s role in the automotive parts industry.”

In its verdict, the jury found that GPC and NAPA were negligent and liable for asbestos-containing products used by Jerry “Doy” Coogan of Kettle Falls, WA. Coogan died from mesothelioma complications in 2015 at the age of 67. His lawyers believe he was exposed to asbestos from approximately the 1950s-’90s.

The personal injury/wrongful death case brought by Coogan’s wife, Gerri, was originally filed in the Superior Court of Washington for Pierce County in 2015.

“Many sellers of friction parts — such as brakes, clutches and gaskets — have known for nearly a century that their products contain asbestos and can kill. But, they refuse to acknowledge their responsibility,” said attorney Jessica Dean of Dallas-based Dean Omar & Branham, who helped represent the Coogan family.

GPC/NAPA was one of about two dozen companies originally named as defendants in the case. About a third of the companies settled. And, the other defendants were dismissed because lawyers didn’t feel they had enough evidence to prove the connections, according to Dean.

Liability was defined as: “negligent and unsafe design; failure to inspect, test, warn, instruct, monitor, and/or recall; failure to substitute safe products; marketing or installing unreasonably dangerous or extra-hazardous and/or defective products; marketing or installing products not reasonably safe as designed; marketing or installing products not reasonably safe for lack of adequate warning and marketing or installing products with misrepresentations of product safety.”

The jury found that GPC and NAPA manufactured, distributed, or sold a product that “was not reasonably safe as designed” and lacked adequate warnings or instructions, and that the unsafe condition of the products was “a proximate cause of injury” in Coogan’s case. The complaint and jury verdict form did not mention specific products.

The judge in the Washington case has scheduled a May 19 hearing to determine whether the $81.50-million jury award should be reduced based on earlier settlements, which have not been made public as of yet.

GPC/NAPA is counting on such a reduction. In its SEC filing, the company states that it believes the previous settlements and potential bankruptcy trust claims will reduce the initial award.

“The company has routinely defended lawsuits of this nature for over 20 years and considers this litigation to be in the ordinary course of business,” the SEC filing states. “Throughout this history, the company has never settled or otherwise resolved a case for a material amount.”

The filing goes on to state: “Based upon the company’s legal defenses, insurance coverage and reserves, the company does not believe this matter will have a material impact to the financial statements; however, this assessment may change as additional facts are known and the judicial process progresses.”        — Sarah Hollander

 

CCMP Capital Completes Purchase Of Truck Hero

Affiliates of CCMP Capital Advisors have completed their previously disclosed acquisition of a controlling interest in Truck Hero, parent company to ExtangTruxedoBedRugUnderCoverA.R.E.Husky LinersAutoCustomsReal Truck and more. Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

TA Associates, the former holder of a majority interest in Truck Hero — along with Truck Hero’s founding CEO, Bill Reminder, and Chief Operating Officer Kelly Kneifl — remain “significant” investors in the company. The amount of their stake has not been disclosed.

CCMP Capital specializes in middle-market buyouts and growth equity investments of $100 million to $500 million in North America and Europe. Under CCMP’s ownership, Truck Hero is expected to continue to pursue organic growth and add-on acquisitions.

 

Continental, JohnDow And Hamaton Settle TPMS Patent Claims

Continental Automotive Systems, the Hamaton Automotive Technology Co. and JohnDow Industries have settled infringement claims involving U.S. patents for Continental’s universal, multi-application REDI-Sensor.

As part of the settlement, Hamaton (Hangzhou, China) and Barberton, OH-based JohnDow agreed to discontinue the manufacture and sale of their current multi-application TPMS sensors by March 30. They’ve also agreed to pay Continental an undisclosed sum of money.

The parties have agreed to dismiss, with prejudice, their claims and counterclaims against one another. Other details of the settlement remain confidential.

Hamaton manufactures and distributes parts under the Hamaton brand. Separately, JohnDow contracts Hamaton to manufacture parts, including TPMS kits and sensors, under a private label (the Dynamic brand).

Continental filed the case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division, last May. JohnDow and Hamaton followed with counterclaims. The complaints addressed the history of preprogrammed universal TPMS transmitter sensors — a market that heated up after the United States began requiring TPMS sensors on all new light vehicles by 2007.

Continental began marketing its REDI-Sensor as the first universal “ready right out of the box” TPMS transmitter in 2012. The technology sends a burst of information relaying tire pressure data in multiple protocols and can communicate with different vehicle makes and models with no need for programming. Related patents were issued in 2013 and 2014.

“Continental spent years and millions on research and development, and patented this technology,” its complaint reads.

Hamaton and JohnDow, however, claimed that Hamaton launched its own program to develop such a transmitter in 2008, partnering with an engineering firm and the University of Hong Kong. They completed development in 2009 without any knowledge of Continental’s work and before Continental filed for the patents, according to a court filing.

The sensors at issue in the lawsuit sold under the brand names 31 Inc. Multi-pro and JohnDow Dynamic DVT-Sensors.

Hamaton and JohnDow will no longer make or sell those sensors. According to Aaron Bradford, an attorney for Hamaton and JohnDow, the companies had planned to roll out their next-generation TPMS program featuring programmable TPMS sensors before receiving the lawsuit.

“There are a variety of different types of universal TPMS sensor programs, including clonable, selectable, programmable and multi-application sensors,” Bradford explained. “Each works differently to allow a tire retailer to use an aftermarket sensor to replace an OE sensor. Today, JohnDow and Hamaton sell universal sensors that fall into the category of selectable sensors.”      — Sarah Hollander

 

AutoZone Sells $600 Million In Notes

AutoZone Inc. has sold $600 million in 3.75-percent notes due 2027. The company will pay interest on the notes on June 1 and Dec. 1 of each year, beginning Dec. 1, 2017. The notes will mature June 1, 2027.

The notes will be senior unsecured debt obligations of AutoZone, and will rank equally with the company’s other senior unsecured liabilities and senior to any future subordinated indebtedness of AutoZone.

The notes are subject to customary covenants restricting the company’s ability (subject to certain exceptions) to incur debt secured by liens, to enter into sale and leaseback transactions, or to merge or consolidate with another entity or sell substantially all of its assets to another person. Click here to read additional terms and restrictions.

 

Levine Auto & Truck Parts Honors Top Suppliers For 2016

Levine Auto & Truck Parts, an Automotive Parts Associates (APA) member, recognized Centric Parts as its 2016 Vendor of the Year at the company’s annual awards banquet April 22 in Danbury, CT. Also recognized were Upol for Outstanding Automotive Refinishing Products & Representation, and Standard Motor Products for Outstanding Training & Representation.

Danbury-based Levine Auto & Truck Parts has eight locations, three warehouses, and over 170 employees in Connecticut and New York.

 

Meritor Launches New E-Commerce Platform

Meritor Inc. (Troy, MI) has launched a new e-commerce platform designed to make it easier for U.S. and Canadian customers to shop for Meritor Aftermarket parts on their computers, smartphones or tablets. The new website, MeritorPartsXpress.com, replaces MeritorPartsOnline.com in the United States and Canada.

In addition to searching for replacement parts and product information, visitors to MeritorPartsXpress.com can …
• Obtain pricing, parts availability and interchange part numbers;
• Create requisition lists;
• Track shipping status; and
• Locate local dealers or distributors.

Registered users can log in to find additional features and perform multiple functions, such as …
• Reviewing account information for their current orders, saved orders and requisition lists;
• Placing stock or filling emergency orders; and
• Requesting competitor cross references.

 

Accuride Bolsters Wheel End Systems Offering Via Acquisition

Accuride Corp. (Evansville, IN), a supplier of components to the North American and European commercial vehicle industries, has reached an agreement to acquire KIC LLC and certain affiliated entities. KIC, headquartered in Vancouver, WA, is a supplier of wheel end components to the North American commercial vehicle industry.

The addition of KIC would mark Accuride’s first acquisition under the ownership of Crestview Partners, a New York-based private equity firm. Crestview acquired Accuride in November as a growth platform in the global commercial vehicle components industry.

The transaction is expected to close in the current quarter.

Accuride president and CEO Rick Dauch said the deal allows Accuride to increase its competitiveness and expand into new market segments. “Our similar product and technology offerings mesh well, while the combination of our highly complementary business models gives us greater capacity and ability to flex up and down in response to industry cycles and customer demand,” Dauch said. “We are excited to work with KIC co-founder Greg Hatton and his leadership team to fully leverage the strengths of both KIC and our Gunite business.”

 

Fram Launches New Campaign

Fram has launched a new campaign targeting younger DIYers that uses Jonathan Banks of Breaking Bad and its spinoff, Better Call Saul. The campaign introduces the character, Frampa, which plays off Banks’ “ultimate fixer” character. The concept is a salty sage who teaches the next generation of DIYers to do right by their cars.

“People used to learn about changing their oil from someone more experienced, like a father or an uncle. Those older guys historically reached for the Fram filter. But, the current generation hasn’t been taught the value of using the right filter, and they go for the cheap one,” said Fram brand manager Brian Kelley. “We wanted to introduce the kind of mentor who people will trust to help them do the whole job right.”

The campaign also uses a new tagline for the brand, “Filter Out The Nonsense.”

 

CAWA Summer Forum Scheduled For June 22-23

The CAWA Summer Educational Forum will be held June 22-23 at the Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside. The event features industry experts offering insights on a variety of topics, including …
• “New Aftermarket Realities,” presented by Bill Long of AASA;
• “Remote Vehicle Data,” presented by Jim Dykstra of Innova Telematics Solutions;
• “Embedded Software & the Aftermarket,” presented by Michael Kealey of Dorman Products; and
• “Association Business,” presented by CAWA CEO Rodney Pierini.

For more information, click here.

 

Business Opportunities In Nicaragua Webinar Slated For May

The Auto Care Association and the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua will host a free webinar on business opportunities in the Nicaraguan automotive industry on May 18. The event will feature a country briefing from U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Laura Dogu, market information and best prospects, as well as information about U.S. Commercial Service in-country support and the association’s trade mission to Central America (Honduras on Sept. 26 and Nicaragua on Sept. 28).

There is no fee to attend the webinar, but attendees must register at tinyurl.com/nicaragua-web. The webinar is open to Auto Care Association members and non-members. Attendees are encouraged to register early because of limited availability.

 

Paul McCarthy Assumes New Role At AASA

Paul McCarthy — senior vice president of strategy, planning and insights at MEMA — has assumed an additional position at AASA as its executive vice president. In this new role, McCarthy will provide executive and strategic leadership to advance the business interests of AASA members. He also will continue in his MEMA role as a member of the association’s executive staff, reporting to MEMA CEO Steve Handschuh.

“Paul joined the MEMA team in April 2011, where he has worked in strategic leadership positions at AASA and MEMA to build a focus on creating relevant member value,” said Bill Long, AASA president and chief operating officer. “He will continue to be an asset for all of MEMA, including his expanded role at AASA.”

Prior to joining AASA, McCarthy led the automotive and industrial products strategy practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). There, he worked for numerous automotive suppliers, automakers, private equity firms and financial institutions. McCarthy was PWC’s leading global automotive industry subject-matter expert.

 

Westin Automotive: Marketing Manager

We have an immediate opening for a Marketing Manager with a passion for the automotive industry and strong marketing skills who can keep Westin positioned as the market leader in the truck accessories product space. This role is an outstanding opportunity for someone who understands how today’s marketing trends work. You will use your 5+ years of experience … Click here to find out more.

Spectra Premium: Director of Sales — Retail

The role of the Director of Sales- Retail is to manage and supervise the overall sales and marketing aspects of selected National Accounts in the United States for select product lines and to the exclusion of any other lines, while constantly looking for ways to improve the overall profitability of those accounts and being measured upon sales results versus the established budget… Click here to find out more.

For Sale: Parts Distributor

Parts distributor with 2 desirable locations in high growth West Coast location in major metro market. Commercial and retail sales for import and domestic vehicles. Click here to find out more.

Sales Manager

Work alongside the marketing team to review market analyses to determine customer needs, price schedules, and discount rates. Directs sales agencies in territory development activity and coordinates sales distribution by establishing quotas and setting goals. Click here to find out more.

 

Hastings Mfg. Hires Business Development Director

The Hastings Manufacturing Co. has hired Jose Segovia as its director of business development, Latin America. In this capacity, he provides full sales and marketing management of Hastings Piston Rings for the Latin American aftermarket.

Segovia comes to Hastings with over 15 years of engine component sales and marketing experience — all in Latin America. This includes time managing piston ring sales efforts in Latin America for Nippon Piston Ring (NPR).

 

Mike Feldman Returns To Fast Undercar

Mike Feldman is now the southern California business development manager for Fast Undercar (Ventura, CA). He is responsible for sales and marketing for regional accounts, product support and training, as well as operations at select regional corporate locations.

Feldman brings more than 20 years of experience in the auto parts industry, most recently with AutoMD as director of traditional accounts. He also was a sales manager for One Stop Parts Source.

Feldman worked at Fast Undercar from 2005-’11 as a liaison to franchise locations.

 

Valvoline Taps Sam Pennington For Regional Manager Post

Sam Pennington is now a regional business manager for Valvoline. Pennington joined Valvoline in 2015 as trade marketing manager. Prior to that, he worked for the Automotive Distribution Network as a communications manager, marketing coordinator and IT administrator.

Bobbi Brophy will be taking over responsibilities as trade marketing manager at Valvoline.

 

Denso Adds Director Of Americas Operations

Denso Products & Services Americas has added Brett Lowie as its director of Americas operations, responsible for overseeing all Denso Parts Department shipping operations across North America. Lowie comes to Denso with over 30 years of experience in high-volume parts distribution, warehousing and supply chain management.

Lowie’s career in the automotive industry dates back to 1986 as a parts distribution center manager for Chrysler. He also has worked for Penske Logistics, overseeing 25 West Coast distribution centers and related transportation and installation services. Prior to joining Denso, Lowie spent eight years with Mercedes-Benz USA as its department manager of parts distribution and related operations.

 

VP Racing Fuels Adds Marketing Director

VP Racing Fuels (San Antonio) has added Donato Bonacquisto as its director of marketing, responsible for advertising, sponsorships, event management, and public relations in support of all VP business divisions, including race fuel, branding, and consumer products.

Bonacquisto comes to VP from Hankook Tire America, where he was its motorsports and events manager. Prior to that, he held management positions at multiple NASCAR teams in both marketing and business development capacities.

