Quick Hits …
(A few short items to get us started this week)
• According to a May 15 update from the Auto Care Association, Mexico will allow the manufacture of transport equipment to restart operations prior to June 1 if health security protocol processes have been established and approved before that date. Mexico also has stated that, if the protocols are not complied with, companies or industries that put the health of their workers at risk will be closed.
• MEMA and the Auto Care Association have signed on to a May 3 letter to U.S. Congressional leaders seeking “safe harbor” protection against lawsuits for essential businesses that have been called upon to continue operating during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jefferies: April Miles Traveled Was Down 36%
In its May 11 Monthly Tune-Up report, Jefferies LLC debuted its own predictive vehicle miles traveled (VMT) model to project the most recent month’s driving volume, jumping ahead of U.S. government data by two months. The latest available government driving data is for February VMT.
Jefferies’ model predicts that March VMT was 211.10 billion miles (down 22% year-over-year), with an upper limit of 226.10 billion miles and a lower limit of 196.20 billion miles. Additionally, its model predicts that April VMT was 181.00 billion miles (down 36% year-over-year), with an upper limit of 198.90 billion miles and a lower limit of 161.30 billion miles.
Jefferies claims that its model has a correlation of predicted miles driven versus reported miles driven of approximately 93%, with an average prediction error of roughly 2.6%.
IMR Survey Shows 84% Of Shops Have Experienced Sales Declines
The vast majority of U.S. independent repair shops (84%) have experienced a decrease in revenue since shelter-in-place orders have rolled out in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to an IMR Inc. survey of 400 shops conducted May 5-11.
Most of the shops surveyed (60.4%) indicated that they don’t know when they will return to normal revenue levels, with most others predicting timeframes of less than a year. Three months or less came in at 11.2%, while four months to six months came in at 10.9% and seven months to one year came in at 11.8%.
More than half of the respondents (51.3%) stated that they have rarely or never experienced a disruption in getting parts for the vehicles they service. However, 25.8% of shops surveyed indicated that they have either frequently or very frequently experienced disruptions.
A clear majority of shops (81.6%) have rarely or never switched from their regular parts suppliers or preferred brands to alternative brands in this pandemic-related disruption.
Aftermarket E-Commerce Sales Continue To Outpace Pre-Pandemic Rates
Overall aftermarket e-commerce sales for the week of May 3-9 were up 42% when compared to the week of March 1-7 (before the coronavirus pandemic forced the widespread shutdown of retail businesses), according to Hedges & Company, a digital marketing agency located in Hudson, OH.
The company tracks weekly e-commerce activity in the automotive aftermarket, OEM parts industry and powersports aftermarket. It analyzes nearly 12 million user sessions and online purchases from parts and accessory websites in the United States and Canada, including retailer websites and manufacturer websites selling direct to consumer.
The agency’s latest report noted the following sales comparisons for the week of May 3-9 compared to the first week of March …
• Powersports parts and accessories: up 126%.
• Automotive aftermarket accessories: up 41%.
• Light-truck and off-road parts sales: up 37%.
• Performance and racing parts sales: up 26%.
• OEM replacement parts sales: up 14%.
Other insights from the company’s analysis …
• Aftermarket e-commerce websites showed an average 11% improvement in conversion rates for the first 10 days of May when compared to the first 10 days of March.
• Average session duration was down 1.4% in May and pages per session was up only 1%, suggesting that online shoppers knew what they wanted to buy when visiting websites.
• The number of visits to aftermarket websites by new visitors was up nearly 6%.
Additional information about the impact of coronavirus on the automotive aftermarket can be found on Hedges & Company’s website.
Uni-Select Reports Wider Net Loss For Q1 2020
Uni-Select Inc. reported a wider net loss of $6.74 million for the first quarter of 2020 compared to a net loss of $1.33 million a year ago. Gross margin declined 9.4% to $122.78 million.
As a percentage of sales, the company’s gross margin decreased 220 basis points to 30.1%, mainly because of lower volume rebates related to the inventory optimization efforts and an unfavorable customer mix in its FinishMaster U.S. segment. Additionally, results from The Parts Alliance U.K. were affected by higher sales of low‐margin products, as well as a downward revision in volume rebates tied to expected reduced purchases in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The Canadian Automotive Group, however, benefitted from additional volume rebates and incentives from the opening of a large distribution center in Calgary.
