Quick Hits …
(A few short items to get us started this week)
• ISC Industries Inc. (Carlstadt, NJ) — parent to the Suspensia chassis brand and Tuff Support lift support brand — is now an approved vendor to the Automotive Parts Services Group throughout the Americas, the company announced Jan. 11.
• The Metelli Group of Italy is now a listed supplier with Nexus Automotive International. Metelli makes transmission, engine and brake parts, as well as water pumps.
• The Timken Company has retained Grant Brothers Sales to represent Timken in the automotive and heavy-duty channels across Canada.
• Longtime Exide veteran Jimmy Stewart has joined the MAC Engineering & Equipment Company, which manufactures machines for the lead battery industry, as its vice president of sales and marketing. At Exide, Stewart was the senior director of global equipment, facility and tooling engineering. He had been with the company for more than 45 years.
• Andrew Keim officially left MEDCO, where he served as president, at the end of 2020. Keim had been with the automotive tools and equipment distributor for some 20 years, the last 11 years as its president. MEDCO is now led by Kevin Short.
Jefferies Expects Trend Improvement;
Channel Feedback More Optimistic
Jefferies LLC expects aftermarket trends to improve in 2021 with collision and service demand growing as vehicle miles traveled (VMT) recovers. “Despite expectations of a ‘high bar’ in 2021 given record 2020 comps, the aftermarket industry is expected to grow 12% to $314 billion from the $281 billion expected in 2020,” analysts Bret Jordan, Mark Jordan and Ethan Huntley wrote in a How We See the Road Ahead report dated Jan. 12.
“We expect strong demand from the do-it-yourself (DIY) segment as consumers remain focused on reducing vehicle repair costs, while the do-it-for-me (DIFM) segment appears set to recover as vehicle miles traveled (VMT) improves,” the Jefferies team wrote. “In the aftermarket, we continue to favor buy-rated O’Reilly Automotive, given the company’s best-in-class supply chain and recent execution, and AutoZone Inc., given the company’s above-peer DIY mix (approximately 78%) and growing DIFM mix in the longer term.”
Jefferies also expects vehicle collisions to increase as VMT recovers in 2021. “As collision volumes rebound, we also see improvement for collision repair operators and alternative parts suppliers,” the analysts wrote in their Jan. 12 report. “We continue to favor LKQ Corp., given the company’s position as the leading alternative parts supplier for the collision-repair industry in North America and leading mechanical parts distributor across Europe.”
Jefferies’ proprietary predictive VMT model estimates November VMT was 245.10 billion miles (down 6% year over year), with an upper limit of 257.00 billion miles and a lower limit of 233.20 billion miles. Jefferies’ model estimates December VMT was 253.80 billion miles (down 7% year over year), with an upper limit of 265.50 billion miles and a lower limit of 241.70 billion miles.
Additionally, the analysts wrote in their Jan. 11 Monthly Tune-Up that channel feedback has turned more optimistic given the outlook for stimulus and improved year-end trends.
“After a November slowdown muted early December enthusiasm, early January channel feedback appears more optimistic as business trends appear to have strengthened into year-end, while the prospect of additional direct stimulus checks appears more likely,” the Jefferies team wrote. “We note that regional performance dispersion has been mentioned, with COVID ‘hotspots’ (notably West) called out as relatively weaker markets.”
GPC Promotes Will Stengel To President
The Genuine Parts Company (GPC) board of directors has promoted Will Stengel from executive vice president and chief transformation officer to president. Stengel, who joined the company in 2019, becomes only the eighth president in GPC’s 93-year history.
Stengel came to GPC after more than a decade in various leadership roles with HD Supply, including as president and CEO of HD Supply Facilities Maintenance. Prior to HD Supply, he worked in the strategic business development group at Home Depot and in various investment banking roles.
As GPC’s president, he continues to report to Paul Donahue, chairman and CEO.
Donahue called Stengel an exceptional talent and a proven leader, adding that his promotion reflects the board’s and management’s commitment to succession planning.
“As chief transformation officer, Will has led the effective and disciplined management of our transformation initiatives, while also taking on various operational and strategic responsibilities,” Donahue said. “As president, he will continue to lead these efforts and work alongside me to further develop and advance our strategic roadmap and execute our growth and productivity initiatives.”
Garrett Motion Settles With Honeywell,
Announces Reorganization Agreement
It appears that a reorganization of Garrett Motion and a resolution to its dispute with Honeywell is at hand. Garrett on Jan. 11 announced that it has selected an enhanced proposal from a consortium of stockholders led by Centerbridge Partners and funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management as the plan to reorganize the company.