In a related move, VP’s chief marketing officer, Chris Wall, is transitioning to a new position as senior director of branded retail. As such, Wall is responsible for wholesale brand development, including VP-branded gas stations and convenience stores, as well as VP Fastlube service centers. He leads a team of regional sales managers, as well as pursues large customers both nationally and internationally.

 

Shane Evangelist Joins Software Company

Shane Evangelist, the former CEO of U.S. Auto Parts Network, is now CEO of NEOGOV (El Segundo, CA). The company produces human resources software products focused on the government and education sectors. “I will truly miss the relationships I developed in the aftermarket and will keep a close eye on it,” Evangelist said.

 

People Watching 4/27/17

• McHenry, IL-based Brake Parts Inc. (BPI) has hired H.T. Chang as its new vice president of product development, engineering, R&D and quality. Prior to joining BPI, Chang spent 10 years with ZF TRW Automotive Systems in various roles, such as chief engineer – foundation brake development, chief engineer – global friction engineering and engineering manager. His past also includes time as a staff engineer with Delphi and a senior product manager with General Motors.

Chrissy Gilmore is back with Thermo-Tec Automotive (Greenwich, OH) as CEO. The daughter of Thermo-Tec founders Jim and Donna White, Gilmore returns to the heat and sound management products company where she has held positions in packaging, shipping and receiving, and accounting. She will begin working with her brother, Jeremy, on a new approach to marketing and advertising, as well as on expanding the Thermo-Tec product line.

TecNiq Inc. (Richland, MI) — a manufacturer of LED lighting for the commercial fleet, trailer, marine, RV and emergency vehicle markets — has hired Jennifer McNees and Marcus Nelson as sales associates. Representing TecNiq’s full line of products, McNees will focus on trailers and Nelson on marine.

• The Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) will honor Robert “Pete” Joy of Phillips Industries with the group’s President’s Award this fall. The award recognizes contributions to the heavy-duty aftermarket and the promotion and support of independent aftermarket distributors. The award will be presented during the CVSN Annual Aftermarket Distribution Summit to be held Sept. 9-13 in Amelia Island, FL.

 

News Briefs 4/27/17

Mevotech has received the 2016 Vendor of the Year from Fast Undercar.

• Honeywell is poised to open a $300-million plant in Geismar, LA to produce its HFO-1234yf automobile refrigerant Solstice vf. A grand-opening event for the new facility is scheduled for May 16. Honeywell is billing the plant as its largest global base for producing the refrigerant.

• Cook Brothers Truck Parts (Binghamton, NY) and Original Parts Warehouse (Vaughan, Ontario) are now members of the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network. Cook Brothers has 10 locations in New York and Pennsylvania. Original Parts Warehouse is a heavy duty truck parts distributor with national reach.

Keystone Automotive Operations now carries wheel accessories from Revolution Supply, as well as items from Rocket Bunny, GReddy Racing, NRG Innovations and Motul.

• Dill Air Controls Products has selected Evokat from Illumaware to manage its ACES and PIES aftermarket data.

• The application deadline for the Auto Care Careers Internship Scholarship program has been extended to June 30. Click here for more information.

Women in Auto Care (formerly the Car Care Council Women’s Board) has launched a new website as part of its rebranding initiative.

 

Financial Briefs 4/27/17

• Analysts from Jefferies LLC wrote in an April 18 report titled Looking Under the Hood that channel checks show aftermarket stores located near the U.S./Mexico border are underperforming relative to the generally stronger southern markets, perhaps because of lower store traffic tied to the Trump administration’s stance on immigration, which is likely impacting local DIY customers.

Illinois Tool Works (ITW) reports that its automotive aftermarket organic revenue grew 2 percent in the first quarter of 2017.

• The Kent Automotive unit of Lawson Products saw its sales increase 8.5 percent in the first three months of 2017 when compared to the previous year.

 

Event & Trade Show Briefs 4/27/17

• The 2017 SEMA ShowPriority Space Selection Process begins May 1. Companies that submitted booth space applications prior to March 31 are eligible to participate. Click here for more information.

• The Auto Care Association’s Import Vehicle Community will host a “community forum” discussion on the Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) during the association’s Spring Leadership Days next month in San Antonio. The BAT forum will run from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Thursday, May 4.

• The HDA Truck Pride 2017 Annual Membership Meeting will include a GenNext HD mentoring event, pairing veteran board members and supplier partner executives with commercial vehicle industry professionals born between 1975 and 1995 to share their knowledge and experience. The HDA Truck Pride Annual Membership Meeting will take place May 3-7 in Orlando, FL. Click here for more information about the meeting.

• Filter Manufacturers Council (FMC) committees — catalog, EHS, heavy duty, other-motive, quality and marketing — will hold their spring meeting May 16-18 in Cleveland. Click here for more information.

• The Brake Manufacturers Council (BMC) will meet June 1-2 at the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club in conjunction with the Friction Materials Standards Institute (FMSI) annual meeting taking place that week. Click here for more information.

• The SEMA Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) will host a General Membership Meeting on June 15 at the Detroit Metro Airport Marriot. Click here for more information.

• The Auto Care Association’s Upholstery & Trim International Council (UTIC) will hold its 2017 convention Sept. 12-15 at the Embassy Suites by Louisville Downtown in Louisville, KY. Registration will open in June.

Women in Automotive (WIA), a group that works to empower and develop women in the automotive sector, is expanding its annual conference to two venues in 2017. The organization’s Orlando conference is scheduled for July 9-11. An inaugural West Coast event is scheduled for Dec. 10-11 in Palm Springs, CA.

 

 

15 — April 20, 2017

 

ATP Being Reorganized, Operating At The Present Time

Changes are coming for ATP Automotive (Elk Grove Village, IL). The exact nature of those changes is unclear at this time.

Subscribers began contacting The Greensheet this week to alert us to reports that ATP had let some workers go and that they had trouble getting in touch with company representatives. We were unable to get official confirmation of any job losses.

An official from ATP referred our questions to Howard Samuels of Rally Capital Services. Samuels founded Rally Capital in 1998. The business helps companies clarify, stabilize and find creative solutions to complex financial, administrative and operational challenges, according to its website.

While stating that giving a statement to the press at this time would be inappropriate, Samuels did tell The Greensheet that “as of right now, we are in the process of reorganizing the company.”

“We have probably two or three serious parties that we are talking to as far as transitioning this as a going concern. I don’t believe, at this point in time, that ATP will be going out of business,” Samuels told us. “We are operating at the present time.”

Expect more details in the coming days and weeks.      — Marc Vincent

 

Industry Veteran Joel Farina Sentenced For Theft Of Trade Secrets

Former longtime Cardone Industries executive Joel Farina has been sentenced to three years of probation, ending a trade secrets case filed against him after he left Cardone to work for BBB Industries. He also paid $150,000 in restitution prior to his plea, according to court records.

The original indictment included a breach of computer security charge and two counts of theft of trade secrets. In a deal with prosecutors, however, Farina pleaded guilty to one theft of trade secrets count, a third degree felony. The other counts were waived.

The case was decided in the 432nd judicial district court in Tarrant County, TX, where Farina lives. If Farina’s probation is revoked, he faces as much as 10 years in prison, according to the court.

A civil lawsuit is still pending.

Farina joined Philadelphia-based Cardone in 1991 and worked there for 22 years. He was senior vice president of sales when he left in September 2013 to join Daphne, AL-based BBB as senior vice president of aftermarket retail sales.

Cardone alleged that Farina transferred more than 25,000 company files between May 2013 and the time he quit “with the intent to defraud and harm another and alter damage and delete property, without the effective consent of Cordone Industries Inc. …”

The files included technical information representing Cardone’s manufacturing costs. Only two specific items are mentioned in the court documents. Those were: AAP Caliper GPM 6-21-12.XLSX and AAP GPM ANALYSIS 7-23- 2012.XLSX.

The theft resulted in direct and indirect losses of about $2 million for Cardone, including the cost of developing the information in the files, lost profit from AutoZone and O’Reilly Automotive, and digital forensics and data recovery, according to court records.

BBB was not implicated in court records seen by The Greensheet as having known about or participated in the theft.

Farina pleaded guilty to the one count March 21. His sentence also included a $10,000 fine, court costs, and a provision to avoid working in direct competition with Cardone on a worldwide basis during his probation.

Company representatives did not return requests for comment. A message left on Farina’s BBB work voicemail went unreturned. He was scheduled to terminate his employment with BBB by April 21 as a stipulation of his plea agreement.           — Sarah Hollander

 

Jefferies: Weather Likely Dampened Retailer/Installer Q1 Performance

In an Industry Note dated April 18, analysts from Jefferies LLC wrote that regional weather headwinds likely weighed on retailers’ and installers’ first-quarter 2017 performance.

For the first three months of the year, Jefferies is modeling average retailer and distributor comp-store sales growth of +0.5 percent — a deceleration from +2.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016. The expected sequential downturn is pegged to weather, as well as lapping the most difficult comparison from the prior year (+2.9 percent for the first quarter of 2016).

“We believe the Northeast and Midwest regions continued to underperform, as the second consecutive year of unseasonably warm winter temperatures weighed on seasonal demand,” analysts Bret Jordan, David Kelley and Mark Jordan wrote in their report. “We note that Advance Auto Parts has the largest exposure to the regions with 49 percent of stores in the Northeast, East North Central and Central markets, followed by AutoZone with 39 percent and O’Reilly Automotive with 32 percent.”

Accordingly, Jefferies has lowered its comp estimates for Advance Auto Parts to -1.5 percent, AutoZone to +2.5 percent and O’Reilly to 3 percent.

Suppliers, the analysts pointed out, likely faced similar seasonal demand headwinds. “We expect relatively weak demand for cold-weather-related products (rotating electric, batteries, undercar) due to continued warm temperatures in Q1,” the report reads. “However, we note that pockets of colder weather could have spurred higher failure rates due to pent-up demand after last year’s warm winter season.”

 

GPC Buys Merle’s Auto Supply, Expands Arizona Footprint

The Genuine Parts Co.’s U.S. Automotive Parts Group has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Merle’s Automotive Supply. Tucson, AZ-based Merle’s is an auto parts distributor serving both the commercial and retail markets with 14 locations in southern Arizona. A Parts Plus member of the Automotive Distribution Network, the company’s stores have done business as Merle’s Auto Supply.

The transaction has an effective close date of May 1. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. The addition of Merle’s is expected to generate roughly $45 million in annual revenue, according to GPC.

This acquisition enhances GPC’s automotive store footprint and competitiveness in the Arizona marketplace, according to GPC president and CEO Paul Donahue.

 

Restructuring Complete, Transtar Emerges From Chapter 11

The Transtar Holding Co. (Walton Hills, OH) has emerged from Ch.-11 bankruptcy protection, its plan of reorganization complete and confirmed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Transtar filed for bankruptcy protection late last year, with a joint, prepackaged plan of reorganization that, management hoped, would lead to a brief, court-supervised restructuring process.

Transtar emerges from Chapter 11 with a revamped financial position, having deleveraged its balance sheet by nearly $300 million. The first-lien term loan, originally issued at $420 million, is being reduced to $200 million, and the entire $170-million second-lien debt facility is being retired. In addition, the company has entered into a new, $74-million senior secured credit facility that management says will pay off Transtar’s debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing, as well as provide additional liquidity for the company.

Ed Orzetti, CEO of Transtar, said the company’s new capital structure provides management with the flexibility needed to pursue growth objectives and positions Transtar for long-term success. “In addition, we are extremely pleased that the plan we put forward will allow us to pay in full all creditors who continue to do business with Transtar,” Orzetti stated.

“I want to sincerely thank Transtar’s suppliers, business partners, and our customers for their patience and collaboration through this process,” he added.

Funds managed by Friedman Fleischer & Lowe LLC (FFL) are now the majority equity holder of Transtar. FFL held the company’s aforementioned first-lien debt. The San Francisco-based private equity firm made its initial investment in Transtar in 2010.

Timothy Lavelle, a member of Transtar’s board of directors, said the board “has confidence in Transtar management and the go-forward plan for the business, and is excited about the company’s future.” Lavelle is a senior analyst at Silver Point Capital.

Transtar is a privately held corporation that makes, remanufactures, and distributes aftermarket driveline replacement parts and components. The company’s flagship product is its transmission rebuilder kit. Transtar also is a supplier of autobody refinishing products such as clear coats, paints and primers, as well as a manufacturer of air conditioning, cooling, and power steering assemblies and components.

According to a 2016 declaration to the court made by Executive Vice President and CFO Joseph Santangelo, higher-than-expected difficulty related to the integration of the ETX business led to Transtar significantly underperforming in 2015. Consolidated EBITDA declined 22 percent on a year-over-year basis. Trailing-12-months revenue at the end of the first quarter of 2016 declined 2.8 percent.

According to Santangelo’s statement, this gave rise to a “liquidity crisis” for Transtar, as well as defaults of the financial covenants set forth in its first- and second-lien credit agreements. Restructuring negotiations followed, taking place throughout the second, third and fourth quarters of 2016. This led to a restructuring support agreement and the Ch.-11 bankruptcy proceedings.

Jones Day LLP was legal counsel, Ducera Partners was investment banker and FTI Consulting was restructuring advisor to Transtar.        — Marc Vincent

 

Greensheet Fourth-Quarter 2016 Financial Reports Chart

Each quarter, Auto Care Week/The Greensheet tracks key financial data from a number of companies publicly traded in the United States and Canada, and doing business in the North American auto care industry. We compile those top-line and bottom-line results for you to see, at a glance, how these companies fared. The listing is organized by increase/decrease in net sales.

Click here to view The Greensheet Fourth-Quarter 2016 Financial Reports Chart.

 

O’Reilly Lands $1.20-Billion Senior Unsecured Revolving Credit Facility

On April 5, O’Reilly Automotive entered into a new credit agreement with JPMorgan Chase Bank as administrative agent, swing line lender, letter of credit issuer and a lender, as well as other lenders. None of O’Reilly’s subsidiaries are guarantors or obligors under the new credit agreement, which replaces a previous credit agreement with Bank of America dating back to 2011.

The new credit agreement establishes a $1.20-billion senior unsecured revolving credit facility, with a $200-million sub-limit for the issuance of letters of credit and a $75-million sub-limit for swing line borrowings. The new pact matures in 2022; however, O’Reilly may — subject to customary notices and conditions — request as many as two extensions of the maturity date, in each case for an additional period of one year.