Uni-Select’s consolidated sales declined 2.9% to $407.68 million in the first quarter of 2020. Management attributed the decrease, in large part, to negative organic growth of 3.4% and to unfavorable currency fluctuations. Also, sales were negatively affected by the 43 company‐owned stores that have been integrated over the last 12 months.
All three of the company’s segments experienced a decline in sales, affected by lower demand, especially during the final two weeks of the quarter, as the impact of coronavirus spread globally.
“Excluding the impact of COVID-19, we would have been flat year-over-year as our transformation was showing promising signs of traction,” President and CEO Brent Windom said on the company’s May 14 earnings conference call. “We did benefit from an additional billing day, the contribution from acquisitions and the savings from the continual operational improvements.
“Despite these positive contributors, our profitability was impacted significantly due to COVID-19, along with the foreign exchange losses brought on by the recent volatility in currency markets, a one-time charge and the reduction in volume rebates following the decision to further optimize our inventories. These factors resulted in lower absorption of fixed costs which ultimately impacted our margins. Excluding the [foreign exchange] losses and the one-time charge which, combined, represented $4.8 million, our adjusted EBITDA would have reached $21.60 million or a margin of 5.3%.”
UNITED STATES … The company’s FinishMaster U.S. segment reported $202.20 million in sales for the first quarter of 2020 — a decrease of 1.1% compared to the same period last year. Organic sales declined 2.0%, mainly because of the integration of 28 company‐owned stores over the last 12 months along with the effects of the pandemic in the second half of March.
Management estimates that the virus resulted in a volume decline of roughly 2.0% of FinishMaster U.S.’s quarterly sales. Excluding the virus’ impact, organic sales would have been essentially flat year-over-year.
Adjusted segment EBITDA fell 26.1% to $12.10 million, with adjusted EBITDA margin slipping from 8.0% to 6.0% on a year-over-year basis.
CANADA … The Canadian Automotive Group saw its sales decrease 3.7% to $108.94 million. Organic sales declined 4.9%, largely because of the coronavirus pandemic and the depreciation of the Canadian dollar.
Management estimates that the virus resulted in a volume decline of between 3.5% and 4.0% of the Canadian Automotive Group’s quarterly sales. Excluding the pandemic’s effect, the segment would have reported an organic sales decrease of approximately 1.0% attributable to favorable timing in paint, body and equipment sales to independent members in the 2019 first quarter that did not happen in 2020. This was partially offset by the performance of Bumper To Bumper stores during the 2020 first quarter.
Canadian Automotive Group adjusted EBITDA fell 68.9% to $2.71 million, with adjusted EBITDA margin declining from 7.7% to 2.5% on a year-over-year basis.
EUROPE … Sales from The Parts Alliance U.K. declined 5.7% to $96.54 million, attributable to an organic sales decrease of 4.5%, a weakening of the British pound and the integration of 13 company‐owned stores over the last 12 months.
Management estimates that the virus resulted in a volume decline of between 5.5% to 6.0% of The Parts Alliance U.K.’s quarterly sales. Excluding the pandemic’s effect, organic growth would have increased between 1.0% and 1.5%, driven by recently opened greenfield locations.
Segment adjusted EBITDA fell 35.2% to $4.66 million, with adjusted EBITDA margin slipping from 7.0% to 4.8% on a year-over-year basis.
PANDEMIC IMPACT … Windom told analysts on the call that Uni-Select has implemented measures to minimize the impacts of the virus on its operations, including protocols for social distancing and hygiene, as well as temporary measures designed to enhance business continuity.
“We furloughed approximately 50% of our workforce, reduced our work hours by 20% for all remaining team members,” he said. “We temporarily closed about one-third of our stores in our network while the stores that remained open were operating at reduced hours.
“We also implemented a cash conservation plan to ensure maximum liquidity and financial flexibility. We tightened the management of working capital and nonessential expenses. We reduced capital expenditures, customer investments, board of directors’ remuneration and suspended the dividend. These difficult decisions were made to safeguard our team members and our customers to ensure maximum available liquidity until the crisis abates and the market conditions improve.”
Windom added: “Our objective is to come out of the COVID-19 crisis ready to continue our performance improvement. It’s important to note we are continuously monitoring the announcements of the government assistance programs, the reopening protocols and will make adjustments when needed.”