The decision comes after considering proposals from various parties, including bidders at a court-approved auction, and involved multiple bids from a court-approved “stalking horse,” KPS Capital Partners, as well as another group of stockholders.
Under the proposed transaction …
• All creditors of Garrett other than Honeywell are unimpaired and paid in full in cash.
• All existing and pending litigation will be resolved between Honeywell and Garrett, and both companies will release each other from the claims asserted in all pending legal actions.
• Prepetition-funded debt is reduced from roughly $1.90 billion on Sept. 20, 2020 (the time of Garrett’s Ch.-11 bankruptcy filing) to an estimated $1.10 billion at emergence from bankruptcy protection.
• Stockholders (other than the parties to a plan sponsor agreement) will have the option of receiving $6.25 per share in cash — an approximate 30% premium over the closing price on Jan. 8, 2021.
• Stockholders who do not opt for the cash can retain their existing shares of common stock and receive the right to subscribe for a share of as much as $200 million in “Series A” preferred stock.
• Plan sponsors and stockholders participating in the rights offering will subscribe for $1.25 billion in “Series A” preferred stock (the proceeds of which will be used to repay existing funded debt), make a $375 million payment to Honeywell, fund cash payments to stockholders opting to receive cash for their shares and pay transaction expenses.
• All asbestos and tax indemnification obligations to Honeywell incurred in connection with its 2018 spin-off from Honeywell will be resolved.
• In addition to receiving $375 million in cash at emergence, Honeywell will receive “Series B” preferred stock payable in installments of $35 million in 2022 and $100 million annually between 2023-‘30.
• Garrett will have the option to prepay the “Series B” preferred stock in full at any time at a call price equivalent to $584 million as of the emergence date.
• Garrett also will have the option to make a partial payment of the “Series B” preferred stock, reducing the present value to $400 million, at any time within 18 months of emergence.
• In every case, the duration of future liabilities to Honeywell will be reduced from 30 years prior to Garrett’s Ch.-11 filing to a maximum of nine years.
• Honeywell will have the right to elect one of seven Garrett board members until the value of the remaining payments on the “Series B” preferred stock is below $125 million.
• Garrett will remain publicly listed.
Garrett President and CEO Olivier Rabiller said the proposed transaction addresses Garrett’s pre-filing capital structure, adding that the company will benefit from the support of Centerbridge and Oaktree. “It provides the right capital structure to ensure Garrett’s long-term viability and sets the foundation for the next phase of Garrett’s growth,” Rabiller said in a statement dated Jan. 11. “We look forward to emerging from Ch. 11 stronger and better positioned … .”
Both investment management firms have prior automotive supplier experience, including work with Dana (Centerbridge), Delphi (Oaktree), TI Auto (Oaktree) and Dayco (Oaktree).
“We are pleased that Garrett has agreed to the plan presented by Centerbridge and Oaktree, along with Honeywell, which is supported by a majority of Garrett’s equity holders and the ad hoc group of Garrett noteholders,” Honeywell said in a statement dated Jan. 11. “Under the agreement, Garrett will be recapitalized and well-positioned to meet its obligations, including those to Honeywell, and will avoid costly litigation. We believe this is the right path forward that maximizes value for all stakeholders and positions Garrett for long-term financial and operating success. … Honeywell is pleased to have resolved its claims and the pending legal actions in a favorable way for both Honeywell’s and Garrett’s stakeholders. Honeywell looks forward to Garrett’s exit from bankruptcy and its continued success as a standalone company.”
Garrett expects to file a modified plan of reorganization reflecting the terms of the plan sponsor agreement by Jan. 22. Management expects Garrett to emergence from Ch. 11 by April 30, subject to receiving bankruptcy court approval and satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Management also expects Garrett to continue operating without interruption.
Court filings and other documents related to the Ch.-11 process are available at kccllc.net/garrettmotion.
Highline-Warren Buys BlueDevil Products
Highline-Warren has acquired BlueDevil Products from The Starco Group, adding the BlueDevil, Red Angel and PJ1 brands to Highline –Warren’s portfolio of owned and licensed brands. BlueDevil is a provider of premium performance automotive and motorsport consumable items, including stop leak products, fluid additives, and repair and maintenance products.
“We look forward to making these products available more widely to new and existing customers as we leverage our unique liquids manufacturing and distribution capabilities to grow our national platform,” said Darcy Curran, CEO of Highline-Warren.
Highline-Warren got its start in 2020, created by Pritzker Private Capital’s acquisitions of Highline Aftermarket Holdings and Warren Distribution. (PPC and co-investors invested alongside members of the Highline and Warren management teams).