The credit agreement also provides for an uncommitted incremental facility that permits O’Reilly — subject to certain conditions — to increase the commitments under the new senior unsecured revolving credit facility by as much as $600 million, provided that the aggregate amount of the commitments does not exceed $1.80 billion at any time.

Click here for more information on the new credit agreement, including customary events of default.

 

Müller Brakes America Enters International Markets

Müller Brakes America has begun marketing its line of aftermarket brake products, including pads, disc rotors, and fluids in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The New York-based company, an affiliate of Hardex Brakes, is pursuing new agreements with buying groups, wholesalers, parts chain stores, smaller retailers, mechanics and jobbers in those areas.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based Hardex has been active in both domestic and international markets under different brands since 2008. Müller, which had been focused on the U.S. and Canadian markets until now, will use the distribution network Hardex has developed over the years.

“There is a huge potential in some overseas markets like Latin America, the Middle East and even Africa due to the lack of high-quality products,” Ali Ahmadi, quality manager for Müller Brakes, said. “At this moment, these markets have been flooded with generic, knock-off Chinese brands with extremely poor quality.”

Müller plans to establish brand visibility through new product tooling, private-labeling, stock-lift programs and other initiatives. Its products are manufactured in Belgium, China, and Brazil, and the overseas markets will be served through distribution facilities in the United States, Brazil, China, and Belgium.

Along with Ecobrex Parts, a subsidiary of Hardex, Müller Brakes helped launch a membership program called My Parts Club last year. The program — which covered a lifetime supply of car parts, roadside assistance and mechanic servicing for a monthly fee — has since shut down, but may be revived with a similar program in the future, according to Ahmadi.      — Sarah Hollander

 

The First Of Two New Mopar PDCs Has Opened

FCA US has opened a 400,000-plus-square-foot Mopar parts distribution center (PDC) in Winchester, VA — a $12.20-million investment, according to the automaker. It is the first of two planned Mopar PDCs expected to open in the United States this year.

A 500,000-square-foot PDC is under construction in Romulus, MI. That facility, a $10.40-million investment, is projected to open in the fourth quarter.

The Winchester facility will handle over 50,000 total part numbers, distributed to more than 200 FCA US dealerships, primarily in the Mid-Atlantic region. It is expected to ship approximately 9.20 million pieces annually.

The new facility is Mopar’s 22nd PDC in North America.

 

Jury Finds For TEK Global In Tire Repair Patent Case

A San Francisco jury has ruled in favor of TEK Global in its longstanding legal dispute with Sealant Systems International (SSI) over an automatic tire inflation and repair kit patent. The jury awarded TEK nearly $2.53 million in lost profits and more then $255,000 in royalties.

“TEK is pleased that, after so many years, justice has been served,” attorney Ashok Ramani said. The company had originally asked for $2.90 million, Ramani said.

TEK, an Italian company, began complaining of infringement in 2009 and filed suit against SSI a year later in New York. In 2011, California-based SSI filed a suit in its home state, seeking to invalidate TEK’s patent.

The California case, in the U.S. District Court’s Northern Division, took jurisdiction.

SSI claimed that it was “highly probable” that TEK’s invention would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the field at the time the patent application was filed. The jury, however, found that was not the case and ruled that patent infringement had been proven on three claims.

SSI attorneys and other company representatives did not return requests for comment. According to a court document, however, SSI is seeking to stay the monetary judgment pending an appeal.         — Sarah Hollander

 

Study: Less Than Half Of U.S. DIYers Purchase Motor Oil Based On Promos

Less than half of DIY consumers purchase motor oil on promotion, according to The Passenger Car Motor Oil Purchase Journey, a new study from The NPD Group (Port Washington, NY). Yet, promotional activity has increased for this product, with 14 percent more in-store circular motor oil ads in 2016 compared to the prior prior.

“There is a lot of promotional activity around the motor oil category in terms of the frequency, depth, number and type. But, as a must-have category, this raises the question of how effective these discounts are at generating additional sales,” said Nathan Shipley, a director and automotive industry analyst with NPD. “Consumers have shown they are willing to spend on what is necessary to keep their vehicles running at the optimal level, even if it comes at a certain price.”

NPD’s study found that over 80 percent of DIY consumers made a planned motor oil purchase, as opposed to buying on impulse, and more than half purchased oil to use right away.

Additionally, over 40 percent of consumers relied on mileage as the key indicator for an oil change, compared to 2 percent who indicated that a coupon, promotion, seeing oil in a store or seeing it in an ad drove their purchase.

Once prompted, DIY consumers began the purchase process with store selection and tended to be retailer-loyal when shopping for motor oil. They were not as likely to switch based on branded promotions, according to NPD, because they preferred to shop at a familiar store.

The study shows that, though not the sole deciding factor, price played a role in consumers’ thought process, as all DIY consumers considered motor oil type and form, as well as price, to be most important when they began the purchase journey.

In the store, consideration shifted for non-Millennials, who tended to look first at brand. Meanwhile, Millennials equally prioritized brand, type and price. Also, Millennials were more likely to purchase oil-change-related items or unrelated products, such as air fresheners and washer fluid, when in the store for motor oil.

“Being a necessity, consumers will, no matter what, be in stores to buy motor oil,” Shipley said. “With that, the opportunity for retailers and manufacturers lies less in promoting this category and more in capitalizing on the consumer while he is in the store, and driving impulse purchases.”

Additional highlights from NPD’s The Passenger Car Motor Oil Purchase Journey study …
• Over half of consumers are loyal to their oil change method;
• About a third of DIY consumers switch between DIY and DIFM;
• 76 percent of DIFM consumers who switched from DIY did so five or more years ago;
• 30 percent of DIFM customers have transitioned from a DIY oil purchase to a service provider installation;
• One third of oil change service occasions included a special offer or coupon, and more than half of those special offers were for discounts of $10 or less;
• 82 percent of DIFM vehicle owners were aware of the type and formulation used in their most recent oil change; and
• Two of the top 10 DIY retailers considered for most recent oil purchase were e-tailers.

 

Multi Parts Looking To Build SPARK Advisory Group

Multi Parts (MPS) plans to improve its annual SPARK initiative by forming an advisory group to help shape programming at AAPEX and throughout the year. The company is looking for senior and experienced members of the aftermarket who could commit to a year of service, which likely would include two or three conference calls.

“We’ll be looking at: What can we do better? What can we do differently? And, How can we expand to more than just AAPEX?” said Greg DuBose, a principal and chief brand strategist for the Bella Group, MPS’s marketing company.

Now in its fourth year, SPARK is an industry-immersion program, giving students the opportunity to experience the auto care industry. Participants attend AAPEX, where they’re exposed to specifically designed programming, meet-and-greets and other opportunities to learn from industry leaders.

The program is underwritten by Jupiter, FL-based Multi Parts, with volunteer help from industry participants.

SPARK started in 2014 with six students. This year, organizers plan to select 16 participants. (The deadline for student applications is June 1).

MPS has narrowed its focus to students interested in core business activities in the automotive aftermarket, said Jeff Stankard, MPS’s vice president of business development. Examples include ownership, management, product development, cataloging, pricing, marketing, sales, logistics, finance, information technology and human resources.

An emphasis on veterans will continue, as will a push for diversity, Stankard said.

“We’re looking at ways to reach out to other schools and students who might not even be thinking about aftermarket jobs,”  DuBose said.

Also in store for SPARK this year: an overhauled website. In addition, MPS has created a LinkedIn group for SPARK students and alumni as a way to keep in touch.

“When Barry Cohen (MPS chairman) came up with the idea for SPARK, we recognized that, without other industry folks coming alongside us, the program could never be what it truly can be,” DuBose said. “It’s really been a wonderful thing to see how open the industry has been.”

Anyone interested in joining the advisory group can contact Jeff Stankard at jeff.Stankard@multiparts.net or (561) 748-1515.       — Sarah Hollander

 

Randys Buys Zumbrota Bearing & Gear, Cascade Component Parts

Randys Worldwide (Everett, WA) has acquired Minnesota-based Zumbrota Bearing & Gear (ZBAG). ZBAG’s core business is remanufactured transfer cases, differentials, manual transmissions and related component parts. Cascade Component Parts, a distributor of OE and aftermarket components, which is owned by ZBAG, also becomes part of Randys. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Randys is a distributor of aftermarket differential and performance parts for general automotive, motorsports and off-road. With the addition of Zumbrota and Cascade, Randys gains additional product coverage for transfer cases and manual transmissions.

ZBAG now joins the Randys group of businesses, which includes Yukon Gear & Axle, USA Standard Gear and Diff Wizard.

“With the recent launch of Yukon Performance and USA Standard OE replacement driveshafts, we are now poised to be a more complete undercar leader in all driveline parts,” said Kevin Kaestner, president and CEO of Randys. “Our interest in ZBAG stems from their commitment to providing quality remanufactured units and replacement products. These product offerings — supported by amazing customer service and technical industry expertise — will continue to build Randys Worldwide as a leader in undercar driveline products.”

 

UAP Acquires The Distribution Activities Of Freno

The Heavy Vehicle Parts Division of Montreal-based UAP Inc. has acquired the distribution activities of Service de Freins Montréal Ltée (Freno). The four Freno stores — located in the Quebec cities of Anjou, Boucherville, St.-Laurent and Mirabel — will be integrated into UAP’s Traction store network, as will all the employees involved in sales, distribution and delivery.

In addition, UAP and Freno have concluded a strategic agreement intended to accelerate the sales of remanufactured clutches and specialized radiators manufactured by Freno. The pact also covers parts supplied by UAP’s TW distribution center in Longueuil for the needs of Freno. Additionally, Freno’s heavy vehicle repair center in Anjou will join the TruckPro network.

This is the third acquisition in recent months for UAP’s Heavy Vehicle Parts Division. Last December, the company acquired Buy-Rite Truck Parts and G.P.I.C.S., located in the Toronto area.

UAP’s Heavy Vehicle Parts Division sells and distributes parts and components for trucks, trailers, and heavy vehicles across Canada. Its network is comprised of more than 100 Traction stores, 125 TruckPro repair shops, six TW and CADEL warehouses, and MTC (a spring leaf manufacturing plant).

 

Monroe Truck Equipment Purchases Towmaster

Monroe Truck Equipment (Monroe, WI) has acquired Towmaster Inc. of Litchfield, MN, a fifth-wheel trailer manufacturer, as well as a maker, distributor and installer of snow- and ice-related truck equipment. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Monroe is a manufacturer, distributor and installer of specialized truck equipment, including snow- and ice-control products. The company upfits heavy-, medium- and light-duty vehicles for municipal, commercial, and fleet customers.
The acquisition of Towmaster adds an installation facility in Litchfield, MN to Monroe’s network in Marshfield, WI; DePere, WI; Flint, MI; Joliet, IL; and Louisville, KY.

Monroe is a portfolio company of Industrial Opportunity Partners, a private equity firm in Evanston, IL.

 

Westrans Joins Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network

The Westrans Co. is now a member of the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN). Headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Westrans is a remanufacturer and supplier of parts for commercial trucks and trailers, passenger cars and trucks, agricultural equipment, and heavy-duty industrial equipment. Westrans also has branches in Regina, Saskatchewan and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Westrans — an HDA Truck Pride shareholder and a member of Heavy Duty Aftermarket Canada (HDAC) — is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

 

HDMA Forms Heavy Duty Tool & Equipment Council

The Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association has formed a new group, the Heavy Duty Tool & Equipment Council, to discuss trends and issues affecting manufacturers of tools and equipment used to service heavy duty vehicle applications. The council had its first meeting at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week and will hold one additional meeting this year in August in the Chicago area.

Founding companies and their primary representatives include John Iliff of American Forge & Foundry (founding chair), Jeff Steer of Goodall Manufacturing, Kirk Dawson of Rotary Lift and Chad Osier of Schumacher Electric. All four founding members currently comprise the council’s board of governors.

The council will be a select group of no more than 50 senior executives at its maturity from leading HDMA-member tool and equipment manufacturer companies. Council meetings will be closed to non-council members.

 

SEMA Schedules Virtual Career Fair For June 1

SEMA will host a Virtual Career Fair from noon to 5:00 pm (EDT) June 1 to help companies meet job seekers without incurring the transportation and overhead costs associated with on-site career fairs. The Virtual Career Fair equips employers to interact with job seekers in private chat rooms with the option to conduct video interviews. Employers also receive access to registered candidates’ information, including electronic resumes.

“Virtual recruitment events are gaining prominence and becoming the preferred college recruitment tool because of their low cost to participants and ease of use,” said SEMA’s manager of career services, Amelia Zwecher. “It allows job seekers to connect with many companies from a remote location and at a dedicated time.”

The Virtual Career Fair is billed as the next step in SEMA’s Career Paths initiative, as well as the association’s efforts to further develop the industry’s talent pipeline.

Early registration for the SEMA Virtual Career Fair ends April 28 and is $75 per employer (a $50 savings). For more information or to register, visit sema.org/virtualcareerfair.

 

Auto Care Association, University To Promote Industry Careers

The Auto Care Association is partnering with the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) in Lima, OH in an attempt to engage and attract college-aged students. Auto Care Careers staff is working with the university’s Career Services department to promote the auto care industry as a desirable career choice.

UNOH’s College of Applied Technologies will host its spring Career Tech Days May 17-18. Students from a variety of relevant majors will be present at all events, including automotive technology, automotive technology supervision, robotics and automation, and diesel technology.

Member participants are encouraged to promote the merits of their companies, interview students and fill open positions. There is no cost to attend. Members interested in participating in the UNOH career fair should contact Katy McQuiston at katy.mcquiston@autocare.org by May 1.

 

Auto Care Association Releases ‘China Market Report’

The Auto Care Association has released the first in a planned series of three reports on emerging international markets: the China Market Report. The study was done in collaboration with Solidiance, a business and growth strategy consultancy.

The China Market Report shows that, while China’s automotive industry has begun to slow in terms of new vehicle sales after over a decade of blistering growth, the parts and repair aftermarket continues to expand more significantly as a result of a larger and older automotive parc.

Additionally, strong vehicle growth over the last 10 years has created an increasingly sizeable and diverse light passenger vehicle parc, according to the study, which has now reached roughly 139 million vehicles.

“Right now, China is well into its ‘aftermarket era’ and will continue to close the gap with the U.S. market,” said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association. “To support this growth, the aftermarket structure and key players will also continue to change and explore new business models to more effectively compete.”