“There is significant uncertainty in the market, but we are working on the assumption that this will last through a good part of Q2, with demand progressively recovering in Q3 and hopefully return to prior levels sometime in 2021,” Eric Bussieres, executive vice president and CFO, said on the call.
In April, overall sales decreased by approximately 50% when compared to the previous year, with a similar decrease in payroll costs. In the first few days of May, sales were marginally improved over April.
Bussieres said that the company will be able to gradually reopen closed locations across all three segments as conditions allow. “Therefore, we are starting to bring back some of our workforce, changing store hours and adjusting payroll,” he told analysts. “We are seeing this as a positive first step to a gradual return to a new normal.
“In fact, day-by-day and week-by-week, sales trends are showing stabilization and in some cases, early signs of improvements. In the first few days of May, sales marginally improved compared with what we have experienced in April as the various economies start reopening, for example, in The Maritimes and in the province of Quebec.”
In related news, Uni-Select reported on May 14 that the company is in “an advanced stage” of discussions with undisclosed existing lenders and governmental institutions to refinance certain indebtedness with a view to preserving and increasing Uni-Select’s available liquidity.
As of May 12, 2020, Uni-Select had roughly $110 million in available liquidity following liquidity preservation efforts already taken in response to the pandemic. Upon securing the proposed refinancing, the company’s total available liquidity would increase to $210 million. — Marc Vincent
Fisher Auto Parts Moves Into Northern Kentucky DC
Fisher Auto Parts has moved into a new automated distribution center in Walton, KY, which is located in one of the company’s top markets, Cincinnati. The 420,000 square-foot facility is now fully operational, according to Fisher. It has 34 loading docks and the capacity to ultimately serve as many as 250 stores.
The move comes at a time when Fisher is upgrading stores in the Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana region into hub stores in an effort to enhance inventory availability while adding additional stores and supplementing service levels, including the company’s “Out the Door in 4” initiative.
Staunton, VA-based Fisher Auto Parts has roughly 500 company-owned locations, as well as 100 independent jobbers across 18 states. Fisher is a member of Federated Auto Parts and the Automotive Parts Services Group.
Icahn Auto’s Parts Sales Declined 11.2% In Q1; Service Sales Down 5.2%
For the first quarter of 2020, Icahn Enterprises reported $635 million in net sales and other revenue from operations for its automotive segment — a decrease of $58 million (or 8.4%) compared the same period a year ago, attributable to store closures and the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Aftermarket parts sales declined by $41 million (or 11.2%) to $326 million, while automotive services sales decreased by $17 million (or 5.2%) to $309 million.
On an organic basis, aftermarket parts sales decreased by $26 million, attributable to a $19 million decline in retail sales and a $7 million decrease in commercial sales. Store closures related to Icahn Automotive’s transformation plan accounted for another $15 million decrease in aftermarket parts sales.
According to management, the coronavirus pandemic and its related impact significantly contributed to the decline in revenue, particularly automotive services revenue and commercial sales revenue which, until March 2020, were experiencing growth on an organic basis.
Icahn Automotive’s gross margin fell 19.6% to $160 million in the 2020 first quarter, while its gross margin (as a percentage of net sales and other revenue from operations) slipped from 29% to 25% on a year-over-year basis.
The segment’s net loss grew from $42 million a year ago to $73 million for the three months ended March 31, 2020.
Icahn Enterprises CFO SungHwan Cho said on the company’s May 8 earnings call that Icahn Automotive continues to push forward with a multi-year plan to restructure its operations and improve its profitability.
“The company has been closing parts stores in select markets and was making progress on the separation of the two businesses,” Cho said. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Icahn Auto has accelerated closures of parts stores that were scheduled for later in the year. In addition, the company has adjusted store hours and staffing to match reduced demand, implemented significant cost-savings measures at corporate functions and reduced capital spending to minimum levels.”
Tenneco Names New Board Chairman
The Tenneco Inc. board of directors has appointed Dennis Letham as its new chairman. He has been its lead independent director since earlier this year. Letham has been a member of the board since 2007.
Letham succeeds Gregg Sherrill, who has served as non-executive chairman of the board since 2018 and as chairman for more than 10 years after joining Tenneco in 2007 as the company’s CEO. Sherrill will remain a member of the board but plans to retire prior to next year’s annual stockholders meeting, according to Tenneco.