The combined company, which is headquartered in Memphis, is a national manufacturer and distributor of consumable and maintenance products. It has 27 facilities and more than 1,200 employees. Highline-Warren carries over 24,000 products, including such exclusives as Mag 1 oil and lubricants, Rain-X windshield washer fluid, and Prime Guard products.
Financial terms of the BlueDevil transaction were not disclosed.
R&R Marketing Consultants To Rep Red Line Synthetic Oil
Red Line Synthetic Oil of Benicia, CA has retained R&R Marketing Consultants Inc. (RRMCI) for North American sales and marketing representation. RRMCI will represent Red Line Oil’s entire lubricant lineup, including motor oil, gear oil, assembly lubes and fuel additives, as well as the company’s WaterWetter cooling additive.
Kansas City-based RRMCI is a marketing and sales firm specializing in the automotive, powersports and marine aftermarkets. The company provides a variety of business services, including prospecting, market strategy and planning, sales calls, and pipeline inventory management.
Brembo Adds Marketing Chief
Bahar Freedman is the newly appointed chief marketing officer of Brembo. Freedman comes to the Italian auto parts maker from the ZF Group, where she was head of global marketing for ZF Aftermarket. Prior to ZF, Freedman was the global marketing communications manager for TRW Automotive Aftermarket.
Longtime CEO Takes Reins Of Investigative Firm Vaudra International
Revised at 8:31 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021 …
Tamara Rabenold, longtime CEO of Vaudra International Intellectual Property Investigative Specialists, is now 100% owner of the company after buying out Randy Rabenold, who co-founded the company with a business partner in 2003. The shift to full ownership was a natural progression for Tamara, who has worked her way up in the company since starting there 17 years ago after a brief career in marketing.
“I had kind of climbed the ranks as far as responsibility and managerial roles,” said Tamara. “I had already taken over day-to-day running of the company as well as marketing and other aspects. I was wearing a lot of hats.”
Business succession plans came up last year after Randy — who is Tamara’s husband and a private investigator with a background in law enforcement — announced he wanted to retire.
“I was excited to have this opportunity because I have been so close to this business,” Tamara said. “I feel like it’s been mine for so long, and now it really is. I get to make the decisions, set the plans, the goals and the path. It’s changed my perspective dramatically.”
Tamara said it was important to her as a professional woman to buy out her husband because she did not want to be perceived as someone who got this because of marriage. “I worked my way up and earned it,” she said.
Indeed, Tamara has been an integral part of the small company since making the leap into the world of intellectual property private investigation 17 years ago. Tamara said she became interested in the business after getting to know Vaudra’s owners, whose offices happened to be right across the hall from where she worked as an advertising executive right out of college.
An ambitious marketer, she talked Vaudra’s owners into letting her firm do a branding campaign for the company, enabling her to develop a deeper understanding of the world of private investigation. Her fascination with the industry grew and when they offered her a job, she jumped at the chance to move across the hall and start a new career.
She quickly discovered that the skills she honed in her advertising career served her well once she became a licensed private investigator. “A big piece of what we do involves building relationships,” Tamara said. “My natural ability to have a conversation and engage with the customer played well into investigative work.”
Vaudra’s specialty is the investigation of intellectual property issues, and the company works with clients across many industries, including the automotive aftermarket. Tamara has presented at several aftermarket trade shows and serves on the AASA Intellectual Property Council.
“So many of the investigative aspects of what we do are the same regardless of the commodity,” Tamara said. “We are able to translate that across industries, and that’s what we’ve done as we work to get more involved with the auto aftermarket.”
Because confidentiality is key to Vaudra’s work, Tamara was could not provide details of cases but spoke in general about tactics and approaches used to gain access to information and forge relationships, which includes going to industry trade shows.
“Trade shows are a great place to have that initial contact,” Tamara said. “It gives us a method to have that customer interaction and enables us to approach those businesses as potential customers and engage with them on that level.”
One of Vaudra’s cases relevant to the aftermarket that she discussed is familiar to many: the patent infringement investigation of Oracle Lighting.
Vaudra was hired by Oracle’s counsel, Edwin A Sisson, Attorney at Law, LLC, to investigate a Chinese entity believed to be producing knock-off versions of patented Vector grills for Jeep Wranglers — items that began appearing in the market almost immediately after product launch in 2017.
Investigators based in China were eventually able to locate the manufacturer and produce evidence compelling enough to bring a patent infringement lawsuit against them, which they won last summer.
It’s all in a day’s work, said Tamara, whose future plans include beefing up Vaudra’s marketing initiatives and adding investigators.