Presented in an online format, the China Market Report includes the following …
• A snapshot of China’s economy, investment environment, entry considerations and related issues;
• An assessment of China’s automotive parc in terms of size, vehicle composition, vehicle makes, age and future growth, including segmentations and new registration forecasts;
• A summary view of the total parts and service aftermarket, covering size, segmentation, parts types, age, growth and trends;
• A description of the maintenance and light repair service market, including services provided, repair frequency and pricing (Current and forecasted 2020 value by vehicle and service type also is provided);
• A description of the collision repair market, covering the insurance market, accident rates, service providers, repair types and costs, service value, and more (Current and forecasted 2020 value by vehicle type also is provided);
• A description of “general” major and minor repairs, covering the engine and other major overhauls, as well as minor “spot” repairs (Current and forecasted 2020 value by vehicle type also is provided);
• An evaluation of the parts distribution structure, describing the value chain at all levels (garage, distribution and parts suppliers), pricing characteristics, distributor types, and future dynamics; and
• A perspective on opportunities and challenges facing players in China’s automotive aftermarket over the forecast period with recommended strategic issues to consider.

Auto Care Association members can purchase copies for $2,100. The non-member price is $3,100. Click here to order or for more information.

 

United Recyclers Group Purchases IIS Inventory E-Commerce System

The United Recyclers Group (URG) has acquired the Inventory Insite System (IIS) and its partnership with BriscoWeb. Mooresville, NC-based BriscoWeb is a web design, development and marketing company focused on increasing online exposure for businesses.

The IIS inventory e-commerce system will be integrated with URG’s AutoPartSearch, providing recyclers with a wider selection of retail consumer procurement applications, according to Kristi Werner, URG’s director of business development. “URG’s goal is to continue to advance auto recyclers’ online sales through our marketplace,” Werner explained. “Partnering with BriscoWeb will also allow us to offer our members multiple SEO-friendly e-commerce solutions and provide us the ability to offer them custom-built websites.”

“URG’s acquisition of our IIS System will allow the opportunity to expand the product in both features and growth,” said Brian Holzberger, CEO for BriscoWeb. “We are happy to be working with URG to help achieve this goal as we share the same interests: providing great web solutions for the automotive recycling industry.”

 

VOXX In Deal To Buy Rosen Electronics Products

VOXX Electronics Corp. has entered into a definitive purchase agreement with AAMP of America to acquire all inventory and intellectual property, including patents and trademarks, of Rosen Electronics products. Rosen specializes in rear seat entertainment (RSE) systems. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition complements and expands VOXX’s position in the RSE market, as well as adds to its patent portfolio. VOXX will be moving all operations from AAMP’s Ontario, CA warehouse to VOXX’s facilities in Nevada, Virginia and Orlando.

 

Obituary: A.J. Amatuzio, Amsoil Founder

Synthetic lubrication innovator Al Amatuzio, founder of Amsoil Inc., died March 31. He was 92. Amatuzio served as president and CEO of the Superior, WI-based company until 2015 and retained his position as chairman of the board until the end.

Amatuzio pushed for the popularity of synthetic oil at a time when skeptics dismissed it as unnecessary, fake oil. “In fact, whether they know it or not, Amatuzio has affected the lives of nearly every driver in the world, for it was his vision that brought synthetic lubrication to the automotive market,” a company statement reads.

Born in Duluth, MN, Amatuzio’s entrepreneurial nature emerged while growing up in the Great Depression, according to Amsoil. He peddled newspapers, sold magazines, collected scrap iron and devised any number of ventures to help support his family. His real lifelong love, though, was flying.

Amatuzio attended Naval Air Corps training after graduating from high school. But, the program was closed before he got a chance to fly, so Amatuzio joined the Merchant Marines and served aboard the SS Fisk Victory during World War II.

After the war, Amatuzio joined the U.S. Air Force. But, when his mother became ill, he left the service to run the family owned Gitchinadji Supper Club.

Once home, Amatuzio joined the Duluth unit of the Air National Guard. He served 25 years as a fighter pilot and squadron commander. It was during this time that Amatuzio began developing his version of synthetic oil.

“Armed with the knowledge that every jet engine in the world could survive only with synthetic oil, he reasoned that the same performance benefits could be applied to the vehicles and equipment people depend on every day for work and fun,” the company statement reads.  “At the time, oil quality was poor and engines did not last long. Then-modern oils were susceptible to breakdown in high heat and contributed greatly to hard-starting in cold weather.”

In 1963, Amatuzio began a period of research and development. By 1966, he had formulated his first synthetic motor oil, and, throughout the 1960s, he continued development and sold synthetic oil under a variety of names. He founded Amsoil in 1972 and formed a dealer network to help educate the public about the new product.

“Amatuzio’s dealers were able to convey the benefits of synthetic lubricants much better than simple product labels, and the company grew exponentially,” according to Amsoil.

The company has since entered numerous international markets and added other products, including transmission fluid, fuel additives and filters. Amatuzio’s son, Alan, is now co-president.

In 1994, Amatuzio was inducted into the Lubricants World Hall of Fame. He was honored in 2005 with the Nachtman Award from the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association. In 2011, he was named Business Person of the Year by the University of Minnesota Duluth Labovitz School of Business and Economics.

Amatuzio was an active philanthropist. He bought K-9s for local police forces and helped establish the Northland Law Enforcement K-9 Foundation, according to his obituary in the Duluth News Tribune. He also made a sizable donation to the St. Louis County Historical Society to help create a research center chronicling local military service dating back to the Civil War.

 

NEW … Westin Automotive: Marketing Manager

We have an immediate opening for a Marketing Manager with a passion for the automotive industry and strong marketing skills who can keep Westin positioned as the market leader in the truck accessories product space. This role is an outstanding opportunity for someone who understands how today’s marketing trends work. You will use your 5+ years of experience … Click here to find out more.

Spectra Premium: Director of Sales — Retail

The role of the Director of Sales- Retail is to manage and supervise the overall sales and marketing aspects of selected National Accounts in the United States for select product lines and to the exclusion of any other lines, while constantly looking for ways to improve the overall profitability of those accounts and being measured upon sales results versus the established budget… Click here to find out more.

For Sale: Parts Distributor

Parts distributor with 2 desirable locations in high growth West Coast location in major metro market. Commercial and retail sales for import and domestic vehicles. Click here to find out more.

Sales Manager

Work alongside the marketing team to review market analyses to determine customer needs, price schedules, and discount rates. Directs sales agencies in territory development activity and coordinates sales distribution by establishing quotas and setting goals. Click here to find out more.

 

Dave Peace Rejoins UCI As New CEO For ASC/Airtex

Bannockburn, IL-based UCI International Holdings (UCI) — parent company to ASC water pumps, Airtex fuel pumps and Champion Labs filters — has announced the resignation of Brett McBrayer as the CEO of ASC/Airtex. He has been with Airtex/ASC since 2012.

McBrayer has more than 25 years of business and manufacturing experience, both in the United States and internationally. He came to Airtex/ASC from Rio Tinto Alcan, where he was vice president and general manager of the Alcan Cable business.

In McBrayer’s place, UCI’s board has appointed industry veteran Dave Peace, who is scheduled to take over as CEO of ASC and Airtex effective April 30. Peace is no stranger to UCI.

He most recently was the president and chief operating officer of the Wells Vehicle Electronics division of NGK Spark Plugs. He has run Wells since 2007, and led UCI’s sale to NGK in 2015. Prior to running Wells, Peace held senior executive leadership positions at Qualitor, Jordan Industries and Visteon Corp.

“I am thrilled that Dave Peace is rejoining UCI to lead both ASC and Airtex. He has a long and successful track record, not only at Wells, but in his entire professional career,” said Chairman Michael Klein. “I have personally known Dave for many years, and his professionalism, dedication to customers, and ability to build his team is second to none.

“I also want to thank Brett McBrayer for all of his efforts on behalf of ASC and Airtex, and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

 

Federal-Mogul Motorparts Makes Leadership Changes

Federal-Mogul Motorparts (Southfield, MI) has appointed Bryon Osterland as its vice president – global chassis and added Craig Frohock as its vice president – global sealing, engine and underhood service. Both report directly to Brad Norton, CEO of Federal-Mogul Motorparts and co-CEO of Federal-Mogul LLC.

Frohock joins Federal-Mogul Motorparts after a long career with Meritor Inc. going back to 1997. He has held a variety of positions since that time, including general manager – global trailer; vice president – aftermarket and trailer, North America; and vice president – aftermarket, North America, where he was responsible for Meritor’s aftermarket business in the commercial vehicle truck, trailer, specialty and bus, defense, and independent markets.

Osterland began his career with Federal-Mogul as an intern in 2002. Over the years, he has held a variety of positions, including general manager – chassis, Americas; director of purchasing and supply chain – engine hard parts; and general manager of global steering and suspension.

 

Redline Detection Hires Director Of Aftermarket Programs

Redline Detection (Orange, CA) has added Mike Hosch as its director of aftermarket programs. He comes to Redline after 17 years with Bosch North America, most recently as director of sales for the North American sales team and the Electronic Product Group. Hosch has been in the diagnostic tool aftermarket for 37 years, first with Sun Electric, then Snap-on, Vetronix, Bosch and now Redline.

 

R&R Marketing Consultants Adds Field Service Reps

R&R Marketing Consultants of Kansas City has added two new field service representatives: Jim Brenner and Jake Montoya. They share responsibilities in the Midwest.

Brenner joins R&R with over 20 years of aftermarket experience, including time with Champion Auto Stores, Pep Boys, Bumper to Bumper, Camping World and ACDelco. He has managed a speed shop and, for the last several years, was a commercial sales manager for AutoZone. Brenner has his ASE (P2) Automotive Parts Counterperson certification.

Montoya has been working in inside and outside sales with a local Line-X franchisee.

 

Amalie Oil Hires Central Regional Manager

Paul McCoy is the Amalie Oil Co.’s new U.S. central regional manager. He began his lubricants career in Kansas City 35 years ago as a sales representative for Pennzoil Motor Oil. Over 25-plus years with Pennzoil, Pennzoil-Quaker State and Shell Lubricants, McCoy held various positions, including sales rep, district manager and area sales manager. He has managed both distributor and direct company operations during his career.

 

People Watching 4/20/17

• McHenry, IL-based Brake Parts Inc. (BPI) has appointed Chip Hudson as its national police fleet manager, where he will lead BPI’s police fleet business, as well as expand the Raybestos Police friction line into the fire and ambulance markets.

Denso Products & Services Americas (Long Beach, CA) has named Norihito “Jack” Tanahashi as its senior vice president of original equipment supplier (OES) sales. As such, Tanahashi oversees sales of Denso OE products to all major automakers.

Karmak Inc. (Carlinville, IL), a provider of business management software for the commercial transportation industry, has named John Pacione as its new president and CEO. He is the former president and co-founder of a software company in the healthcare industry and a former vice president of development for Allscripts, another healthcare software company.

MEMA plans to recognize U.S. Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-MI) with its Joseph M. Magliochetti Industry Champion Award. It honors public officials who demonstrate extraordinary leadership on behalf of U.S. automotive and heavy-duty suppliers. MEMA will present Huizenga with the award May 18 at its Legislative Summit.

 

News Briefs 4/20/17

• President Donald Trump on April 18 visited Snap-on Inc. headquarters in Kenosha, WI. Trump touted the administration’s efforts to aid U.S. workers whose jobs are threatened by highly skilled immigrants as well as initiatives to ensure that government agencies purchase American-made products.

• The Automotive Distribution Network reports that Parts Plus has more than doubled its purchases in Mexico since 2015. Management expects “several” prospects to sign in the very near future.

Brake Parts Inc. (BPI) received the NAPA Partnership Award at the NAPA Vendor Summit held Feb. 23 in Atlanta.

• The paint protection film company XPEL has received an award from NASBITE International for its success as a U.S. exporter.

• Denver-based Gates Corp. has opened new regional headquarters facilities in Shanghai, China and in Singapore.

• Nominations are due May 31 for the annual SEMA News35 Under 35 competition. The program recognizes top-tier talent in the industry age 35 and younger. Click here for more information.

Luverne Truck Equipment (Brandon, SD) — a manufacturer of truck, SUV and work van accessories — has achieved platinum status with the SEMA Data Co-Op, the highest rating that can be achieved through the data management organization.

Holley Performance Products now offers electronic fuel injection (EFI) training at EFI University in Lake Havasu, AZ, where racers, engine builders, tuning shops and performance enthusiasts can receive the same software training offered at Holley’s headquarters in Bowling Green, KY.

Delphi Product & Service Solutions has launched a line of nearly 2,000 steering and suspension parts for North America, including control arms, tie rod ends, sway bar links and more.

Spectra Premium Industries (Boucherville, Quebec) is teaming up with Alex Tagliani in the 2017 NASCAR Pinty’s Series. Tagliani is the second professional driver, joining Spectra Premium ambassador Jean-François Dumoulin, to be racing in the Pinty’s series with Spectra’s NSCR100 high-performance radiator, which is engineered and manufactured in Canada.

Holmatro, which has provided trackside safety support to the IndyCar Series for over 20 years, is bringing its safety gear to the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. Holmatro is providing cutters and spreaders to the Toyota Tundra safety team responsible for all driver rescues during the series in 2017.

Optima Batteries is partnering with Team Lucas in 2017. For the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, Optima will sponsor a Fast Lap award for select classes and will be the “green flag” sponsor at each Lucas Oil Off Road regional event. In the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, Optima will be an event sponsor in addition to providing the “hard charger” cash award at each race. The company also will sponsor the “hard charger” award for the Lucas Oil Modified Series airing on MAVTV and LucasOilRacing.TV.

Fast Orange, a Permatex brand, will be the official hand cleaner of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series for 2017.

Roush Performance will be the 2017 title sponsor of Formula Drifter Justin “JTP” Pawlak.

AutomotiveTouchup — a provider of custom-matched automotive aerosol spray cans, touch-up bottles, pens and ready-to-spray paint — will be featured on the new season of Stacy David’s Gearz TV show. The company will be a “Parts Bin” segment sponsor and will be featured in other segments on the hot rod-building show.

The Enthusiast Network (TEN) is expanding the distribution of Motor Trend OnDemand to the United Kingdom and European markets.

AutoWerkz Media Limited has announced the international public launch of AutoWerkzTV and AutoWerkzTV Racing, both of which are available exclusively on the online global TV network, www.autowerkz.tv. AutoWerkzTV offers a range of automotive, motorcycle and motorsports programming.