Dana Develops Order Management, Information Exchange For Aftermarket Customers
Dana Inc. has developed an order management and information exchange for its aftermarket customers at DanaAftermarket.com. The e-commerce platform and global e-catalog provides real-time ordering, inventory, processing and shipping data, as well as product attribute information.
Visitors to DanaAftermarket.com can check inventory status, attain technical information, view product videos and see three-dimensional views of Dana products, all without logging in. Those with login access can place orders, receive real-time confirmations, and track their orders through the processing phase.
U.S. Auto Parts Network Records Record Net Sales
U.S. Auto Parts Network reported record net sales of $87.82 million for the first quarter of 2020 — an increase of 17.5% compared the same period a year ago, attributable to a 42% increase in private-label sales.
Gross profit rose 47.9% to $29.78 million, while gross margin increased from 26.9% to 33.9% on a year-over-year basis. It marked U.S. Auto Parts’ highest quarterly gross profit in nearly a decade, which management said was possible because of the growth in private-label sales.
The company also was able to reduce its net loss from $3.58 million a year ago to $978,000 for the three months ended March 28, 2020 — an improvement of $2.60 million.
Adjusted EBITDA came in at $4.30 million compared to a loss of $98,000 a year ago. Notably, the company’s first-quarter 2020 adjusted EBITDA was almost as much as U.S. Auto Parts generated for all of fiscal 2019.
On a May 6 conference call with member of the financial community, CEO Lev Peker said U.S. Auto Parts’ sales declined double digits when compared to the prior week during the first week of shelter-in-place orders tied to the coronavirus pandemic. The next several weeks followed a similar trend but over time, business strengthened and the company began to benefit from the current environment, according to Peker.
“In early April, when the stimulus checks began to arrive, we saw a significant increase — not only week-over-week but year-over-year as well,” he told analysts on the call. “We have historically seen a lift when consumers receive tax refunds and the stimulus checks were no exception. We had a record week in April with some of our top sales days in company history shortly after the stimulus checks were distributed.
“While we ultimately view this as a temporary benefit to our business, we’re also starting to see other favorable tailwinds come out of this unprecedented time. As the nation adjusted to the new normal of shelter-in-place and social distancing, many of the consumers who previously shopped for auto parts at brick-and-mortar stores are now entering the e-commerce market for their auto parts needs.”
Peker noted that there have been a lot of first-time online auto parts shoppers, as well as new DIYers who now have more time on their hands to work on their vehicles.
“This evolution in consumer behavior has increased demand in the near term and we will, of course, continue to monitor external factors in this new environment as we evaluate potential longer-term impacts on our business,” Peker said on the call. “We see a great opportunity when more cars return to the road and miles driven start to increase again.”
He stated that — over the first five weeks of the current quarter, even with miles driven down 50% across the United States — U.S. Auto Parts experienced significant growth, with total sales up more than 40% on a year-over-year basis while maintaining solid gross margin.
Peker said that the company is on pace to generate strong sales and adjusted EBITDA growth in the second quarter.
PADEMIC UPDATE … Peker stated that U.S. Auto Parts’ three distribution centers have remained operational and that the company’s corporate office in Carson, CA transitioned to work-from-home smoothly. He said U.S. Auto Parts’ office in Manila, Philippines and its call center did see some disruption in the early days of moving everyone to work-from-home but overcame these obstacles.
“As of mid-April, our call center was fully functioning and able to respond to our customers’ needs,” Peker noted. “We are proud to be operating at full strength across our business. We haven’t laid off or furloughed a single employee due to COVID-19.”
He also said that U.S. Auto Parts’ supply chain partners in Asia experienced minor disruptions at the beginning of the pandemic but were now back to work and containers were being shipped.
MISCELLANEOUS … A few other items of interest from U.S. Auto Parts’ first-quarter 2020 earnings report and conference call …
• Management’s site consolidation initiative has progressed to the point that the company is now down to two websites: carparts.com and jcwhitney.com.
• Expansion into mechanical parts is being considered. Between 70% and 80% of U.S. Auto Parts’ sales are currently composed of collision parts.
• The company will no longer disclose its key operational metrics, such as traffic and conversion, for “competitive reasons.”
• As of March 28, 2020, U.S. Auto Parts had no revolver debt and a cash balance of $14.10 million. This compares to no debt and a $2.30 million cash balance as of Dec. 28, 2019. — Marc Vincent
CarParts.com Partners With NASCAR Race Team
CarParts.com has announced a partnership with Front Row Motorsports (FRM) for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. The California-based company is the primary partner of Michael McDowell in the series’ return to racing at Darlington Raceway May 17-20.
FRM, McDowell and John Hunter Nemechek also will represent CarParts.com on social media and in various marketing assets throughout the season.
SEMA Announces 2020 Hall Of Fame Inductees
Rich Barsamian, Jack Chisenhall, John Gaines and Joe St. Lawrence are being inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame.
Barsamian of Advanced Clutch Technology has been an active volunteer since he joined the Young Executives Network in 1995, helping to bring various educational programs to SEMA members and serving as an ambassador. He was the SEMA Person of the Year in 2014.
Chisenhall founded the Vintage Air and helped to create what is now the Hot Rod Industry Alliance.
Gaines was an early pioneer in the aftermarket warehouse distribution. His company, G&M Performance Parts, was one of the first in the country to use a fleet of vehicles to distribute products directly to local speed shops, truck accessory stores, car dealerships and machine shops.
St. Lawrence started RTM, the industry’s first production company for auto “how to” shows in the mid-1980s. He also created PowerBlock featuring shows that introduced SEMA-member products to millions of viewers.
ASE To Resume Testing
ASE plans to resume testing May 18 in select areas of the United States with test-center availability and lifted stay-at-home orders.
“We are reinstituting ASE testing in select areas of the country to help those who want to earn or renew their credentials,” said Tim Zilke, ASE president and CEO. “We are working diligently with our test-center partner, Prometric, to ensure that testing is conducted in a safe manner, following governmental health guidelines and adhering to proper social distancing recommendations.”
Tests scheduled prior to May 18 have been canceled and can be rescheduled for a date after May 18. Those who have registered for a test but have not yet scheduled an appointment have until Sept. 30 to take tests.
To maintain social distancing, test center seating will be reduced.
Valvoline Quick Lubes Sales Rise 6%, Benefitting From Strong Start To Q1
The Quick Lubes segment of Valvoline Inc. reported $212 million in total sales for the fiscal second quarter ended March 31, 2020 — an increase of $12 million (or 6.0%) when compared to the same period a year ago, attributable to premium mix improvements and increases in non-oil-change services.
Total same-store sales increased 0.7% on top of a 10.8% rise a year ago, giving Quick Lubes a two-year stack of +11.5%. Taking a closer look, we note that company-owned shops generated $140 million in sales (up 9.4%) and a 0.5% increase in same-store sales for the quarter, while franchised shops came through with $72 million in sales (flat) along with 0.8% in same-store sales growth.
Quick Lubes’ gross profit (as a percent of sales) slipped from 39.6% a year ago to $36.6% for the three months ended March 31, 2020. Segment operating income declined 9.1% to $40 million. As a percentage of sales, Quick Lubes’ operating income decreased from 22.0% to 18.9% on a year-over-year basis.
PANDEMIC IMPACT … An abrupt decline in miles driven tied to stay-at-home restrictions resulted in significant volume and sales declines in the second half of March and in April for Valvoline’s Quick Lubes segment. Through January and February, same-store sales were up 11.6%. They declined 18.2% in March influenced by shelter-in-place orders rolling out in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In response, Valvoline has flexed shop labor at its company-owned shops. The company also has rolled out short-term incremental pay and benefit programs, including additional paid sick leave and increased pay rates for hourly and salaried shop employees.
Valvoline also has provided its franchisees with flexibility to respond to the pandemic. According to management, some have elected to reduce their operating hours or temporarily close shops. However, more than 97% of franchised shops have remained open.
The company is providing various types of financial assistance to support its franchisees, including low-interest term loans, waiving royalties for one-and-a-half months and temporarily extending payment terms.
RECENT TRENDS … Valvoline CEO Sam Mitchell told analysts on the company’s May 7 quarterly report conference call that in early April, the Quick Lubes segment began to see an improvement in same-store sales trends.
“The rebound gained strength throughout the month,” Mitchell noted. “Same-store sales in the first half of the month were down about 39%, while during the second half, they declined by roughly 16%. For the most recent week, same-store sales were down only 14% — a dramatic improvement from the lows just a month earlier.”
He added that shops were still performing an average of 25 oil changes per store daily at the low point in the first half of April, which Mitchell indicated was above the cash-flow break-even point.
“Our ability to keep our stores open with positive economics is a competitive advantage,” he said. “A recent survey we conducted showed that two of our larger competitors had store closures of about 10% to 20%.
“Another encouraging sign is that our contribution from new customers is higher now than it was before the pandemic. We believe the strength of the system before COVID-19 combined with our stay-in-your-car drive-thru service model is allowing us to capture share during the crisis.”
Mitchell added: “We believe we are seeing the start of a strong recovery in the Quick Lubes segment. Given the margin benefit and operational leverage of this segment, this gives us confidence in the potential for a rapid recovery across the company. This, of course, assumes that miles driven continue to improve.” — Marc Vincent
Tuffy Acquisition Pushes Myers’ Distribution Segment To Q1 Sales Gain
The distribution segment (automotive aftermarket end market) of Myers Industries reported $38.20 million in net sales for the first quarter of 2020 — an increase of $2.02 million (or 5.6%) compared the previous year. This was possible because of roughly $5.00 million in incremental sales from the August 2019 acquisition of Tuffy Manufacturing Industries.
First-quarter distribution segment operating income rose from $213,000 a year ago to $1.85 million for the three months ended March 31, 2020. Adjusted operating income increased 67.6% to $1.87 million, primarily attributable to savings from the management’s 2019 transformation initiatives. Segment adjusted operating income margin grew from 3.1% to 4.9% on a year-over-year basis.
Myers’ distribution segment — mainly Myers Tire Supply — is engaged in the distribution of tools, equipment and supplies used in the tire, wheel, and under-vehicle service of passenger, heavy-truck and off-road vehicles, as well as the manufacturing of tire repair and retreading products.
PANDEMIC IMPACT … Executive Vice President and CFO Kevin Brackman told analysts on Myers’ May 6 earnings calls that the company’s automotive aftermarket sales fell significantly starting in the middle of March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Sales have remained down in April.
Brackman said that Myers’ consolidated sales are expected to fall approximately 20% in the second quarter of 2020, with 60% of the decline coming from the company’s material handling segment (consumer, food and beverage, industry, and vehicle end-markets) and the remaining 40% of the decrease coming from the distribution side.
For the full year, management now expects Myers to report a high single-digit decline in automotive aftermarket sales. This is down from the company’s previous forecast of an increase in the low teens.
“Demand in this end market was soft most of the first quarter but really dropped off the last two weeks of March,” Brackman said on the call. “We expect this weakness to continue and more than offset the incremental sales from the August 2019 Tuffy acquisition.” — Marc Vincent
Advantage Lifts Partners With Master Car Restorer
Advantage Lifts (Hanover, PA) — a manufacturer of lifts and accessories for car collectors, hobbyists, homeowners and commercial applications — has announced a partnership with master car restorer Wayne Carini, host of the Discovery Channel’s Chasing Classic Cars. Carini will highlight the company’s products at trade shows and historic car gatherings, as well as on Advantage Lifts’ promotional channels.
Morgan Lucas Appointed President Of Lucas Oil Products
Morgan Lucas is now the president of Lucas Oil Products, reporting directly to his father, CEO Forrest Lucas. Morgan was senior vice president of the Corona, CA-based distributor and manufacturer of motor oil and additives.
“This incredible opportunity is one that I do not take lightly and thanks to our amazing executive management team and all of our hard-working employees, I know our future is bright,” Morgan said. “I have watched my father and mother work tirelessly and make countless sacrifices to take Lucas Oil from its modest beginnings to grow it into the thriving enterprise that it is today.
“The mission they have instilled has always been to exemplify hard work and integrity through the creation of high-quality, problem-solving products with an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. Continuing their successful approach and being openminded to new opportunities amidst the ever-changing marketplace, I am confident we will continue to grow as a company for many years to come.”
ACPN Announces Content Excellence Award Winners
The Auto Care Association has announced the recipients of this year’s Automotive Content Professionals Network (ACPN) Content Excellence Awards. The program recognizes top electronic cataloging, product content and business-to-business systems in the vehicle aftermarket.
The web-based winners are …
• Gold: Spectra Premium Industries, Spectra Premium eCatalog.
• Silver: Brembo North America, Brembo Parts.
• Bronze: Standard Motor Products, Standard Brand eCatalog.
The ACES and PIES data winners are …
• Large (Over 250,000 Applications): Delphi, Delphi Brand Products.
• Medium (50,000 – 250,000 Applications): Cardone Industries, Cardone Reman Unloaded Calipers.
• Small (10,000 – 50,000 Applications): Cardone Industries, Cardone Ultra Calipers.
The installer’s choice award winners are …
• Gold: Parts Authority, IMC Web Warehouse 2.0.
• Silver: PartsTech Inc., www.partstech.com.
• Bronze: WHI Solutions, NextPart.
Meritor Revamps MeritorPartsXpress.com
Meritor Inc. has announced enhancements to MeritorPartsXpress.com that include Xact Search, a tool for users to identify and order brake shoe kits based on specific search criteria; Xpress Lane, a tool that offers quick ordering, as well as price availability for registered customers; and Xpress Fact landing pages, which offer product line overviews and announcements, as well as access to literature, training and videos.
Truck-Lite Holdings Changes Name To Clarience Technologies
Truck-Lite Holdings has changed its corporate name to Clarience Technologies. According to the company, the new name comes from combining clarity — “which signifies the visibility and insight that the company brings to its customer” — with science.
“As we continue to grow and innovate, we’ve made several changes to our operations, including establishing our new global R&D center in Pittsburgh, PA near Carnegie Mellon University and global headquarters in Southfield, MI,” CEO Brian Kupchella said. “The next step in our transformation is rebranding our parent company to better reflect our mission to provide visibility and safety to the transportation industry through leading electronics, technology, telematics and data analytics capabilities.”
Clarience Technologies is the parent company to a number of businesses, each of which will retain their current names and branding. They are …
• The Truck-Lite Company, which specializes in forward and safety lighting, wiring harness, turn signal and safety system technology for the medium- and heavy-duty truck, trailer and commercial vehicle industries.
• DAVCO Technology, a Class 8 heavy-duty, diesel-powered truck fuel-heater, water separators and filter systems business serving the on- and off-highway industries.
• Road Ready, a provider of wireless, multifunctional smart trailer monitoring with advanced data and analytics capabilities.
• Rigid Industries, which specializes in forward-projecting LED lighting for off-road enthusiasts.
• Lumitec, an international LED lighting manufacturer.
All totaled, Clarience Technologies has 12 locations globally and supplies products to customers in 68 countries.
Ryder Picks Goodyear As Preferred Tire Supplier
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company will become the preferred supplier of tires, retreads and tire management programs for Ryder System’s network of fleet customers across the United States and Canada, beginning Jan. 1, 2021. Ryder is a Fortune 500 company that provides commercial truck rental, truck leasing, used trucks for sale and last-mile delivery service. Ryder has nearly 800 service and maintenance locations across the United States and Canada.
TIA Plans Six Weeks Of Tech Webinars
Starting May 19, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) plans to hold six weeks of online webinars for passenger and light-truck tire service technicians. Using information from the Automotive Tire Service (ATS) and the Advanced Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) training programs, the association’s instructors will lead discussions on different topics each week. The 30-minute classes will take place Tuesday through Thursday three times each day until June 25. For more information, click here.
Northwood University To Offer Doctor Of Business Administration
Northwood University’s Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management is adding a doctor of business administration (DBA) degree focused on applying business theory in such areas as leadership, organizational culture and global change to complex problems. The three-year, online curriculum allows students to begin their dissertation during the first year. Doctoral students also will participate in annual collaborative residencies where they will share research; learn from peers, faculty and industry experts; and develop networks.
P.E. Firm Hires Performance Aftermarket Executive
Aron Beach has joined Wynnchurch Capital, a middle market private equity firm, as a managing director focused on operations, strategy and portfolio management. He was the CFO of Advanced Lighting Technologies.
Beach has a background in the performance aftermarket, including time as the operating director of Z Capital Partners, joining the company after its integration of MSD Performance and the ACCEL Performance Group; CFO of Prestolite Performance; and managing director – finance for the Shipston Group, majority shareholder of the Busche Performance Group.
Wynnchurch Capital of Rosemont, IL manages a number of private equity funds with $4.20 billion in committed capital under management. It specializes in recapitalizations, growth capital, management buyouts, corporate carve-outs and restructurings.
Among its current portfolio companies is Team Car Care (formerly known as Heartland Automotive Services), a large Jiffy Lube franchisee with more than 500 shops across 26 states. One of its previous portfolio companies is Wolverine Advanced Materials, which is now part of ITT Inc.
Former Piston Group President Joins Workhorse Board
Industry veteran Jacqui Dedo has joined the board of directors of the Workhorse Group, a publicly traded company focused on providing sustainable and cost-effective electric vehicles to the last mile delivery sector.
Dedo has more than 30 years of global automotive, off-highway, industrial and aftermarket experience. This includes time as president of the Piston Group, chief strategy and supply chain officer for Dana Inc., and president – automotive at The Timken Company.
People Watching 5/18/20
• Sandy Rapp has joined TravelCenters of America as its chief information officer and senior vice president of information technology. Rapp is an information systems and business executive with over 30 years of experience, most recently as chief information officer for The Timken Company.
• Cooper Standard has added Jim Zabriskie as its vice president of global tax and treasurer. He reports to Executive Vice President and CFO Jonathan Banas. Zabriskie brings more than 25 years of global treasury and finance experience, including nearly 16 years with Tenneco and Federal-Mogul, most recently as vice president and treasurer of Tenneco.
• DMA Sales LLC has added Doug Brown as its controller. Brown brings more than 20 years of leadership and finance experience to the company, most recently as the controller for PSI Molded Plastics.
News Briefs 5/18/20
• NGK Spark Plugs (U.S.A.) received the 2020 Advance Auto Parts Receivers Choice Award at the Automotive Content Professionals Network’s Knowledge Exchange virtual conference earlier this month.
• Mighty Auto Parts has launched an initiative to donate 100,000 oil filters by Sept. 15 to automotive professionals servicing front-line workers and others affected by the coronavirus pandemic, noting that many of these shops are already providing free or greatly discounted oil changes for these workers.
• German oil and additive specialist Liqui Moly has launched a digital advertising campaign aimed at generating 1 billion contacts in more than 100 countries targeting platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
• Wells Vehicle Electronics has rebranded its business unit that serves recreational, automotive, agricultural and industrial OEMs to Wells Engineered Products. The rebranding effort also includes a new website, wellsengineeredproducts.com.
• Gates Industrial Corp. has announced plans to donate more than $535,000 to support organizations responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
• ZF Aftermarket reported on May 13 that its technical training team has reached over 10,000 technicians and hosted more than 60 webinars for shops of all sizes over the previous six weeks.
• The Car Care Council offers free downloadable images that repair shops and parts stores can use to enhance their online presence and use in printed material.
• AirPro Diagnostics of Jacksonville, FL is now a corporate member of the Automotive Service Association (ASA). AirPro offers remote diagnostics and ADAS calibrations for collision shops. ASA corporate membership provides an opportunity for companies to expand their relationships with association members and leaders in the collision and mechanical repair segment of the auto care industry.
• Champion Oil (Clinton, MO), a racing and performance motor oils company, is now an associate member of the American Engine Builders Association. AERA serves as a technical resource and industry voice for internal combustion engine builders, remanufacturers, machine shops, OEMs, suppliers and service providers worldwide.
• DMA Sales has announced the launch of its new Sensen e-catalog, which includes a buyer’s guide and interchange tools.
• Standard Motor Products has launched SMP Cares, SMPCares.smpcorp.com, a website dedicated to highlighting the company’s efforts supporting local communities through service, volunteerism and donations.
• Koskowski Automotive (Fulton, NY) has joined ShowMeTheParts’ Buy Now Program.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 5/18/20
• The 2021 NAPA Expo has been scheduled for Feb. 1-4 in Las Vegas.
• The University of the Aftermarket has canceled its Heavy Duty Leadership program scheduled for July 12-17 because of issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.
• The North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) has canceled its 2020 conference and expo because of the coronavirus outbreak. The event was scheduled for July 20-23 in Covington, KY. The 2021 event will take place July 12-15 in the same location.
• MEMA will host a webinar May 21 on implementation of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA). The presentation will include an overview of milestones, a review of suppliers’ top priorities, and a discussion on what to expect in the agreement’s uniform regulations and other implementation instruments. Click here for additional information to register for the webinar.
• SEMA will host a Jumpstart Business Operations webinar May 19. Mike Brown, founder and CEO of the Brainzooming Group, will address pushing ahead with change while barriers are down. Click here for more information on this presentation.