“Our job is to gather the facts, obtain the evidence and build the story,” Tamara said. “We ask ‘What’s going on here? What’s this guy’s M.O.? And, how is he conducting his operation that is to the detriment to the brand we are representing.’ We put those facts together and provide them to the client. We are always aligned with what our clients’ objectives are and craft strategies around that.”
Certification of Vaudra as a 100% woman-owned business is another goal Tamara has for Vaudra, which is translated from the French verb “valoir,” meaning, “to be worth.”
“There are lots of different ways to get certified, and it will enable us to stand out to global entities that have initiatives for working with minority-owned businesses,” Tamara explained. “In an industry that is underrepresented by women, being in that category becomes a marketing benefit for us.” — Susan Pappas
Expanded Role For Jameson Templin At Arnott Air Suspension
Arnott Air Suspension (Merritt Island, FL) has promoted Jameson Templin to North American director of sales, reporting to George Greene, vice president of North American sales. Templin, who has been with company since 2018, was a key account manager. He has more than a dozen years of aftermarket sales and operations experience, including time as a regional manager for Transtar Industries.
O’Reilly To Pay $79,200 For COVID Violations At
New Mexico Store
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has announced a settlement agreement with O’Reilly Auto Parts for alleged violations of the state’s public health order and the Occupational Health & Safety Act that NMED contends resulted in an unsafe workplace at a store in Santa Fe.
NMED said it inspected the O’Reilly store on Airport Road in July following “several citizen complaints.” According to the department, inspectors observed that management did not require employees to wear face coverings and had not posted signage requiring customers to wear face coverings.
According to the NMED, O’Reilly will pay $79,200 in penalties. The department reports that during subsequent inspections, store management had corrected the violations.
The Greensheet reached out to O’Reilly for comment and received the following reply …
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, O’Reilly Auto Parts has made the safety and wellness of our team members and our customers our unwavering top priority. In the very early stages, we instituted increased cleaning protocols in our facilities; hand washing and hand sanitizing guidelines; provided personal protective equipment including masks and gloves to our team members; established masking and social distancing requirements for our team members and our customers in all of our locations; instituted curbside pickup options; and made other in-store experience changes and signage additions based on, at a minimum, federal, state and local requirements, as well as recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization — all focused on protecting our team members and customers. We continue to monitor these channels for new information and updates, and continue to modify our processes and procedures based on the most up-to-date guidance and best practices.
“Specific to your question related to the New Mexico Environmental Department press release, the allegations cited in the news release were isolated to a single O’Reilly location in Santa Fe on a single day, July 4, 2020. Upon inspection, the environmental department reported allegations to our management team, the allegations were immediately reviewed by the management team, the environmental department inspected again, on multiple occasions, and no further allegations have since been reported.
“O’Reilly strongly objects to these allegations; however, in lieu of a costly legal process, O’Reilly made the decision to settle with the New Mexico Environmental Department, as fully described in the settlement agreement.
“Again, O’Reilly Auto Parts’ top priority remains the safety and wellness of our team members and our customers. We continue to require each of our stores to comply with all internally and externally mandated safety measures, and we continue to work hard to provide the needed parts and expertise our customers depend on to keep their vehicles on the road and their lives moving forward.”
Continental Battery Expands In The Northeast
The Continental Battery Company has acquired TBA Inc. of Bangor, ME, a distributor that has specialized in tires, batteries, trailers and auto accessories.
“TBA is a highly respected organization in Maine that will easily expand into other parts of the Northeast,” said Continental CEO Eric Royse. “This acquisition fits into our strategy of geographic expansion into the key northeastern United States. It is a highly diversified business with a lot of growth potential.”
Dallas-based Continental Battery now has more than 75 branches nationwide.
XS Power Batteries Opens West Coast Distribution, Manufacturing Facility
XS Power Batteries has begun operations at its new Las Vegas distribution and manufacturing facility near McCarren International Airport. XS Power is a manufacturer and distributor of high-performance batteries, chargers, capacitors, cable and accessories. It offers AGM lead-acid, lithium and custom-made power products, as well as a complementary line of accessories, to the automotive, powersports, marine and commercial markets worldwide.
According to management, the Nevada facility will improve access to the company’s products for customers in the western United States due, in part, to shorter shipping times. In addition to shipping, the location will produce SuperBanks ultra capacitors, Li series lithium batteries, Titan8 lithium batteries and XV Series lithium batteries.
SEMA Seeking Speakers
SEMA is issuing a call for speakers for the 2021 SEMA Show, 2021 PRI Trade Show and the association’s year-round virtual education program. Available at sema.org/speakers, applications are open to innovative thinkers, industry experts and dynamic presenters who can share ideas, technology and expertise with the industry.