 

Event & Trade Show Briefs 4/20/17

• The Automotive Distribution Network reports that its spring shareholders meeting, held April 3-5 in Detroit, included 28 round-table discussions and more than 300 one-on-one meetings between members and vendors.

• Lordco Parts, a large auto parts and accessories distributor and retailer based in British Columbia, hosted nearly 16,000 people at its 27th annual trade show held April 3-4 in Vancouver.

• The UAP Inc. 2017 NAPA XPO Sale will take place Sept. 12-13 at the Palais des Congres in Montreal. The exhibition area is expected to be nearly double that of last year. And, according to UAP, its official launch event for the NAPA XPO Sale, held April 13 in Montreal, drew 130 attendees, including more than 60 suppliers. Click here for more information about the September event.

• MEMA will sponsor a Bloomberg Government Policy Breakfast on tax reform and trade policy April 27 in Washington, DC. The event will be live-streamed on the Bloomberg and MEMA event website.

• Registration is now open for the University of the Aftermarket’s next Leadership 2.0 class. The first session will take place Aug. 6-11 on Northwood University’s campus in Midland, MI. The second session is scheduled for March 11-16, 2018 in Raleigh, NC. For more information, visit the university’s “Course Calendar” and look for Leadership 2.0.

• The last day to submit 2017 PRI Trade Show booth renewal applications and deposits is April 28. The event will take place Dec. 7-9 in Indianapolis. For more information, visit pri2017.com/exhibit.

HDA Truck Pride’s 2017 membership meeting — scheduled for May 3-6 at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando — will focus on engaging its supply chain partners and enabling its members to focus on continuous improvement and sustainable growth.

 

 

14 — April 13, 2017

 

Jefferies Evaluates Amazon’s Push For Cash-Paying Customers

A new Industry Note from Jefferies LLC reports that the “unbanked,” or cash-paying customers, now have a greater ability to purchase products on Amazon because of a new program the online behemoth launched last week called Amazon Cash.

According to Jefferies, the service allows customers to add funds to an existing Amazon account at participating convenience, grocery and drug stores by scanning a unique barcode at the point-of-sale terminal and then paying cash to add value to their account ($15 to $500 per transaction).

The importance here, in the opinion of Jefferies’ aftermarket analysts, is that the program provides an avenue for “unbanked” lower-income customers to shop at Amazon without a credit or debit card. And, Jefferies notes, households without checking or savings accounts are the primary cash-paying DIY customers in the automotive aftermarket, with a high correlation between advanced vehicle age and lower incomes.

While Amazon Cash eliminates a barrier to shopping online, Jefferies does not expect significant incremental automotive aftermarket volume to shift to Amazon.

“We estimate that nearly 40 percent of DIY transactions at aftermarket retailers are transacted in cash. Since DIY customers are largely motivated by savings, we expect some aftermarket cash transactions will shift to Amazon, where we found that the average discount to DIY retailer prices is 22 percent in a recent price study,” analysts Bret Jordan, David Kelley and Mark Jordan wrote in their note dated April 10.

“However, we do not expect the new strategy to drive significant incremental volumes online — we estimate that 20 percent of DIY volumes may migrate online — as the Amazon Cash program has relatively high friction in the purchase process (customers must first add cash to their account at participating retailers prior to purchasing online),” Jefferies’ report reads. “And, we believe most lower-income, cash-paying customers are not likely to pay a fee to become Amazon Prime members, thus reducing potential savings, as shipping costs will apply.

“Additionally, while we believe Amazon Cash will be attractive to some unbanked customers, it is not entirely ‘new,’ as cash-paying customers that desired to shop on Amazon could have done so prior to the Amazon Cash program by purchasing Amazon gift cards, requiring a similar process.”

 

AP Emissions Technologies, Centric Parts To Officially Combine

AP Emissions Technologies (Goldsboro, NC) and Centric Parts (City of Industry, CA) have announced an agreement to combine. The combined business will offer full-line exhaust, friction and brakes, and chassis products to traditional WDs, feeders, retailers, and performance and specialty channels. The transaction is expected to close within the next 45 to 60 days. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The businesses have had an affiliation for some time now. Back in 2015, Centric and AP announced high-level joint board appointments — a move meant to formalize existing cooperation between the companies and lead the way to future business growth for both.

The move came at a time when AP was looking to grow both organically and via acquisition in both the core emissions market as well as adjacent aftermarket segments. At the time, though, there was no evidence of a pending merger, and representatives from both companies declined to comment further on that possibility.

Now, they are coming together, and Hugh Charvat will lead the combined business as CEO. Dan Lelchuk, who co-founded Centric in 2000, will remain president of Centric. “This merger will help accelerate our growth by providing a true one-stop-shop experience for our customers,” Lelchuk said.

“This merger creates the opportunity for further acquisitions in the undercar aftermarket to provide a comprehensive and expanding product offering to the industry,” added Charvat.

Harvest Partners, a private equity firm with experience in the automotive aftermarket, will provide equity capital — in partnership with Audax Private Equity (an existing investor in both AP and Centric) and management — to fund the combination.

Jefferies LLC was financial advisor to AP, while Lazard and Angle Advisors were financial advisors to Centric. Kirkland & Ellis provided legal counsel to AP and Centric. White & Case was legal counsel to Harvest.

 

Truck Hero Gets A New Owner

Affiliates of CCMP Capital Advisors have entered into an agreement to acquire a controlling interest in Ann Arbor, MI-based Truck Hero, parent company to Extang, Truxedo, BedRug, UnderCover, A.R.E., Husky Liners, AutoCustoms, Real Truck and more. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

TA Associates, which currently holds a majority interest in Truck Hero, and Truck Hero’s founding CEO, Bill Reminder, and Chief Operating Officer Kelly Kneifl will remain “significant” investors in the company as part of the transaction. Reminder and Kneifl will retain their current leadership positions.

Under this new ownership, Truck Hero is expected to continue to pursue organic growth and add-on acquisitions.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017, subject to closing conditions. Ropes & Gray advised CCMP on the transaction. Jefferies LLC is providing the financing. Jefferies and J.P. Morgan are advisors to Truck Hero, while Goodwin is legal counsel.

CCMP specializes in middle-market buyouts and growth equity investments of $100 million to $500 million in North America and Europe. The firm invests in three primary industries: consumer/retail, industrial/chemicals and healthcare.

 

New CEO At U.S. Auto Parts Network

U.S. Auto Parts Network (Carson, CA) has a new CEO. Shane Evangelist, who has been the company’s chief executive and a director since 2007, has resigned. Aaron Coleman — who has been U.S. Auto Parts’ president since October 2016 and its chief operating officer since 2010 — is now the company’s CEO and a director, succeeding Evangelist.

No reason was given for Evangelist’s resignation. Coleman’s appointment as CEO is in keeping with the company’s succession plan.

Prior to becoming COO of U.S. Auto Parts, Coleman was the company’s executive vice president of operations and chief information officer. He has been with U.S. Auto Parts since 2008, having previously served as a senior vice president at Blockbuster.

Evangelist remains with U.S. Auto Parts under a transition consulting services agreement through May 1 to “assist with an orderly transition of his duties and responsibilities.”

In related news, Fred Harman has resigned from the company’s board directors. Harman has been a director for U.S. Auto Parts since 2006. He is a managing partner at Oak Investment Partners, a venture capital firm.

According to a March 31 company filing with the SEC, “there was no disagreement or dispute between the departing directors and the company that led to their decision(s) to resign.”

The board has approved a decrease in its size from nine directors to eight directors to accommodate Harman’s exit, as well as the resignation of Evangelist and selection of Coleman to fill the resulting vacancy.        — Marc Vincent

 

Perspective: Good Luck, We’re All Counting On You

Spring is a time for hope and renewal. Sitting in my office in northern Ohio, I’m hopeful warmer weather is coming … and soon. Over the last week, it’s been cool and rainy. Then, we were walloped with about five inches of heavy, wet snow. Yesterday, the temperature hit 80. Today, it’s back to cool and rainy.

The rollercoaster ride of the last seven days reflects the kind of conditions we’ve been experiencing in this part of the country for months now. This unusual weather has become the new normal for many of us in the Great Lakes and portions of the Northeast.

We are all well-aware of the gap in performance between these weather-impacted markets and other parts of the country. Last winter was relatively warm and uneventful. The hope was that a normal winter would happen this time around. Nope.

Now, we find ourselves hoping for a hot summer, thinking that might help right the ship. With another slew of quarterly reports about to be unleashed, expect to hear executives across the supply chain talk about weather and their belief that sales will pick up as the year progresses. Let’s hope that happens.

When it comes to renewal, I find my energy renewed and my thoughts turning more and more optimistic following the AASA Vision Conference held March 29-31 in Chicago. Events like this always leave me enthusiastic about our industry and the thoughtful, dedicated professionals who work in the aftermarket.

This year’s Vision program was especially thought-provoking. Since returning home, I’ve found that the events of any given day underscore discussions that took place at the conference.

As I’m writing this, the headline on Fox Business reads: “Pres Trump: We’re Going to Have Some Pleasant Surprises on NAFTA.” That brings to mind a presentation from Vision titled “The Trump Effect,” where the panel offered a big-picture view of current government policy and what we, as an industry, should expect.

Here are a few key points: The Trump administration has its eye on the auto parts industry, especially when it comes to the president’s goal of reshoring jobs from overseas. Ann Wilson, MEMA’s senior vice president of government affairs, addressed this new reality when she discussed a recent meeting top association leaders had with members of the Trump administration, noting that it was the first time in 30 years that a staffer had looked them in the eye and said: “You guys have to figure out a way to get jobs back here.”

Changes in U.S. trade policy will impact the aftermarket, and we need to be nimble to adapt to the shifting trade winds. The White House has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before it: major trade deals like NAFTA won’t be addressed again anytime soon.

Of course, there is the potential that these deals won’t be favorable to our industry. To me, there’s a greater potential that we’ll come out of these talks in a strong position. Autos and automotive products account for a sizeable portion of international trade, so it’s in the best interest of all parties to cut deals that get their economies humming. With more and more vehicles on the roads in seemingly every geography, it makes sense to do no harm to the companies that make the vehicles and to those that provide the parts to build, maintain and repair them. Like I said, I’m optimistic.

I’m especially optimistic about our industry representatives in Washington. Now is the time to get our story before key staffers at the White House, Department of Transportation, Department of Commerce, in Congress and more.

If the emphasis at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is to bring jobs back from overseas, that will mean changes. At this point, there’s no telling whether there will be a border adjustment tax and/or strong financial incentives for companies to bring jobs (and cash) back into the United States. Whatever eventually emanates from Washington will impact all levels of the auto care industry, with the potential to unleash a lot of funds that can be spent on improving domestic production, R&D, distribution and more … But, also the potential to drive up costs and squeeze already price-sensitive consumers.

I’m optimistic that key elements of these trade deals and regulatory changes being drawn up can benefit our industry. We need to be heard and to track what our industry groups are doing on the government and regulatory front. And, we must be responsive when they ask for our input and our assistance.

Along these lines, please give serious thought to attending the MEMA Legislative Summit taking place May 17-18, the Auto Care Association Legislative Summit scheduled for Oct. 3-4 or any other similar endeavors. Our representatives in Washington need your support, your input and your help.

We all need to go a few steps further than the doctor from Airplane!, popping into the cockpit from time to time offering no more than a little encouragement. “Good luck; we’re all counting on you” isn’t enough. Rather, they are all counting on us.

— Marc Vincent,
Editor

 

Alliance Member Tri-States Joins HDA Truck Pride

Tri-States Automotive Warehouse (Marianna, FL) is now a member of the HDA Truck Pride organization. Tri-States — which also is an Auto Value member of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance — is a third-generation family-owned and -operated business. It has two warehouses and 17 company stores, serving northwest Florida, southern Alabama and southern Georgia. In addition to the company stores, Tri-States supports 60 full-line Auto Value independent jobbers as well as 20 line-buying jobbers.

“By joining the HDA Truck Pride ranks, they will have access to our national brands, training and telematics, along with regional and national fleet programs,” explained Tom Tecklenberg, chief commercial officer. “Most importantly, they will be able to support customers in both the automotive and commercial vehicle markets with unparalleled aftermarket presence — a major objective of the recent formation of the Aftermarket Distributors Alliance in conjunction with the [Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance].”

 

The Alliance Adds Full Shareholder In Latin America

Distri Diesel of San Salvador, El Salvador is now an Auto Value member of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance. Distri Diesel, founded in 2013, is the headquarters for a group of companies — Turbo Diesel, Caribe Diesel and Distiribudora Coldiesel — all operating out of Medellin, Colombia. Distri Diesel’s customer base includes the largest transportation leasing company in Central America, with a fleet of over 15,000 vehicles.

 

Synchrony Financial Replaces Longstanding CarCareONE Program

From Service Executive …

Stamford, CT-based Synchrony Financial has revamped and rebranded its longstanding vehicle care credit card program. The new Synchrony Car Care credit card offers motorists the convenience of one card to pay for vehicle care at thousands of service and parts locations, as well as to pay for fuel at gas stations nationwide.

It replaces the CarCareONE card, which has provided financing to millions of consumers across a wide network of aftermarket parts and service outlets for more than three decades.

The new program builds on the same core value proposition of special financing for purchases of $199 or more. It has expanded to provide drivers with a dedicated payment option for everyday gas purchases and a wider acceptance network for automotive expenses, including online retailers.

Synchrony has worked with the Discover Global Network — billed as the third-largest payments network in the world — to provide greater acceptance within the fuel segment. As a result, in addition to acceptance at thousands of merchants in the Synchrony Car Care network, the new card can be used for purchases at gas stations that accept Discover.

Additionally, an updated app allows users to locate nearby network partners, as well as track their expenses, manage their accounts, and access offers via their mobile devices.

“The Synchrony Car Care card is an important financial resource for drivers to maintain or improve their vehicles and manage their family’s auto spending needs with one, convenient payment method,” said Glenn Marino, executive vice president and CEO of payment solutions for Synchrony. “Consumer and merchant input has been vital in enhancing this market-leading program in ways that provide greater value and flexibility to both car owners and service providers.”

According to Synchrony’s research into tire and wheel, vehicle service, and auto parts cardholders …
• 33 percent would not have made a major purchase ($500 or more) — or would have gone to another retailer — if financing were not available;
• More than 70 percent of automotive cardholders said they “always” seek promotional financing when making a major purchase; and
• 88 percent said promotional financing made their large purchases more affordable.

There are nearly 3 million existing Synchrony Car Care cardholders nationwide, according to the company. From independent auto specialists to full-service chains, businesses in the Synchrony Car Care network span over 25,000 service and parts locations throughout the United States (including Puerto Rico). And, there are more than 185,000 eligible fuel stations nationwide.

 

The AAM Group Picks GCommerce To Implement EDI

The Automotive Accessories Marketing Group (The AAM Group) has tapped Des Moines, IA-based GCommerce Inc. to handle all electronic connectivity between its members and their suppliers. Therefore, The AAM Group will be including electronic document exchange (EDI) participation in its supplier score card.

GCommerce will communicate with AAM Group suppliers, and will facilitate the onboarding, mapping, testing, and implementation of electronic documents, including purchase orders, acknowledgements, shipping notifications, and invoices. GCommerce states that its architecture allows suppliers to communicate with all AAM Group members — regardless of their technology platforms, document formats or IT protocols — through a single integration.

The AAM Group’s digital tools include B2B purchasing technology, digital cataloging, data coaching, website development and mobile apps.

 

Fast Undercar Implementing Epicor Vision Software

Fast Undercar (Ventura, CA), a wholesale distributor of aftermarket undercar parts, is implementing the Vision technology from Epicor Software Corp. Vision is an enterprise system that includes customer relationship management (CRM) tools, hosting capability, pricing and inventory controls, “central services” functionality, integrated accounting, and more. Fast Undercar’s network includes 35 warehouses — 27 of which are independently owned — in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The company been using Epicor’s Prism software since 1999.

 

Parts Plus WD Moving To DMS DX+ Cloud System

Wahlberg-McCreary, a two- and three-step Parts Plus WD in the Houston market, is moving its business operations to the DX+ cloud-based warehouse management system from DMS Systems. The technology includes Command Center, a real-time business intelligence dashboard for all its operations; the Qwik-Order business-to-business e-commerce application for its customers; and the Qwik-Track delivery and signature capture module to modernize its customer delivery operations, as well as increase the accuracy and efficiency of its back-office operations.

 

Race Winning Brands Buys Diamond Pistons, Trend Performance

Mentor, OH-based Race Winning Brands (RWB), a new portfolio company of Kinderhook Industries, has acquired Diamond Pistons and Trend Performance. Financial terms of the transactions were not disclosed.

Based in Clinton, MI, Diamond Pistons is a manufacturer of premium high-performance automotive pistons, serving a variety of customers across the professional racing and enthusiast markets. Trend Performance in Warren, MI is a manufacturer of high-performance internal engine components, including pushrods and wrist pins.

The acquisition of the Diamond Pistons and Trend Performance brands represents the first add-on deal for RWB, and Kinderhook’s 45th automotive-related transaction.

RWB is a manufacturer of performance and racing pistons and related engine components for the automotive and powersports performance markets. The company markets its products through a number of brands, including JE Pistons, Wiseco Performance Products, K1 Technologies, Innovate Motorsports and ProX Racing Parts.

The acquisition of Diamond Pistons and Trend Performance reflects RWB’s goal to grow both organically and through acquisitions. The company is investing in brand development and new product innovation, while also evaluating opportunities to expand into adjacent and new product categories.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP was legal counsel to RWB.

 

Babcox Enters The Dealership Market Via AutoSuccess Purchase

Babcox Media has acquired AutoSuccess magazine and its digital properties, giving the Akron, OH-based publisher a dealership-oriented brand to go alongside its mainly aftermarket-focused titles.

Based in Louisville, KY and founded in 2001, AutoSuccess magazine is delivered monthly to over 22,500 new car and light-truck dealerships in the United States and Canada, according to Babcox. The publication is geared toward dealer principals, general managers, and department and service managers. It is focused on providing information to “help dealerships increase efficiency and profitability.”

In addition to the magazine, the AutoSuccess brand includes various digital properties, including Autosuccessonline.com, webinars, podcasts and e-newsletters. Publisher Susan Givens and Editor Dave Davis will continue in their current roles, as will other AutoSuccess personnel, according to Babcox.

Founded in 1920, Babcox Media is the producer of a number of longstanding aftermarket titles, including Counterman, Brake & Front End, ImportCar, Underhood Service, Tire Review, Engine Builder and BodyShop Business, to name a few.

 

Auto Care Internship Scholarship Applications Due May 1

Applications for the Auto Care Careers Internship Scholarship program are due May 1. The scholarships — 22 of them valued as much as $2,500 each — provide financial support for students who have secured internships in the auto care industry.

They are intended for people enrolled in internship programs with direct application to the auto care industry, and working in such fields as engineering, supply chain management, information technology, finance, sales, and marketing, to name a few.

The idea is to help ease the financial burden of temporary relocation for interns traveling more than 100 miles from their permanent addresses to their internships, including the costs of travel, lodging, utilities and meals during the internship period. Click here for more information on the scholarships.

 

YANG Announces 2017 Next Step Program Scholarship Winners

The Young Auto Care Network Group (YANG) has announced the 2017 Auto Care Association Next Step Program honorees: 11 young industry professionals who will receive $1,100 scholarships to attend the Auto Care Association’s Spring Leadership Days May 3-5 in San Antonio. The 2017 recipients are …
Erin Anderson of BBB Industries;
Hunter Brack of Hirsig-Frazier Co.;
Isabel Burton of The NPD Group;
Kyle Ryan Byrne of Arnold Motor Supply;
Chris Castillo of tascosalesreps;
Jonny Dykstra of the Auto-Wares Group of Companies;
Mario Garza of XL Parts;
Angela Golden of NGK Spark Plugs;
Charlotte Grimmett of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance;
Sam Pennington of Valvoline; and
Nolan Sponseller of Best One Tire of Upland.

The Next Step Program offers future auto care industry leaders opportunities to experience how the association and various aspects of the industry work. Scholarships are made possible by the support of AWDA, the Manufacturers’ Representatives Council and YANG.

 

Pressure Systems International Purchases TPMS Provider

San Antonio-based Pressure Systems International (PSI) has acquired Truck System Technologies (TST), a provider of tire pressure monitoring (TPMS) and mobile asset management systems (MAMS) technology. The TST product line includes telematics and tracking technology designed to give fleet management teams the ability to locate assets and track inputs of their choosing. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We see the TST acquisition as a perfect complement to our automatic tire inflation systems,” said Tim Musgrave, the president and CEO of PSI. “The ability for our customers to customize their tire management solutions from a single systems provider is increasingly important with the pending Greenhouse Gas Phase 2 trailer regulations becoming effective January 2018.”

TST already has a position in the RV market, which management intends to build on as TST expands into the commercial vehicle segment. PSI’s leadership views both the recreational and commercial vehicle markets as strategic, and intends to create separate teams to focus on both markets.

 

XPEL Buys Dallas Paint Protection/Window Film Installer

San Antonio-based XPEL Technologies Corp. — a supplier of automotive paint, headlamp and window protection films — has acquired Stratashield LLC, a provider of installation services for automotive paint protection and window film in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The acquisition gives XPEL a presence in a growing market and is in keeping with management’s “Get Close to the Customer” strategy.

 

AAM Completes Metaldyne Performance Group Acquisition

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings (AAM) has completed its acquisition of the Metaldyne Performance Group (MPG). Upon completion of the transaction, MPG became a wholly owned subsidiary of AAM. And, MPG shares have ceased trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

As previously announced, David Dauch remains chairman and CEO. AAM’s board of directors is being expanded to include three designees of American Securities LLC: George Thanopoulos (MPG’s chief executive prior to the acquisition), along with former MPG board members Kevin Penn and Loren Easton.

Reporting to Dauch are the following executives …
Michael Simonte, president;
Timothy Bowes, senior vice president of strategy and business development;
Christopher May, vice president and CFO;
Terri Kemp, vice president of human resources; and
David Barnes, vice president and general counsel.

AAM will operate four business units with the following executives reporting to Simonte …
Alberto Satine, driveline business unit president;
Norman Willemse, metal forming business unit president;
Greg Deveson, who is joining AAM as powertrain business unit president; and
Todd Heavin, casting business unit president.

 

BorgWarner Invests In Autotech Ventures, Gains Access To Global Startups

Auburn Hills, MI-based BorgWarner has invested $10 million in Autotech Ventures, a venture capital fund that facilitates partnerships among financial investors, strategic corporate investors and startups focused on the future of transportation.

Through this investment, BorgWarner’s chief strategy officer, Brady Ericson, sees opportunities in propulsion technology as well as mobility areas outside of BorgWarner’s current product portfolio. “While we remain focused on providing industry-leading propulsion technologies, we expect this partnership to provide global access to new technologies and services inside and outside of our core product strengths,” Ericson explained.

Through its investment in Autotech Ventures, BorgWarner is able to review hundreds of global startups involved in the future of ground transportation. In addition to the companies BorgWarner expects to invest in with Autotech Ventures, management expects the company to independently invest in, collaborate with and support a handful of start-up businesses.

Ericson sees a range of opportunities for BorgWarner when working with these start-ups, including being a supplier, partner, buyer or investor. “Industry priorities continue to change,” said Ericson. “To be successful, we need to keep our fingers on the pulse of product trends and collaborate with innovative players across the world.”

 

A123 Systems To Build New HQ Complex In Michigan

A123 Systems LLC, a developer and manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries and systems, has announced plans to build a new headquarters complex in Novi, MI, representing a $40-million investment.

The 32-acre company-owned site will house all corporate functions, an engineering center, new laboratory space and a manufacturing plant. The new, 150,000-square-foot campus will replace A123’s leased space in Livonia and Romulus, MI. The campus also allows for future expansion.

“This new complex meets future needs by becoming our epicenter of engineering,” said CEO Jason Forcier. “It will allow us to grow our engineering workforce and bring testing inside that has previously been done outside the company. In addition to our corporate staff and our engineering group, we will maintain manufacturing capability for systems assembly to meet the demands of the U.S. marketplace as they continue to evolve.”

Management expects construction to begin in the third quarter and the company to begin to move into the new complex by the end of 2018.

 

New President For Delphi Product & Service Solutions

Alex Ashmore is the new president of Delphi Product & Service Solutions (DPSS), replacing Keith Stipp, who returned to the OE side of the business as vice president, global customer champion. Stipp has been the acting president of DPSS since 2015.

Ashmore brings over 20 years of aftermarket experience to the position. He led TRW’s aftermarket business in the Asia-Pacific region and was chairman of MEMA’s China Aftermarket Forum. His background also includes time as TRW’s vice president and general manager – parts and service, global, as well as leading TRW’s friction manufacturing business.

 

Wells Vehicle Electronics Appoints President/COO

Former Autolite Spark Plug president Mike Mizusawa is now the president and chief operating officer of Wells Vehicle Electronics (WVE). He had been WVE’s senior vice president of operations, responsible for managing and overseeing the company’s manufacturing facility in Fond Du Lac, WI. In his new role, Mizusawa is now responsible for the day-to-day operations of WVE, including product development, manufacturing operations and distribution.

 

HDA Truck Pride Announces Realignment

HDA Truck Pride (HDATP) has realigned its organizational structure. Effective immediately …
Tom Tecklenberg, chief commercial officer, will drive process improvement through the implementation of Six Sigma techniques and tools. Additionally, he will lead the business development team.
Tina Alread has been promoted to vice president of marketing and communications, where she manages communication throughout the supply chain. In addition, Alread retains responsibility for the national fleet program and telematics.
• Reporting to Alread is Kristen Phipps, director of marketing, whose focus is the website, CRM, branding and media relations.
• Also reporting to Alread is Nikki Paschall, who has been promoted to marketing programs manager. Paschall is now responsible for HDATP University, and also leads the young executives initiative (DRIVE), executes the PIP and Truck Service Experts programs, and oversees all meeting planning.
Bill Burns continues to report to President and CEO Don Reimondo in his current chief operating officer role, leading the IT and product category management initiatives.

 

New H-D National Sales Manager For JS Products/Backshop Solutions

Las Vegas-based JS Products has named Jody Barry as the heavy duty national sales manager for the company’s Backshop Solutions team. Barry is responsible for sales and marketing for regional and national accounts, as well as product support, training, and attending trade shows throughout the United States. His office is in the Atlanta area.

Barry brings over 25 years of automotive tool and equipment industry experience to the position, most recently with American Forge & Foundry, where he was a sales manager.

JS Products develops, makes, markets, and distributes specialty tools, equipment, and supplies to the professional automotive and industrial markets.

 

CRP Automotive Adds Product Manager For Rein Automotive

CRP Automotive (Cranbury, NJ) has hired Joseph Hanson as product manager for Rein Automotive brand hoses, anti-vibration parts, suspension parts and A/C parts. He is responsible for the growth of Rein Automotive through new product introductions and major marketing initiatives.

Most recently, Hanson was the director of product management at Sonnax Industries. Before that, he was the director of product management at Dorman Products for the window regulator and door lock actuator categories.

 

TI Automotive Hires Thermal Products VP

TI Automotive has named Andy Ridgway as its vice president of thermal products. As such, he directs all activities related to TI Automotive’s global thermal products group, which includes heating and cooling technology for the vehicle engine, powertrain, battery, and passenger cabin systems. Ridgway came to TI Automotive from IAV, where he was chief executive for the Americas. He also has held management positions with Nissan, General Motors, Guardian Automotive and Valeo.

 

NEW … Spectra Premium: Director of Sales — Retail

The role of the Director of Sales- Retail is to manage and supervise the overall sales and marketing aspects of selected National Accounts in the United States for select product lines and to the exclusion of any other lines, while constantly looking for ways to improve the overall profitability of those accounts and being measured upon sales results versus the established budget… Click here to find out more.

NEW … For Sale: Parts Distributor

Parts distributor with 2 desirable locations in high growth West Coast location in major metro market. Commercial and retail sales for import and domestic vehicles. Click here to find out more.

NEW … Sales Manager

Work alongside the marketing team to review market analyses to determine customer needs, price schedules, and discount rates. Directs sales agencies in territory development activity and coordinates sales distribution by establishing quotas and setting goals. Click here to find out more.

 

Phillips Industries Hires Marketing Director

Phillips Industries (Santa Fe Springs, CA) has hired David Diaz as its director of marketing. His background includes time in creative and marketing positions at various agencies.

In his new position, Diaz directs all marketing efforts for current Phillips products. He also helps with the roll out of Phillips Connect Technologies, which focuses on connecting intelligent vehicles and delivering information about their trailers.