Speaker proposals for the 2021 SEMA Show must be submitted by Feb. 4, while 2021 PRI Trade Show proposals must be submitted by April 4. Virtual education proposals can be submitted at any time.
ISN Bolsters Its Team In Europe
Lee Forty has joined the Integrated Supply Network Europe (ISN Europe) as commercial director. Forty is a 20-year aftermarket veteran who most recently was head of workshop solutions for Euro Car Parts. Earlier in his career, Forty spent nearly a dozen years in sales with GSF Car Parts.
Southwest Lift & Equipment Expands To Arizona
Southwest Lift & Equipment, an exclusive Stertil-Koni lift distributor, has opened a new, dedicated sales, service and warehouse facility in Queen Creek, AZ to address growing customer demand. The new location complements Southwest Lift’s longstanding site in San Bernardino, CA.
The company got its start in 2006. Its customers include public transit agencies, municipalities, pupil transportation providers, private trucking fleets and utilities, to name a few.
Driven Brands Prices Its IPO
Driven Brands Holdings on Jan. 14 announced the pricing of its initial public offering (IPO) of nearly 31.82 million shares of its common stock at a price to the public of $22 per share.
The company has granted underwriters a 30-day option to purchase as much as an additional 4.77 million shares of its common stock at the IPO price, less underwriting discounts and commissions. The shares will trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “DRVN.” The offering is expected to close Jan. 20, subject to customary closing conditions.
Charlotte-based Driven Brands is the parent company to the auto service businesses Take 5 Oil Change, Meineke Car Care Centers, Maaco, 1-800-Radiator & A/C and Carstar. The company has more than 4,100 shops across 15 countries and services over 50 million vehicles annually. According to management, Driven Brands’ network generates approximately $900 million in revenue from more than $3 billion in systemwide sales.
Christian Brothers, Take 5, Les Schwab Rank Highest In Service Satisfaction
Christian Brothers Automotive Corp. ranked highest for full-service maintenance and repair satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Aftermarket Service Index Study. Christian Brothers recorded an impressive 869 on the study’s 1,000-point scale. Big O Tires came in second with a score of 778, and Goodyear Tire & Auto Service ranked third with a 775.
The segment average score was 753. Click here to see the study’s complete rankings for full-service maintenance and repair.
Among quick oil change providers, Take 5 ranked the highest in satisfaction with a score of 810 followed by Valvoline Instant Oil Change in second place with a 784 and Kwik Kar in third with a 775.
The segment average score was 746. Click here to see the study’s complete rankings for quick oil change providers.
Les Schwab Tire Centers ranked highest in satisfaction for tire replacement with a score of 820 followed by Discount Tire in second place with a 792 and Costco in third with a 780.
The segment average score was 750. Click here to see the study’s complete rankings for tire replacement outlets.
J.D. Power’s study is based on responses from 8,148 vehicle owners. Survey data collection was conducted online between July 2020 and October 2020. Respondents were initially selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day and from the SurveyMonkey Audience market research panel. Respondents were then screened for having aftermarket service performed in the past 12 months.
Performance in J.D. Power’s U.S. aftermarket service study, now in its second year, is based on the combined scores for seven measures that comprise the vehicle owner service experience. They are …
• Ease of scheduling and getting a vehicle in for service.
• Service adviser performance.
• Service adviser courtesy.
• Service facility.
• Time to complete service.
• Fairness of charges.
• Quality of work.
GREETINGS … According to the firm’s research, saying hello and acknowledging customers upon arrival can significantly improve customer satisfaction with aftermarket service facilities. J.D. Power noted that satisfaction scores declined when customers had to wait more than three minutes before they were acknowledged.
“One of every 10 customers waits more than five minutes before speaking with someone at a service facility,” said Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power. “Seeing as how the pandemic has affected service volume, it’s really important to do a great job with the customers who do come through the door.
“Not being acknowledged can make customers feel that their time isn’t valued. Aftermarket service providers need to ensure someone is available to greet customers when they arrive, even if it’s just to say, ‘hello.’ Otherwise, they run the risk of losing out on return business.”
Customers indicated they were greeted immediately 42% of the time for full-service maintenance and repair, 53% of the time for quick oil change providers and 34% of the time for tire replacement. Among customers in each segment who said they waited three minutes or more — which ranges between 27% and 39% of the time — satisfaction scores declined as much as 219 points.
SERVICE RECOMMENDATIONS … J.D. Power’s survey also revealed that, when service personnel recommended additional work, it was important that customers understood its value and purpose. Satisfaction was highest among customers who received recommendations for and accepted additional work.