 

Bergstrom Promotes Two In Sales, Product Development

Bergstrom Inc., a supplier of climate systems to the commercial vehicle industry, has promoted Joe Kirby to director of fleet sales and market intelligence and George Lamoureux to director of new and advance product introduction.

Kirby, a 35-year veteran of the commercial vehicle business, has been with Bergstrom since 2010, where he has been general manager ­– aftermarket, among other roles. His background also includes time in sales, marketing and product development at Caterpillar, Mack Trucks, Meritor and Webasto.

Lamoureux, who has been with Bergstrom for 21 years, now coordinates projects through the product development process, leads product development teams, and assists in new product development through benchmark studies, market surveys, industry data and direct customer contact.

 

Automotive Hall Of Fame Announces 2017 Inductees

Alberto Bombassei, the president of Brembo, will be among the 2017 inductees into the Automotive Hall of Fame July 20 at the Cobo Center in Detroit. Bombassei played a key role in Brembo’s growth from a small family firm in Italy into a worldwide automotive braking systems company. Alberto’s father, Emilio Bombassei, and his uncle, Italo Breda, founded Brembo. And, Alberto Bombassei served in various roles with the company from its inception onward.

Also being inducted will be motorsports legend and automotive entrepreneur Jack Roush. As a race team owner, Roush has won championships at the NASCAR, NHRA and IHRA levels, to name a few. His teams have won over 400 races in total. In addition, Roush is the chairman of Roush Enterprises, parent company to product development supplier Roush, aftermarket performance products supplier Roush Performance Products and alternative fuel systems manufacturer Roush CleanTech.

The 2017 class also will include the late August Fruehauf, founder of the Fruehauf Trailer Co., who is credited with inventing the semi-trailer, and Edward Welburn, a former head of design for General Motors and the first person to lead the division on a global level. Welburn also holds the distinction of having been the highest-ranking African American in the global automotive industry.

 

People Watching 4/13/17

• The MAM Software Group has amended its employment agreement with CEO Michael Jamieson to a fixed three-year term, effective upon Jamieson’s relocation from the United Kingdom to the United States. It also changes Jamieson’s reporting location to Blue Bell, PA. The agreement was effective April 1.

• Phillips Industries (Santa Fe Springs, CA) has hired Jeff McKeown as its OEM trailer and technical sales manager, a new position with the company. Ron Alvarez, director of global OEM/OES truck, continues to be responsible for sales activities serving the OEM truck, specialty vehicle, OES and international markets.

Women in Automotive (WIA) has named sales and brand strategist Lisa Copeland as its brand ambassador and added her to its board of directors. As such, Copeland will represent the organization at national conferences and serve as an informational resource for WIA’s Women Powered University. She is the CEO of Lisa Copeland Global Enterprises.

 

Rep News 4/13/17

Design Engineering Inc. (DEI) has retained nine new manufacturer representative agencies to rep Boom Mat in the 12-volt market. They are: N-Motion Marketing (North Carolina, South Carolina, northern Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee); the Integrity Marketing Group (Florida and southern Georgia); Air & Associates (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island); BEI Inc. (Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, southern Idaho); Seymour Marketing (upstate New York); WMD Marketing (northern California); Advance Marketing (Oregon, Washington, Alaska, northern Idaho and western Canada); the Spectrum Marketing Group (Michigan); and Southwest Sales & Marketing (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana).

Champion Oil has announced Pacific Marketing (Tustin, CA) as its rep agency for the western United States (California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii).

• National Pronto Association member XL Parts of Houston has honored longtime Centric Parts sales rep and Casbey Co. principle Brian Krause with its 2016 Representative of the Year Award.

 

News Briefs 4/13/17

XL Parts has selected Motorcar Parts of America as its 2016 Vendor of the Year. Houston-based XL Parts is a member of the National Pronto Association.

• XL Parts has recognized Centric Parts with its 2016 Partnership Award.

NAPA recognized Mevotech for leadership and excellence in innovation at its annual vendor summit in Atlanta. Mevotech became a NAPA vendor in 2016. This is the first award the company has received from NAPA.

Stant Corp. has received an On-Time Supplier award from GM Customer Care & Aftersales.

• The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is partnering with the Car Care Council during National Car Care Month. TIA is working on a social media campaign to highlight tire safety and to provide educational tips throughout April.

• The Automotive Service Association (ASA) is supporting National Car Care Month and the “Be Car Care Aware” public service campaign of the Car Care Council. ASA’s support of the program includes distributing information in its publications and online media outlets, as well as encouraging its affiliated organizations to promote the campaign in member-shops across the nation.

ASE has joined other organizations in the industry in recognizing April as National Car Care Month.

Turn 14 Distribution now carries products from nGauge.

The AAM Group (Piney Flats, TN) has created quick-start guides for Facebook Business, Google My Business and Instagram. The articles — which walk users through the process of creating their own social media presence across the aforementioned platforms — can be found under the “resources” tab on each of The AAM Group’s program websites: PartsPro.com, PerformanceCorner.com and TotalTruckCenters.com.

PACCAR Parts has recognized Webb Wheel Products as its 2016 Supplier of the Year for North America. Through PACCAR Parts, Webb Wheel supplies Kenworth, Peterbilt and TRP retail customers with TRP all-makes brake drums as well as Webb Wheel OE brake drums for trucks, trailers and buses.

• Engine Pro has introduced a line of diesel performance engine parts: camshafts and valves for Ford Powerstroke, GM Duramax and Dodge Cummins engines. The diesel performance valves carry the Nitro Black label, which is the designation Engine Pro reserved for its premium, high-end performance products.

• The SEMA Data Co-op now includes a feature to deliver manufacturer data directly to Advance Auto Parts in the Basic Item Set-up Sheet (BISS) and Product Information Load Sheet (PILS) formats, according to SEMA eNews.

Federal-Mogul Motorparts has introduced a line of genuine Jurid replacement brake pads for German nameplate vehicles. Jurid, a widely known brand in Europe, is now being made available to North American replacement parts distributors.

Denso Products & Services Americas has launched a TV commercial for its line of Iridium spark plugs featuring Pro Stock World Champion Jason Line.

• Cleveland-based UCX Calipers is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The company is a disc brake caliper remanufacturer serving the automotive aftermarket.

Aries Automotive has launched a new Team Aries website that includes a unique page for all current Team Aries Pro Builders, including video profiles of their vehicle builds as well as images of the vehicles in action.

• Dana has launched a new Facebook page for its Victor Reinz sealing product line.

 

Event & Trade Show Briefs 4/13/17

• The next University of the Aftermarket “Aftermarket 101” will be held in a larger venue: the Hilton Garden Inn Detroit Southfield hotel in Southfield, MI. It will take place May 16-17. Registration is still available. Click here for more information.

Online attendee registration for AAPEX 2017 is now open. AAPEX will take place Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas.

• The Golden Nugget, Palms, The Cromwell and W Las Vegas have been added to the hotels available through the SEMA Show’s official housing provider, OnPeak. Click here for more information on travel and lodging for the show.

• The Women in Auto Care Summer Leadership Conference will be held July 19-20 at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University. The event’s theme is leadership, with two sessions focusing on communication and creating presence. The conference is open to all professionals in the auto care industry. Online registration will be available in late April, along with a detailed agenda.

• The Auto Care Association will host a free webinar April 25 on business opportunities in the Honduran automotive industry. It will include a country profile, market information and best prospects. Participants also can learn about U.S. Commercial Service in-country support, as well as the association’s trade missions to Central America: Honduras on Sept. 26 and Nicaragua on Sept. 28. Click here to register for the webinar, which is open to Auto Care Association members and non-members.

 

 

13 — March 30, 2017

 

No Issue Next Week!

We will not be publishing next week. Our offices will be closed April 3 through April 7, reopening on Monday, April 10, with the next issue of The Greensheet dated April 13.

 

MEMA Meets With Trump’s Economic Team

MEMA representatives met Friday with White House senior staff members of the National Economic Council (NEC) to share members’ views on trade, taxes and regulatory reforms. It was the association’s first meeting with Trump administration officials.

The meeting was productive and an important opportunity to establish a working relationship with the new  administration, said Bill Long, executive vice president of government affairs for MEMA, as well as AASA’s president and chief operating officer. “We felt that they were eager to learn about our industry and to have our input.”

During the meeting, MEMA’s team sought a better understanding of the timing and process for possible review of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The meeting also addressed the need for corporate tax reform, support for U.S. manufacturing jobs and the potential impact of a proposed Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) on the motor vehicle supplier industry.

For the association, the hope is that this was the first of many such conversations with Trump administration officials.

MEMA and its four specialized divisions recently announced they are aligned with the goals of the administration and Congress to strengthen U.S. global manufacturing competitiveness and to create more American jobs. To reach these goals, MEMA has stated that it supports “a simplified, more predictable tax code that would generate investment, economic growth and job creation in the United States.”

The MEMA team stressed the role motor vehicle parts suppliers play in the national economy through job creation and investment growth.

“For this reason, our participation in discussions like this regarding free trade agreements and tax reform is critical,” MEMA president and CEO Steve Handschuh said in a statement.

The motor vehicle component manufacturing industry in the United States has experienced robust growth because of increased demand and vehicle sales. The stability and integration of the North American supply chain has been particularly beneficial to suppliers, according to the association, contributing to growth in jobs and investments in the United States.

In addition to Long, Ann Wilson (MEMA’s senior vice president of government affairs) and Tom Lehner (MEMA’s vice president of public policy) also attended the meeting.

 

CAWA Meets With State Reps To Discuss Warranty Rights/Telematics

CAWA plans to pursue a partnership with California’s Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) to educate the public about warranty rights. The plan resulted from a recent meeting between the association’s legislative team and BAR to discuss industry concerns about the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act and telematics.

The BAR team seemed “very interested” in working collectively on an educational program, CAWA president and CEO Rodney Pierini said. “Now, it’s a question of follow-up with them.”

CAWA’s goal is to make sure vehicle owners in the state know that they won’t void their warranties by choosing a non-dealership option for service and parts, he said.

Also, as a result of the meeting, Aaron Lowe of the Auto Care Association will make a presentation to the BAR Advisory Group on April 20 regarding telematics. Lowe, the senior vice president of regulatory and government affairs for the association, plans to discuss the industry’s role when it comes to telematics and the regulatory issues that could result.

Lowe said he’s encouraged by the meeting opportunity, his first with the group. “This is great for both the industry and BAR,” Lowe said. “We can learn more about what they’re up to and how we can help.”

 

Hopkins Manufacturing Buys AirPower America

Hopkins Manufacturing Corp. (Emporia, KS) has acquired certain assets of Kristus Inc./AirPower America, whose product offering includes MaxAir air pumps and the TopSider and LiquiVac oil change and extractor systems. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The AirPower product line will be added to Hopkins’ FloTool branded fluid management product offering. “AirPower’s unique designs will be a great addition for Hopkins, capitalizing on a growing trend where extractors are required to remove oil from newer vehicles,” said Bradley Kraft, president and CEO of Hopkins.

Hopkins plans to transfer the production and distribution of the AirPower line to its Miami, OK manufacturing facility, where it produces Rhino drive-up ramps, Super Duty oil drains, and various funnels and other products.

Hopkins has North American manufacturing and distribution in Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa and California, as well as Blenheim, Ontario and Juarez, Mexico.

 

APA Recognizes Top Suppliers

At its recently held annual conference, Automotive Parts Associates (APA) recognized suppliers for providing exceptional goods, services and support to APA’s shareholders over the past year. The Headquarters Manufacturer of Choice Award went to SKF for fast turnaround time from application of part to product availability, for ease of doing business, and for responsiveness to member and APA headquarters needs.

Federal-Mogul received the Marketing Partner Award for supporting and sponsoring APA initiatives and promotions. The Professionals’ Choice Vendor of the Year is Recochem for its product categories and cataloging.

FCS won Approved Vendor of the Year, while DEA won Preferred Vendor of the Year. These awards were voted on by APA shareholders, with fill, service and product quality taken into consideration.

The Cornerstone Award went to KYB for its role in the growth and success of APA. Centric Parts took home the award for Outstanding IT Initiatives Partner for supporting APA and its shareholders with IT-related initiatives.

 

Auto Body Jobbers Warehouse Buys CRC Line

Auto Body Jobbers Warehouse (ABJ) of Paterson, NJ, has purchased CRC Line Inc. Financial details were unavailable.

CRC, a wholesaler of auto parts and paint in Worcester, MA, celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. Customers will begin ordering from ABJ, which specializes in East Coast deliveries, April 3.

The purchase will add more than twice as many lines from which CRC customers can choose.

 

MPA Ups Share Repurchase Program, Will Continue Pursuing Acquisitions

The Motorcar Parts of America (MPA) board of directors has increased the authorization under the company’s share repurchase program to $15 million. This allows Torrance, CA-based MPA to repurchase outstanding common stock from time to time in the open market and in private transactions at prices deemed appropriate by management.

MPA’s previous share repurchase program was limited to $10 million. The company had roughly 18.70 million shares outstanding as of March 27.

“This share repurchase program is consistent with our commitment to increase shareholder value,” said Chairman, President and CEO Selwyn Joffe in a statement. “We will continue to pursue initiatives such as complementary acquisitions and other related activities to further the company’s sales and earnings growth potential.”

 

HDA Truck Pride Adds Trux Accessories Program

HDA Truck Pride has announced a new program with Trux Accessories, a manufacturer of aftermarket parts targeting the heavy-duty truck industry. HDA Truck Pride members will have access to the breadth of Trux Accessories’ program, including chrome accessories, LED lighting, fenders, exhaust, wheel accessories and more.

 

XPEL, 3M Settle Patent Infringement Lawsuit

The 3M Co. and XPEL Technologies Corp., a supplier of automotive paint protection and window protection films, have settled a patent infringement lawsuit, according to an announcement dated March 23.

3M sued XPEL in late 2015 claiming that XPEL infringed on a 3M patent for a multi-layer paint protection film. The suit involved a product called XPF Paint Protection Film sold through various dealers. The patent in question, awarded to 3M in 2014, covers a three-layer film with a polyurethane (polyester and/or polycarbonate-based) first layer, a polycaprolactone-based thermoplastic polyurethane second layer, and a PSA layer with a pressure-sensitive adhesive.