Satisfaction among full-service maintenance and repair customers was highest (804), and these customers spent an average of $564. Quick oil change customer satisfaction was second (782) with an average spend of $252. Tire replacement customer satisfaction lagged (766) with an average spend of $838.
“Suggesting additional work can be a real test of trust,” Sutton said. “Coming across as pushy or recommending perceived unnecessary work can negatively affect satisfaction, but downplaying potentially important work can result in a missed opportunity or even create safety concerns. It’s critical that service personnel be able to justify their recommendations.”
DOING THE JOB RIGHT … Successfully completing work the first time was the most important key performance indicator (KPI) to increase customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power.
When work was completed right the first time, satisfaction among full-service maintenance and repair customers increased 230 points on average, followed by average increases of 223 points among quick oil change customers and 184 points among tire replacement customers.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL … According to the firm’s research, maintaining a clean service facility — to which customers have become highly sensitized since the coronavirus pandemic began — can account for higher satisfaction scores. However, this KPI is met less than one-third of the time: 30% for full-service maintenance and repair facilities; 25% for quick oil change facilities; and 29% for tire replacement facilities. When the service facility was cleaner than customers expected, satisfaction improved between 30 points and 42 points.
Additionally, satisfaction improved by 23 points when customers were contacted after service was completed. “Simple things, like explaining to customers about the facility’s cleaning protocols, can make the difference between whether or not they willingly plan to return for future business or will recommend it to others,” Sutton said. “Aftermarket service providers should pay special attention to simple actions that can enhance the customer experience.”
For more information about the study, click here.
ASE Winter Certification Registration Now Open
ASE winter registration is now open through March 31. More than 50 ASE certification tests are available, covering nearly every aspect of the motor vehicle service and repair industry.
Those registering will have 90 days to schedule an appointment to take the selected ASE tests, whether registering on the first day of the registration period or the last. ASE tests are conducted days, nights and weekends at nearly 450 secured, proctored test centers. A $34 registration fee is added to every order, no matter how many tests are purchased. Tests are $47 each, except for L1, L2 and L3, which are $94 each.
For recertification, a $34 registration fee is paid per order, and tests are $47 each, except for L1R, L1R and L3R tests, which are $94 each. A person may sign up for as many recertification tests as they choose during the registration window. As an added benefit, ASE caps the cost of tests taken at $141, so the most anyone would pay to recertify in a single registration window is $175, no matter how many recertification tests are taken.
Service professionals with unexpired automobile certifications (A1-A9) also can use the ASE renewal app for recertification. The ASE renewal app was developed to help ASE-certified professionals extend the expiration date of their certifications without having to take time off or go to a secure test center for testing.
ASE testing is available throughout the year and ASE offers free online study guides to help with the test preparation process. For more information or to register for ASE certification testing, visit ase.com/register-now.
asTech Buys BlueDriver
Repairify Inc./asTech has acquired Root Four Imagination Inc./
BlueDriver, a provider of direct-to-consumer aftermarket diagnostic scan tools and services. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
BlueDriver’s diagnostic tool matches a vehicle’s make, model and trouble code to specific fixes from a repair database that has been verified by professional automotive technicians. Once the proper fix is identified, customers can order parts online within the BlueDriver app along with clear diagnostic trouble codes upon completion of the repair.
BlueDriver represents the ninth add-on acquisition for asTech, which is a Kinderhook Industries portfolio company. The move also is Kinderhook’s 99th automotive-related transaction.
Paul Cifelli, managing director of Kinderhook, called BlueDriver a highly strategic acquisition that allows asTech to augment its service offering with aftermarket diagnostic capabilities. “The addition will assist asTech in executing on its global multi-tier tool strategy and expand its offering in the automotive repair ecosystem into mechanical, whole auction, fleet, retail and e-commerce markets,” Cifelli said.
LKQ Merges Its Services Business Under A Single Brand
LKQ Corp. is combining its two mobile automotive services businesses — Elite Electronics and VeTech Automotive Electronics, which it acquired in 2019 — under the brand Elitek Vehicle Services.
Elitek partners with the repair community to repair and calibrate vehicle electronics, including ADAS systems, serving as an extension of a repair shop’s staff. Elitek offers on-call services and immediate support.
Elitek provides an array of repair services, including …
• Diagnostics and calibration.
• Re-flashing, programming.
• Pre- and post-collision repair diagnostics.
• Airbag replacements.
• Theft and vandalism repair.
• Frame replacements.
• Air conditioning service.
Crash Champions Grows In Ohio
Crash Champions, an independent collision repair MSO, has acquired three Excalibur Collision repair shops in Northeast Ohio, which will rebrand to Crash Champions-Streetsboro, Crash Champions-Bainbridge and Crash Champions-South Euclid. The move follows last year’s acquisitions of Auto Body, Collision & Glass and Fred Rieser in Ohio. Crash Champions now has a total of 58 shops.
Tyrata Launches Data Portal For Real-Time Tread Wear Monitoring
Tyrata Inc. has launched Tyrata.io, a data portal for its IntelliTread tire tread monitoring products. The portal is designed to work in combination with Tyrata’s Drive-Over System (DOS) to provide direct tire measurement and real-time tread wear analysis for large vehicle fleets.
DOS collects tire tread wear data when vehicles drive over a speedbump-like unit that can now be linked to Tyrata.io to inform service and depot managers about the condition of their tires in real time. Fleet operators can monitor the health of an individual tire, as well as obtain tire history and analytics. They also can get fleet-wide tire wear status information and service recommendations.
Cox Automotive Acquires Dickinson Fleet Services
Cox Automotive has acquired Indianapolis-based Dickinson Fleet Services, a mobile maintenance provider for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and trailers across North America.
The move is seen as growing the capabilities and geographic reach of Cox Automotive Mobility’s Pivet fleet services marketplace. The breadth of Dickinson’s preventive maintenance and mobile emergency repair service capabilities — including a fleet of over 700 mobile repair units and 800 technicians — will enhance Pivet’s existing fleet service offerings.
Management sees Dickinson’s mobile repair services as the cornerstone of Pivet’s growth trajectory, calling the new operations highly complementary to Pivet’s existing network of fixed- and high-capacity service centers, including hubs in Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
Private Equity Firm Purchases Fleet Maintenance, Repair Provider
Brightstar Capital Partners, a private equity firm, has acquired a majority stake in Amerit Fleet Solutions in partnership with the company’s co-founders — CEO Dan Williams and COO Amein Punjani — who lead the senior management team. Walnut Creek, CA-based Amerit is a provider of outsourced fleet maintenance across the United States, including mobile maintenance, servicing more than 150,000 vehicles, according to Brightstar. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
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National Automotive, Roads, Fuel Association Names New President
The National Automotive, Roads, Fuel Association (NARFA) has announced Jesse Kaplan of Massachusetts-based Gem Auto Parts as its board president for 2021 and 2022. “Jesse brings excellent industry knowledge to our board, as well as energetic leadership,” said Philip Healy, executive director of NARFA, “and we are very happy to have Jesse as the president of the NARFA board of directors.”
Kaplan will succeed Joe Walier of Walier Chevrolet in Keene, NH as president; however, Walier will continue to serve on the NARFA board for years to come. “His leadership has been second to none, and it has been a privilege to have been able to work with and learn from Joe over the years,” Healy said. “Both Joe and his son, Chad, continue to be a model of industry success and knowledge.”
Job Mart: Mitch Williams
Senior Executive seeking a position in the Automotive Market (Aftermarket or OEM). Extensive background in Manufacturing, Distribution, Sales & Marketing, Business Development, Quality, and Continuous Improvement. Experience includes sales channels such as Traditional WD, Automotive Retailers, Program Distribution, Big Box Retailers, Internet Retailers, Performance WDs, Marine and multiple types of OEMs. Includes running multiple operations and P&Ls and consistently delivering high value for shareholders. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
People Watching 1/19/21
• The Tri County Auto Supply Company (Rockaway, NJ) has promoted Tatiana Santiago to general manager. Santiago most recently was sales manager. She has worked in a variety of capacities over her 17 years with the company, including time in distribution and fulfillment.
• Repairify Inc./asTech has announced Maurice Tuff as its chief technology officer.
• Lowell “Buzz” Starner of Starner Sales & Marketing died Nov. 28. He was 76. Starner’s firm represented aftermarket car parts and racing parts companies. A 1967 graduate of Kent State University, Starner was active in the university’s alumni association, foundation and athletic department. He and his wife endowed several scholarships at Kent State.
• Denso Corp. has named Seiji Maeda as the CEO of its North American operations, as well as a senior director at Denso Corp. Maeda was the head of Denso’s motor business unit in Japan, a role he began in 2018. Kenichiro Ito, the previous CEO of Denso’s North American operations, has returned to the company’s global headquarters, where he now serves as chief human resources officer.
• Longtime Fox Factory Holdings CFO Zvi Glasman has joined Faraday Future, a California-based intelligent mobility company, as its CFO. Glasman has spent the past 12 years with Fox Factory, where he led the company’s IPO and several secondary offerings. Fox Factory is, among other things, the parent company to Tuscany, SCA Performance, Rocky Ridge Trucks and Rocky Mountain Truckworks.