San Antonio-based XPEL, back in 2016, denied 3M’s claims, questioned the validity of the patent, and vowed to “vigorously defend itself,” according to a company statement at the time. The suit, which sought an end to sales and an unspecified monetary judgment, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

Under terms of the settlement, XPEL will acquire a license to the patent, and 3M and XPEL have agreed to dismiss the lawsuit without prejudice.

“I am pleased we have been able to resolve this matter and look forward to continuing to deliver high-quality products and services to our customers,” said XPEL CEO Ryan Pape in a statement dated March 23.

 

Mixed Results For Florida Pneumatic’s Automotive Sales

The Florida Pneumatic division of P&F Industries (Melville, NY) saw its automotive revenue decrease 12 percent to $3.24 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 due, in part, to two major customers/distributors putting in place an internal inventory reduction plan during the quarter. For the full year, Florida Pneumatic’s automotive revenue rose 13.8 percent to $14.58 million, attributable to growth from the Aircat air tools line. This came from new and improved tools, as well as an expanded customer base, according to management.

 

Irish Aftermarket Buying Group Renews Partnership With MAM

Irish aftermarket buying group FG7 has renewed its partnership with MAM Software to provide group members and the central FG7 warehouse with software and support. Seventeen out of 20 of FG7’s members use MAM’s Autopart business management software to manage their operations.

The technology also is employed at the central FG7 warehouse, alongside MAM’s Warehouse Management Software. This allows members to check stock and place orders directly from within their point-of-sale system.

MAM also is rolling out Origin WebTrade, its business-to-business trading portal, to a number of FG7 members. The e-commerce technology integrates with members’ Autopart systems to allow them to trade electronically with their garage customers.

 

AAPEX 2016 Survey Results Unveiled

95 percent of those who attended AAPEX 2016 gave it a positive score and recommendation in post-show attendee satisfaction surveys, according to event organizers.

The research also showed that the No.-1 reason buyers attended AAPEX was to find new products and innovations. Buyers also attended the show to locate new suppliers, expand their network, and expand and diversify their service offerings, according to the survey data.

In post-show exhibitor satisfaction surveys, manufacturers and suppliers gave AAPEX 2016 equally high marks. AAPEX received a 95-percent satisfaction rating from exhibitors, with 86 percent saying they considered the event a “good” to “excellent” investment of their time and money.

AAPEX 2017 will take place Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. The event is expected to feature more than 2,200 exhibitors and 44,000 buyers. Approximately 158,000 automotive aftermarket professionals from over 140 countries are projected to be in Las Vegas for AAPEX and the SEMA Show.

 

Rep Council Teleforum To Discuss Trump’s Impact

The Auto Care Association’s Manufacturers’ Representatives Council will host a teleforum April 7 on the Trump administration’s impact on the auto care industry. Aaron Lowe, the association’s senior vice president of regulatory and government affairs, will moderate. The panelists will be Tom Knoblauch, vice president and general counsel of Dorman Products; Rodney Pierini, president and CEO of CAWA; and Ray Pohlman, vice president of government and community relations for AutoZone. Click here to register.

 

Next Heavy Duty Leadership Seminar Scheduled For July

The next Heavy Duty Leadership program — bringing together early- and mid-career professionals in the commercial truck aftermarket — will be held July 9-14 on Northwood University’s campus in Midland, MI. The seminar is intended to foster the development of the next generation of heavy-duty parts distribution, manufacturing, service, association and fleet management professionals.

The curriculum will feature a blend of industry analysis, discussion, and debate of new challenges and competitive strategies, as well as individual skills training in team management, leadership roles, strategic thinking, planning, and more.

The program will be taught by heavy-duty industry leaders in collaboration with faculty from Northwood’s DeVos Graduate School of Management and the University of the Aftermarket. Areas of study will include …
• Global competition;
• Mergers and acquisitions;
• Industry supply chain trends and challenges;
• Team management and development;
• Strategic management; and
• Business strategy development in multi-channel markets.

Program tuition ($2,995) includes all instruction, material and meals. On-campus housing is available. Those interested in attending are encouraged to contact the University of the Aftermarket as early as possible, as class size is limited and last year’s class sold out early.

Participants will receive 3.5 continuing education units (CEUs) that can be applied toward industry education certificates. For additional information or to register, click on the “Course Calendar” link at universityoftheaftermarket.com or call (800) 551-2882.

 

Superior Industries Making Move To Acquire Germany-Based UNIWHEELS

Superior Industries International (Southfield, MI), a large manufacturer of aluminum wheels for light vehicles in North America, has announced plans to commence a tender offer for 100 percent of the outstanding shares of UNIWHEELS AG, the United Wheels Group. The aggregate equity purchase price, assuming all outstanding shares are tendered, is estimated at $715 million.

The owner of 61 percent of the outstanding UNIWHEELS shares has agreed to tender its shares. The tender offer is not conditioned on receipt of any antitrust approval.

Headquartered in Germany, UNIWHEELS is the third largest supplier of aluminum wheels to the European OEM market, as well as a leading European manufacturer of aluminum wheels for the automotive aftermarket.

The combination would create one of the largest global providers of aluminum wheels, with a diversified customer base and geographic reach. Additionally, it creates a platform for further investment in designing and manufacturing products.

The transaction will be funded through a combination of debt, preferred equity and balance sheet cash. The preferred equity will be purchased by TPG Growth. The transaction has been approved by both boards of directors. The tender offer is expected to close around the end of May.

 

Walter Surface Technologies Opens DC In Texas 

Walter Surface Technologies has opened a 22,000-square-foot distribution and training center in Dallas to serve distributor partners and customers across the southern and western United States. Walter specializes in abrasives, power tools and tooling, industrial parts washing systems, cleaners, degreasers, and lubricants for a number of industries, including automotive.

 

Former Alldata President Joining ShiftMobility

Former Alldata president Jeff Lagges is joining ShiftMobility Inc. as its chief sales officer and a member of the executive team, reporting to CEO Pavana Jain. Starting in April, Lagges will be responsible for ShiftMobility’s sales and go-to-market strategy, and will play a role in the company’s expansion.

Lagges was part of Alldata from its early days in the 1990s, serving as the company’s president from 2001 onward following Alldata’s acquisition by AutoZone.

ShiftMobility’s connected service network and technology integrates parts manufacturers, distributors, repair centers, and vehicles on a telematics-enabled platform. The goal is to drive industry connectivity and mobile commerce.

 

Eaton Appoints New Vehicle Group President

Eaton has appointed João Faria as president of its Vehicle Group, which makes engine air management, traction control, fluid conveyance, and powertrain products for passenger and commercial vehicles. The move is effective May 1. Faria is a former president of Eaton’s Hydraulics Business, Americas.

He succeeds Ken Davis, who will retire Aug. 1. Davis has served as the Vehicle Group president since 2011. He has been with Eaton since 1986.

 

Hella Fills Senior Management Posts For The Americas

Jörg Weisgerber, Timo Krokowski and Christoph Söhnchen have been appointed to key management positions at Hella. All three executives will be based at Hella’s offices in Plymouth, MI.

Weisgerber is now the CEO of Hella Electronics for North and South America, with overall responsibility for the company’s electronics business in the region, including strategy, product development and manufacturing operations. He previously was president of IEE Sensing – North America.

Krokowski is now the vice president of program management – electronics in the Americas, including body electronics, advanced driver assistance systems and energy management. Krokowski was managing director of Hella Vietnam.

Sӧhnchen is now vice president for program management – components, with responsibility for actuators in the Americas and global responsibility for sensors. He was vice president of program management – sensors at the company’s headquarters in Germany.

 

Acquisition Opportunity for Automotive Parts Distribution Company

Effective mix of commercial and retail sales with highly visible store front/retail space and ample parking and loading docks. Located in desirable geographic area. Loyal customer following with strong brand recognition. Stocks popular brands, centrally located and close to major freeways to extend market area … Click here to find out more.

 

APA Elects Board Of Directors

Mike Maloof, owner of World Auto Parts, is the new chairman of the Automotive Parts Associates (APA) board of directors. He is joined by the following fellow officers …
• Vice Chairman: Rob Jacobs, president of the Automotive Warehouse Co.;
• Secretary: Jim Holmquist, owner of H&H Wholesale Parts;
• Treasurer: Doug Squires, chairman of the board of Bestbuy Distributors; and
• Immediate Past Chairman: Ben Yelowitz, CFO and treasurer of POJA Warehouse.

Re-elected to three-year terms are Jeff Levine of Levine Auto + Truck Parts, Randall Swedlove of Morris Automotive Supply and Mike Maloof. Joseph Koudsi of IMS continues, serving the second year of his three-year term.

 

Valvoline’s Board Wants To Eliminate Supermajority Requirement

Valvoline Inc. has filed a preliminary proxy statement with the SEC for a special shareholders meeting to consider and vote upon a proposal by the company’s board of directors to amend Valvoline’s articles of incorporation.

The articles currently require an affirmative vote from the holders of at least 80 percent of the voting power of Valvoline’s outstanding voting stock to …
• Remove a director from the board without cause;
• Adopt, repeal, alter or amend any provision of the company’s by-laws; and
• Amend, alter, change or repeal — or to adopt any provision inconsistent with — certain articles.

The board unanimously recommends that the company’s shareholders vote to approve and adopt amendments to the articles that will eliminate the supermajority voting provisions in a step-down process.

If approved, the amendments will …
• Immediately reduce the current supermajority voting thresholds to 66-2/3 percent upon the effectiveness of the amendments; and
• Three years later, reduce the 66-2/3 percent supermajority voting threshold to a simple majority vote.

“The amendments will allow our shareholders to exercise greater influence over our corporate governance as we continue to grow our business,” said Sam Mitchell, Valvoline’s CEO. “Ensuring that we maintain a sound corporate governance framework goes hand-in-hand with our efforts to build long-term shareholder value.”

 

People Watching 3/30/17

• The Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) has announced Drew Rhodes as its manager of business development and event logistics. As such, Rhodes leads advertising and sponsorship sales, negotiates and manages offsite contracts and event details, and facilitates and acts as OESA’s primary interface with off-site event facilities.

Carlisle Companies has added Bob Roche as its vice president and CFO. Roche joins Carlisle from Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI), where he was the JCI/Tyco merger integration lead. Steve Ford, who was CFO of Carlisle, continues to serve as vice president, secretary, and general counsel of the company and retains responsibility for managing Carlisle’s investor relations.

• Omar Asali has announced his intention to resign from the Spectrum Brands Holdings board of directors effective April 14. Asali is leaving to establish a private investment vehicle to make long-term investments in private and public companies. According to Spectrum, his exit is not a result of any disagreement with the company or its subsidiaries. Asali has been vice chairman of the board and one of Spectrum’s directors since 2011. Spectrum’s Global Auto Care division is comprised of STP, Armor All and A/C Pro.

 

News Briefs 3/30/17

Gates Canada has received the 2016 NAPA Supplier of the Year Award. Gates has been a NAPA supplier for 50 years. Gates Canada has received this award three out of the past four years.

• The Auto-Wares Group of Companies (Grand Rapids, MI), a member of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, has acquired Lincolnway Auto Supply, a Bumper to Bumper location in Valparaiso, IN. Lincolnway will become an Auto Value parts store.

• The Arnold Oil Co. (Austin, TX) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Arnold Oil is a member of the Federated Auto Parts group.

Poorman Automotive Warehouse (Wichita, KS) has selected Autopart Online from MAM Software to handle a range of business management technology services, including point-of-sale, inventory management, forecasting, purchasing, reporting and accounting. The WD is a member of the National Pronto Association, as well as an ACDelco Direct Account and a Motorcraft Factory Authorized Distributor.

World Tech Toys (drones) won the Best New Vendor award at the Integrated Supply Network’s Tool Expo West.

LEACREE Shocks & Struts has selected Illumaware’s Evokat to manage its aftermarket ACES and PIES data.

Van Bergen & Greener’s starter drive part numbers can now be found on PartRef.com, according to the YouTech Group.

Cardinal Parts & Equipment is now a PartRef sponsor.

Turn 14 Distribution (Horsham, PA) now carries products from Advanced Clutch Technology, Prothane Motion Control, Anzo USA, Rugged Off Road and The Driveshaft Shop.

Malco Automotive (Barberton, OH) has introduced five new products to help round out its detail line: Leather Protectant, Ready Shine, Hi-Shine, Stick Tight Spray Adhesive and Mat Clamps.

• Tecumseh, MI-based Ididit has announced a new logo and branding to go along with a revamped website, ididit.com. The new site features resources for dealers, installers and drivers, including tech tips, video tutorials and downloadable instructions for all of the company’s products.

Denso Products & Services Americas will be a supporting sponsor of all 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series races this year.

K&N Filters (Riverside, CA) has expanded its long-time partnership with Team Lucas to encompass multiple racing series this year, including the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, the Lucas Oil Regional Off Road Racing Series and the Lucas Oil Modified Series. Overall, K&N Filters will have a presence at several hundred race events this year.

Pennzoil is now the official motor oil for extreme performance driver Ken Block and the Hoonigan Racing Division team.

• Performance racing suspension parts specialist Eibach is celebrating its 30th anniversary in the United States. The company plans to host an open house April 6 to celebrate.

 

Event & Trade Show Briefs 3/30/17

• The Arnold Oil Co. held an event this month at its headquarters in Austin, TX to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary. It included a booth show featuring over 100 vendor partners. Arnold Oil is a Federated Auto Parts member.

• The Integrated Supply Network’s third Tool Expo West featured over 90,000 SKUs from more than 150 vendors, according to ISN. The expo, which ran March 17-18 in Las Vegas, included a number of first-to-market products and training sessions.

• The ISN Tool Dealer Expo Orlando will take place June 30 to July 1 at the Gaylord Palms Resort.

• Early-bird registration for MEMA’s annual Legislative Summit ends April 7. The event will take place May 17-18 in Washington, DC. Click here for more information.

• The remanufacturing section at AAPEX is nearly sold out, according to the Motor & Equipment Remanufacturers Association (MERA).

• The 2017 MERA-Golisano Remanufacturing & Sustainability Conference is scheduled for Oct. 4 in Troy, MI. The half-day MERA Remanufacturing Technology Forum will take place the day prior.

Registration is now open for the 70th annual AWDA Conference to be held Oct. 28-30 in Las Vegas.

• The Auto Care Association’s Paint, Body & Equipment Specialists (PBES) spring conference — scheduled for May 16-18 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile — will include two new features: a YANG Regional Meet-Up on May 17 and an Innovation Fair on May 18. Click here for more information. The conference is open to PBES community members and non-members.