• Former AxleTech chair and CEO Mary Petrovich has joined the Nikola Corp. board as an independent director. Petrovich is the current chair of DealerShop, a buying group for dealerships and collision centers. Nikola is a designer and manufacturer of zero-emission, battery-electric and hydrogen-electric vehicles, electric vehicle drivetrains, vehicle components, energy storage systems and hydrogen stations.
• The Timken Company has added Douglas Dynamics CFO and Secretary Sarah Lauber to its board of directors, bringing the size of the board up to 12 members. Douglas Dynamics is a manufacturer and upfitter of work truck attachments and equipment.
• American Tire Distributors (ATD) has announced Carol Genis, formerly of 20th Century Fox Television, as its chief legal officer and general counsel executive. Genis brings more than 25 years of experience in managing legal and business affairs, corporate transactions, mergers, acquisitions, restructurings, financings and more.
News Briefs 1/19/21
• Bestbuy Distributors has announced the addition of L.Y. Auto Parts of Mississauga, Ontario as a full member shareholder. Loke Yee Wong is the owner of L.Y. Auto Parts. He has been a part of the automotive aftermarket since 1995 and serves his customers alongside his son, Justin.
• Schwartz Advisors was the exclusive sell-side adviser on four acquisitions completed in the fourth quarter of 2020 — a quarterly record for the aftermarket-focused mergers and acquisitions advisory and strategic planning firm. All of the transactions were in the traditional warehouse distributor segment.
• Original One Parts now offers a “Find A Part” service on its website to help customers find back-ordered parts. Users enter the OEM part, VIN and a basic description, and Original One Parts will search its network to find the part needed.
• UsedPart.us, a locator for used auto parts in the United States, has announced the addition of 4,388 salvage yards to its inventory system, raising its centralized database to more than 18,000 salvage yards and junkyards in total. UsedPart.us has access to salvage yards’ real-time used auto parts inventory, including engines and transmissions.
• PartsTech’s customer support desk has announced extended hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday to Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon (Eastern time) on Saturdays.
• Plews & Edelmann is offering a new Edelmann Elite power steering program, featuring all-new rack and pinion assemblies, pumps, and gearboxes, as well as an advanced filter and a premium, high-performance power steering hose line.
• Dorman Products has announced a new line of loaded brake backing plates, also known as parking brake assemblies, with initial coverage for more than 3 million Ford Super Duty pickup trucks and Excursion SUVs.
• Turn 14 Distribution has added components from AST Suspension and MOTON Suspension Technology to its line card.
• Meyer Distributing has added retractable covers from Mountain Top to its line card and stocking inventory.
• Sapphire Auto & Industrial of Lac La Biche, Alberta is now a Klondike Lubricants distributor.
• LSI Chemical has announced a new international distributor: NanoTech Petroleum of South Africa, which is now authorized to distribute the entire line of LSI Chemical fuel and oil additives, in addition to the full line of Hot Shot’s Secret consumer products, in South Africa.
• The DriveTime Automotive Group, one of the largest automotive retailers in the United States, plans to hire 100 automotive technicians and cosmetic repair specialists in 2021.
• Stertil-Koni’s U.S. production facility, Stertil ALM in Streator, IL, is expected to produce its 15,000th mobile column lift in 2021.
• The TIM Capital Group has sold Rotopino.pl SA, a web-based seller of tools with online stores serving eight European Union countries, to Oponeo.pl SA, an online tire and rims seller based in Poland.
• ATEQ TPMS Tools has merged its social media accounts under the handle “ATEQTPMSGlobal” across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
• Towing products supplier Curt Manufacturing has launched a new media center at curtmfg.com, featuring videos, photos and literature.
• NTN Bearing Corp. has updated its website, NTNAmericas.com. Features include a sitewide search function, sort and filter capabilities to help users find product literature and catalogs, and a revamped distributor search tool.
• MANN Filter has launched a new website, mann-filter.com.
• S&S Truck Parts has launched a new website, sandstruck.com.
• Stage 8, a manufacturer of mechanical locking fasteners, is celebrating its 35th anniversary.
• Champion Brands is celebrating its 65th anniversary.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 1/19/21
• SEMA has scheduled a webinar on the new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for Tuesday, Jan. 19. The presenter will be CPA Gene Marks. Click here for additional information on the webinar.
• The Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) has moved its 2021 Summit to Sept. 11-17 at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront. The event had been scheduled for June. The move was made to improve the likelihood that face-to-face networking and meetings could occur in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
• CVSN’s 2021 Distributor Training Expo (DTE) is scheduled for July 23-25 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta.