Quick Hits …
(A few short items to get us started this week)
• Industry veteran Junior Calvert has joined Tri-State Enterprises (TSE), a Fort Smith, AR-based wholesale distributer of aftermarket auto parts and truck accessories, in a category and e-commerce management capacity. Calvert joins the company from Westin Automotive Products, where he most recently was director of national accounts.
• Sean Crawford is now the chief marketing officer at Holley Performance Products. Crawford was the president of JE Pistons. His background also includes time as the vice president of marketing and business development for Race Winning Brands.
• According to a recent SEMA eNews report, a survey of over 1,800 specialty-equipment industry professionals conducted May 20-29 reveals that more than 30% of the manufacturer, distributor and retailer respondents were experiencing “mostly business as usual” — up from 17% in early April. Additionally, the late May survey shows that nearly 90% of respondents were seeing either “mostly business as usual” or “impacted short term but will get through it.” Further, more than half of respondents believe that their fourth-quarter 2020 sales will be better or equal to last year.
• Massachusetts “Right to Repair” proponents have until Wednesday, June 17 to gather 20,000 signatures from registered voters in the state to get a referendum on the November ballot. Usually, the coalition would reach out to voters in public places and local repair shops; however, social distancing efforts have made this difficult, necessitating the need to collect signatures online. The “Right to Repair” initiative is backed by the Auto Care Association and the Coalition for Automobile Repair Equality (CARE).
Advance Auto Parts Sponsors NASCAR Weekly Series
Advance Auto Parts and NASCAR have inked a multiyear official partnership, designating Advance as the NASCAR Weekly Series entitlement sponsor. As part of the agreement, Advance also becomes the “Official Auto Parts Retailer of NASCAR.”
“It’s great to have Advance join us in welcoming the return of NASCAR-sanctioned grassroots racing,” said Ben Kennedy, vice president of racing development at NASCAR. “Advance’s commitment to our Weekly Series will develop some of the brightest NASCAR talent across North America. Advance has a long history in racing and we’re thrilled to see its expanded presence from the grassroots all the way through our national series.”
The NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series paused in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic but returned with sanctioned events at select tracks on June 6. The series runs at nearly 60 NASCAR-sanctioned tracks throughout the United States and Canada.
Veteran O’Reilly Executive Opens Post-Retirement Consulting Business
As someone who spent almost 32 years climbing the career ladder at O’Reilly Automotive, everyone expected Tom Seboldt to be more than happy to leave work behind when he retired in 2018.
But a year into his retirement, Seboldt, a former vice president of merchandising at O’Reilly, decided he wanted to do more than tend to his 260-acre farm outside of Springfield, MO. He wanted to give something back to the industry that had treated him so well.
He started Seboldt Consulting Services to offer his vast array of professional expertise in the automotive aftermarket to others in the industry. In a normal economic climate, the start of a new year would have been a good time to open a business. But, this year’s coronavirus-related lockdowns in the first quarter got things off to a slow start for Seboldt. In spite of that, he’s far from worried and expects things to pick up once businesses begin re-opening.
“I haven’t pushed too hard this spring because I knew nothing was going to happen,” Seboldt said. “But, when the COVID stuff passes, I will reach out to more people. I want to give people a chance to run their businesses because I know they are consumed with this situation right now.”
Seboldt’s business offers the following …
• Negotiation skills.
• A professional development plan to help get the next leaders ready.
• Advice on giving proper performance reviews and how to prepare for them.
• Supply chain efficiency and supply chain advice.
• Company or department structure advice.
• Help preparing for sales calls on retail or WD customers.
• New product feedback and advice.
• New packaging feedback and advice.
From his humble beginnings as an O’Reilly deliveryman, Seboldt worked his way up through the ranks and gained a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the company, thanks to its promote-from-within culture. “You learn the business from the ground floor up, and you can apply that in no matter what job you have,” Seboldt said of the O’Reilly culture. “It’s invaluable knowledge you have, and promoting from within still happens there today.”
Though he really doesn’t need to work in his retirement, Seboldt said he was encouraged by colleagues to start his consulting business after taking the role of president of CAWA last year.
“I talk to a lot of people (as CAWA president), and a lot of them told me ‘Hey, you know so much about the aftermarket and you have so much experience, you should consult.’ I didn’t plan to do that when I retired, but I figure if I can help some people be successful, then why not?” Seboldt said. “The automotive industry is something I still have a passion for and it’s been very good to me. Why not give something back?”
The fact that he held so many different positions at O’Reilly gives him knowledge and expertise in a number of areas, and he can recite an extensive list of capabilities that he brings to his consulting business.
“I can really do a lot of things,” Seboldt said. “I can help vendors, suppliers and WDs. I have tons of negotiating experience. I can help create development plans for individuals and departments. I’ve done a lot of performance reviews in my career, and I know how to give reviews so that you can help a team member achieve better growth.
“I can also lend advice on supply chain efficiency; our merchandise department was involved with that. I can help vendors and suppliers prep for sales calls. I have sat in that chair, and I know what questions will be asked. I also have looked at tens of thousands of products as one of O’Reilly’s first product managers. I can help people with what kind of products to select and promote.”
The overarching benefits Seboldt hopes clients can gain from working with him are two-fold: to operate more efficiently and to save money.
Seboldt will work with businesses of all sizes, and he said he plans to offer both remote and on-site consultations, depending on client needs. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling (417) 838-6776.
The Network, Auto Pride Grows In The Northwest
The Automotive Distribution Network has announced the signing of Evergreen Car Care to the Auto Pride brand. Located in Coburg, OR, Evergreen is a second-generation automotive WD specializing in automotive fluids, additives and equipment.
Established in 1977 by Ralph and Cheryl Fortuna as Fortuna Distributing, the original company grew to three locations serving southern Oregon. Specializing in OEM-quality parts and products, the company carried Motorcraft, ACDelco, 3M and many other OEM and aftermarket lines to service both new car dealers and the aftermarket.
Son Steve Fortuna and his wife, Louise, started Evergreen in 2009 as a separate fluids and equipment distributor. Evergreen services new car dealers and the aftermarket across southern and central Oregon, as well as the Boise, ID area, and Alaska. Evergreen also is a distributor of products from Wynn’s, an ITW Professional Automotive Products division.
Turn 14 Expands Inventory Levels, Warns Of Production Delays
Turn 14 Distribution, an aftermarket performance parts distributor based in Horsham, PA, on June 8 warned of a high number of backorders from manufacturers affected by the coronavirus pandemic along with measures the company has taken to bolster its on-hand inventory.
CEO Jon Pulli said Turn 14 prepared for its acquisition of Motovicity Distribution by bolstering on-hand inventory to support anticipated increased demand. “We’ve expanded our normal standing inventory levels by 50% to ensure that we have enough inventory on hand to satisfy customer requirements and also to cover production delays from manufacturers affected by COVID-19,” he said in the company’s June 8 advisory. “As of this writing, we have considerable backorders from the majority of our manufacturing partners totaling tens of millions of dollars in inventory waiting to be shipped to us.”
“The extremely high number of backorders before we acquired Motovicity Distribution was already a concern for our purchasing and sales staff. The resulting shelter-in-place orders throughout the U.S. and the world have seen supply shortages decimate our supply chain,” Pulli noted. “As a distributor committed to stocking inventory, we’ve taken extreme measures to ensure our customers and partners know that we are committed to supporting the industry and its rebound.”
Turn 14 Distribution reports that it and all three of its distribution centers have been fully operational during the coronavirus pandemic.
Driven Racing Oil Hires Sales, New Business Development Director
Kyle Fickler has joined Driven Racing Oil as its director of sales and new business development. He is tasked with overseeing sales, new business development, customer relations and training.
Fickler was the director of business development for Aeromotive Inc. His background also includes time as the vice president of sales and marketing for Weld Racing, two consecutive terms on the SEMA Board of Directors, chairman of the SEMA Motorsports Parts Manufacturer Council and a member of the NHRA Performance Aftermarket Advisory Council.
He is the current treasurer of SEMA.
Transtar Gets Into The PPE Business
Transtar Industries has launched a new dedicated business called CarSterilizer to sell personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies for shop and personal use. This includes gloves, masks, disinfectants, and seat and steering wheel covers.
Products are being offered exclusively through the e-commerce site, CarSterilizer.com. As a separate and distinct business, all sales and related product purchases are handled through the website and not through any Transtar sales representatives.
TPG Plastics Adds Face Shields To Lineup
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, TPG Plastics has been manufacturing and shipping face shields for State of Kentucky employees. The company now plans to introduce them to the aftermarket in two-packs with two additional replacement shields. This marks the first time in over 20 years that a new category has been created and shipped for the manufacturer of gas cans, oil pans and funnels.
GOJO Expands To Meet Increased Demand
GOJO Industries (Akron, OH) is expanding its capacity to produce Purell sanitizer, soap, wipes and surface spray. The company has signed a lease agreement for a facility in Navarre, OH that will be used for storage and distribution and purchased a 325,000-square-foot facility in Maple Heights, OH that will manufacture Purell Surface Spray.
The two facilities complement GOJO’s manufacturing plants in nearby Cuyahoga Falls and Wooster.
At the same time, GOJO is running its facilities around the clock, working with its partners to increase raw material and component supplies, and implementing agreements with other companies to source bottles and caps. According to the company, GOJO is producing more than two times what it did before the coronavirus pandemic started.
Garrett Announces Amendments To Credit Agreement
Garrett Motion on June 12 announced an agreement with the senior lenders under its credit agreement providing for covenant relief for as much as a two-year period through June 30, 2022. Additional information on the amended credit agreement is available here. Garrett reports that it has no significant debt maturities before September 2023.
In connection with this deal, Honeywell has withdrawn its notice of default, according to Garrett.
“Garrett believes that Honeywell’s action had no merit and was an improper attempt to interfere with Garrett’s contractual arrangements with its lenders and to delay Garrett’s ongoing litigation against Honeywell concerning a subordinated asbestos indemnity imposed on Garrett in connection with the 2018 spin-off,” the company stated in an announcement dated June 12. “Garrett has and will continue to take appropriate actions to defend itself against any of Honeywell’s attempts to interfere with Garrett’s operations as an independent company.”
Olivier Rabiller, Garrett’s president and CEO, is quoted as saying that the modifications to the company’s credit agreement significantly enhance Garrett’s financial flexibility to weather the current coronavirus pandemic-induced economic slowdown. “We appreciate the support of our lending group as we continue to take decisive actions to operate in this challenging environment,” Rabiller stated. “Going forward, our focus remains on ensuring the long-term financial health of our company while meeting customer commitments, supporting our local communities and safeguarding the health and well-being of our employees.
Rabiller also said: “While the successful completion of the bank amendment is an important step in Garrett Motion sustaining its liquidity, we will continue to explore further opportunities to optimize our capitalization to ensure that the business is positioned for success in an evolving environment. In particular, this crisis has exacerbated the challenges associated with operating under the onerous Honeywell subordinated indemnity and mandatory transition tax (MTT) liabilities and highlights the fact that the current situation with Honeywell continues to adversely impact our overall strategic and financial flexibility.”
As of March 31, 2020, the liability on Garrett’s balance sheet associated with Honeywell reportedly totaled $1.30 billion, including the subordinated indemnity liability, MTT payments and other related tax matters.
“Despite the near-term disruption across the automotive industry and global economy, it is important to remember that the positive long-term fundamentals of our business remain intact,” Rabiller said. “Garrett has excelled as an industry leader for over 65 years, delivering critical cutting-edge technologies to major automakers worldwide. Going forward, automakers will likely encounter even tougher regulations and technical challenges after the crisis, and Garrett will bring them a wide range of differentiated products and solutions.”
The Greensheet reached out to a representative from Honeywell for comment but received no response prior to publication.
Tri-State Enterprises Expands In The 12V Aftermarket
Tri-State Enterprises (TSE), a Fort Smith, AR-based wholesale distributer of aftermarket auto parts and truck accessories, has acquired O.W. Donald, a 12-volt aftermarket products distributor that specializes in audio products, remote starters, speakers and tint.
“OWD products and services allow the TSE organization to expand into new markets and, at the same time, continue to grow our current customer base with the addition of the 12-volt line,” commented Tristan Taylor, owner of TSE.
In related news, industry veteran Junior Calvert has joined TSE in a category and e-commerce management capacity. Calvert joins the company from Westin Automotive Products, where he most recently was director of national accounts.
Horizon Americas Reports 10.8% Rise In Aftermarket Sales For Q1
Horizon Global Corp. reported $163.25 million in net sales for the first quarter of 2020 — a decrease of 8.1% when compared to the same period a year ago. Adjusting for foreign currency translation, the company’s sales were down 6.9%.
Nonetheless, Horizon Global was able to increase its gross profit 11.4% to $26.25 million, with gross margin rising from 13.3% to 16.1% on a year-over-year basis. The company also was able to pare down its net loss, going from a loss of $25.62 million for the first quarter of 2019 down to a loss of $17.03 million for the first quarter of 2020.
AMERICAS … Horizon Americas reported $92.37 million in net sales — a decrease of $3.13 million (or 3.3%). Adjusting for foreign currency translation, sales decreased 3.1%. According to management, Horizon Americas began the quarter with strong performance, and segment operating results through February reflected strong demand for its products. However, results were negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, as Horizon Americas flexed down operations at its manufacturing and distribution facilities in line with customer demand and in accordance with government-mandated restrictions.
The company attributed Horizon Americas’ quarterly sales decrease to lower volumes — especially in the retail and industrial sales channels, as well as a $2.30-million increase in sales discounts, returns and allowances. This was only partially offset by higher aftermarket sales.
A closer look at the segment’s sales performance by sales channel shows …
• Aftermarket sales rose 10.8% to $26.77 million.
• Retail sales declined 17.1% to $23.57 million.
• Automotive OEM sales increased 0.6% to $20.36 million.
• E-commerce sales grew 6.1% to $12.51 million.
• Industrial sales decreased 15.4% to $7.85 million.
• Automotive OES sales fell 21.1% to $1.27 million.
Horizon Americas’ gross profit rose 9.5% to $19.62 million, with gross margin increasing from 18.8% to 21.2% on a year-over-year basis. The increase in gross profit margin reflects the aforementioned changes in sales, lower scrap costs and inventory reserves, as well as lower outbound freight costs.
Segment-operating profit climbed 282% to $2.73 million, with operating margin going from -1.6% to +3.0% on a year-over-year basis, primarily because of improved gross profit and lower SG&A expenses.
Horizon Americas’ adjusted EBITDA rose 340.3% to $6.12 million.
COMMENTARY … Horizon Global President and CEO Terry Gohl said the company delivered a strong year-over-year performance and generated positive operating cash flow in the quarter, despite the unfavorable impact of the pandemic on its business and economies around the globe.
“As we resume our global operations, we are focused on providing a safe and healthy workplace for our employees,” Gohl said. “During the relaunch of our business, we are carefully managing our liquidity in light of the continued macroeconomic uncertainty due to COVID-19. We will continue to flex our operations and partner with our supply chain to service our customers and meet market demand. Importantly, our business continues to improve every day as we aggressively pursue our operational improvement initiatives in 2020.”
Gohl added: “We expect this unprecedented global pandemic to have an ongoing effect on our business and customer demand patterns, which will result in a continued impact on Horizon Global’s financial results in 2020. Due to these uncertain macroeconomic conditions, we are proactively preserving liquidity and managing our variable and support cost structure to allow for operating flexibility, while continuing to execute on our operational improvement initiatives that will support cash flow generation and drive near- and long-term value for our employees, customers and shareholders.”
4WP Stores Collecting Items To Help Local Schools
Noting that the 2019-20 school year “didn’t quite end the way we all expected” because of the coronavirus pandemic, 4 Wheel Parts plans to help local schools before the start of the 2020-21 academic year. Donation tables were set up June 12-13 at all 95 4WP stores across the United States where customers could drop off backpacks, pencils, notebooks and other classroom supplies. In addition to the items collected, 4 Wheel Parts will make donations to local charities.
Obituary: Matt Robbins, Auto Care Association Director Of Government Affairs
Matt Robbins, former director of government affairs for the Auto Care Association, died May 27 after a lengthy illness. He was 49.
Robbins was a longtime political advocate and consultant for many corporate, nonprofit, association and government clients. He helped manage several political campaigns throughout his career, including the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008 as a regional coalitions director for the Mid-Atlantic states.
He came to the Auto Care Association in 2017 and was a lobbyist and watchdog in Washington, D.C. for the automotive aftermarket. President and CEO Bill Hanvey said Robbins touched many lives and noted his work with the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) as one of his significant achievements.
“His footprint was not only in the U.S. but around the world with his work for ACYPL,” Hanvey said. “He was a strong advocate for young men and women to get involved politically.”
Robbins’ many years in politics created strong connections that were beneficial in his role at the association, Hanvey said. “He had a good relationship with staff on the (Capitol) Hill,” Hanvey recalled. “He certainly had good contacts and knew the political system. His primary experience is in campaign management, which was something new for us in terms of his expertise and that really made a difference.”
Hanvey said another thing that stood out about Robbins was his close relationship with his young daughter, Lily. “He was absolutely dedicated to his daughter,” Hanvey recalled. “It was so heartfelt. He talked about her all the time. He would often talk in the lunchroom about his trips to Disney or going to a princess party with her.”
Robbins was a graduate of West Memphis Christian School and Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. He also was political director for the California Republican Party and served as director of training at The Leadership Institute. He was perhaps best known as national executive director of American Majority, where he taught more than 40,000 candidates how to run campaigns.
“Matt was a great guy; everyone loved talking to him,” said Aaron Lowe, the Auto Care Association’s senior vice president for regulatory and governmental affairs. “He was very well-connected from his years in politics, and he knew key policymakers on Capitol Hill.”
Lowe said Robbins was part of the association’s six-member lobbying team and worked on a variety of issues, initiatives and policy for the automotive aftermarket.
Friends of Robbins created a GoFundMe page to help defray his medical costs. To date, donations have reached over $22,000. His memorial service, which was held earlier this month in his native Arkansas, can be viewed here.
Virtual Auto Export Expo To Debut Later This Month
The U.S. Commercial Service, the export promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce, will host Back 2 Business, a virtual business-to-business auto expo June 29 to July 17. The event is designed to connect U.S. automotive exporters with pre-screened international buyers and potential partners that U.S. embassy and consulate staff members have recruited around the world.
Pre-screened international buyers will participate from a number of countries, including Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam.
Additionally, U.S. exporters will have the opportunity to request virtual meetings with U.S. embassy diplomats and auto industry experts to gain intelligence and learn about market developments in each country.
The deadline to register is June 29. Space is limited.
Sustainable Manufacturing Days Kicks Off June 15
The Association for Sustainable Manufacturing’s (MERA) Sustainable Manufacturing Days event, taking place the afternoons of June 15-16, will include a core supply market town hall presentation with the following panelists …
• Ronn Carr, owner of ACE/MCI Commodities.
• Bob Grady, president of Rebuilders Automotive Supply (RAS).
• Justin Greenberg, CEO of DieselCore.
• Derek McWhorter, president of River City Truck Parts.
• Jay Robie, CEO of Phoenix Automotive Cores.
• Al Wilkie, former general manager of LKQ Best Automotive.
Sustainable Manufacturing Days also will include a customer leadership session with Mark Finestone, executive vice president of merchandising, marketing and supply chain at AutoZone Inc.; a “State of the Automotive Aftermarket” briefing by Rex Green, global co-head of automotive aftermarket investment banking with Jefferies LLC; and an interactive roundtable discussion on topics and issues in the remanufacturing industry. Click here for more information on the event.
Independent Repair Shops Are Reducing Staff, Cutting Pay Due To Pandemic
More than half (54.6%) of independent auto repair shops have made staff reductions and 86.8% have instituted pay reductions in response to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and related stay-at-home orders, according to an IMR Inc. survey of 500 independent automotive repair shops conducted May 4-29.
According to the survey, 80% of shops with eight or more bays reduced staff in contrast with 46.2% for shops that have one to three bays and 52.8% for shops with four to seven bays. Rural shops reported the largest staff reductions at 57.9%, followed by suburban at 53.7% and urban at 49.5%.
Meanwhile, 92.6% of suburban shops reported a reduction in staff pay or shop hours, compared to 86.0% for urban shops and 84.2% for rural shops. By size, 92.7% of shops with four to seven bays cut hours or pay, followed by 89.2% of shops with eight or more bays and 69.7% for shops with one to three bays.
Performant Capital Creates Vehicle Repair Marketing Platform
Performant Capital has acquired MyShopManager and uNotifi, SaaS providers of marketing automation software and services primarily for independent repair shops and dealer service centers. They mark the first transactions completed by Performant Capital since its launch earlier this year. The Chicago-based lower middle-market private equity firm focuses on investments in technology companies.
Financial terms of the transactions were not disclosed.
MyShopManager provides marketing automation for independent repair shops seeking to increase customer acquisition and retention using email, pay-per-click (PPC), text messaging or SMS, and direct mail. The company is located in Tampa.
Houston-based uNotifi provides a cloud-based customer relationship management platform designed to increase the marketing performance of dealer service departments and automotive service centers. It works to identify vehicle owners’ communication tendencies and preferences in order to reduce redundant messages.
MyShopManager and uNotifi have been combined to form Dealer Holdings but will continue to operate independently under their respective brands.
Mike Ciaglia, a partner at Performant Capital, said the businesses are highly complementary. “By joining forces, we are creating a platform that significantly expands on the capabilities of both businesses, enabling us to better meet the needs of Dealer Holdings’ clients in the automotive services sector,” Ciaglia said. “Both businesses have a proven track record of success with experienced management teams and strong core values centered around delivering superior customer service. We are excited about what this partnership will bring to Dealer Holdings.”
RF Investment Partners provided first-lien debt and an equity co-investment to support the acquisition and integration of MyShopManager and uNotifi. RF Investment Partners provides capital to support domestic, lower middle-market companies.
RepairSmith Expands Its Mobile Fleet Service In Northern California
RepairSmith has acquired the More Automotive Group, a provider of mobile repair and maintenance services for fleets, property managers and corporate office parks in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area. This includes oil changes, filter and wiper blade replacements, tire rotations, brake and suspension repairs, and check-engine-light diagnostics. Concierge service to off-site repair facilities also is available for more complex work.
More Automotive services thousands of vehicles annually, according to RepairSmith, which will now serve all More Automotive locations and fleets.
With the acquisition, RepairSmith adds location-based mobile service availability for property managers and corporate office parks. The service-line expansion builds on RepairSmith’s at-home service launched in 2019 and complements its new fleet service.
The move also expands RepairSmith’s mobile service vehicle fleet with the inclusion of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cab Chassis vehicles outfitted with oil handling equipment and tire machines to allow high-volume oil changes, preventive services, and on-site tire replacement and tire balancing.
Now, RepairSmith technicians drive custom-outfitted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Mercedes-Benz Metris or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cab Chassis vehicles that are equipped with the tools and parts needed to deliver a range of services. All RepairSmith techs are employees of the company.
“I’m excited to bring new equipment and services to those who have worked with More Automotive for years,” said Tim Kennedy, former owner of More Automotive and now RepairSmith’s vice president of fleet sales. “RepairSmith’s fleet is one of a kind and expands our diagnostic capabilities, digital tools and tire services.”
“Teaming up with More Automotive Group is part of our strategic vision to become the most convenient automotive service company,” said Felix-Matthias Walter, chief commercial officer at RepairSmith.
RepairSmith operates delivery and drop-off services across all major metropolitan areas in California, as well as Las Vegas and Phoenix.
Openbay Otis Integrates With TireShop
Openbay Inc. has announced an integration between its AI-powered online chat platform, Otis, and TireShop, a tire, automotive repair and quick-lube shop management system from Freedomsoft of Asheboro, NC.
The combination means that from within a chat window on an automotive service provider’s website, consumers can view available time slots, book appointments and receive appointment confirmations at any time without manual intervention. For motorists, they get an end-to-end, self-service experience. For shops, they can fill their service bays based on available capacity.
U.S. Army To Introduce ASE Military Credentials
ASE is partnering with the U.S. Army Ordnance School to introduce a series of tests for U.S. Army personnel. Successful completion of the tests, plus an experience requirement will result in ASE military technician credentials for qualified candidates.
The series of 11 competency tests will focus on the maintenance, diagnosis and repair of systems found on military tactical-wheeled vehicles and will include …
• A single entry-level test and credential for soldiers who have completed Advanced Individual Training and meet the requirements.
• Seven intermediate-level tests for soldiers with a minimum of two years of experience.
• Three advanced-level tests covering advanced diagnosis and repair.
The U.S. Army Ordnance School will administer the entry-level test. The intermediate and advanced tests will be administered at Prometric test centers. Soldiers will earn promotion points for successful completion of tests and will be able to use the credentialing assistance program to pay for ASE registration and test fees.
Development of the tests will begin this summer and most tests should be available in 2021, according to ASE.
“We are honored to partner with the United States Army and offer these tests that help expand the automotive service education of these outstanding men and women,” said ASE President and CEO Tim Zilke. “As soldiers increase their knowledge and skill in order to achieve certification, the Army hopes to improve both fleet vehicle readiness and soldier retention.
“The credentials will serve as a measure of confidence for private-sector employers as soldiers transition to civilian jobs, validating their trainability and knowledge of vehicle system fundamentals and diagnostic procedures.”
Superior Industries Runs Afoul Of NYSE Continued-Listing Standards
Superior Industries International, a Southfield, MI-based aluminum wheel supplier to OEMs and the European aftermarket, on June 5 received notice from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) that the company is not in compliance with continued listing standards. This is because, at the time, Superior Industries’ average global market capitalization over a consecutive 30 trading-day period was less than $50 million and its shareholders’ equity was less than $50 million.
The notice has no immediate impact on the listing of the company’s common stock, does not affect Superior’s ongoing business operations or its reporting obligations with the SEC, and does not conflict with or cause an event of default under any of the company’s debt or other agreements, according to a June 9 announcement from Superior.
The company intends to submit a business plan within 45 days designed to demonstrate its ability to resume compliance with continued listing standards. Upon receipt of the plan, the NYSE will have as many as 45 days to review and determine whether Superior has made a reasonable demonstration of its ability to conform with standards.
If the NYSE accepts the company’s plan, Superior would be subject to ongoing quarterly monitoring for compliance with the plan and have as many as 18 months from July 1, 2020, to demonstrate compliance. If the plan is not accepted — or if the company fails to maintain compliance with the plan — Superior would be subject to delisting proceedings.
“The company remains confident in its business prospects and liquidity position, and believes that it will successfully resume compliance with the NYSE’s continued listing standards,” Superior stated in a press release dated June 9. “For reference, the market capitalization of the company was above $50 million prior to the stock market decline triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and, as of the close of business on June 8, 2020, Superior’s market capitalization was $54 million.”
Recochem Expands Its Operations Into U.S. Via Acquisition
Montreal-based Recochem has acquired Adam’s Polishes and its production company, B&B Blending. Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.
Adam’s Polishes is a formulator, blender and marketer of specialty car care products — including shampoos, cleaners, protectors, polishes and ceramic coatings – for the exterior and interior surfaces of cars, trucks, RVs and boats. Based in Boulder, CO, Adam’s Polishes is a direct-to-consumer marketing company that reaches customers through its own website and Amazon, supported by extensive social media interaction.
Now, Adam’s Polishes and B&B are subsidiaries of Recochem. They are the Canadian company’s first operations in the United States. The acquired companies’ technical efforts are seen as supplementing Recochem’s technology and its recently acquired Auto-Chem R&D team.
Vipar Heavy Duty Adds E-Commerce Platform To Partsphere
Vipar Heavy Duty has expanded its Partsphere business-to-business suite with the launch of CxCommerce, a digital commerce system developed by PhaseZero. The technology is designed to streamline and accelerate product orders and information sharing between distributors and their customers.
The CxCommerce platform offers customers real-time inventory and pricing information, allowing them to purchase products online in addition to traditional counter or call-in service. Features include product catalog integration, product search and interchange, real-time inventory, online parts ordering, promotions management and data integration.
“Our product information management system, Partsphere PIM, integrates with CxCommerce to provide a robust digital commerce solution that increases efficiencies while helping customers more easily find and source the products and information they need,” said Jeff Paul, vice president of marketing for Vipar Heavy Duty.
Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems Completes
R.H. Sheppard Deal
Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems has completed its $149.50-million acquisition of the R.H. Sheppard Company, a Hanover, PA-based manufacturer of steering systems for commercial vehicles in the North American market. The transaction involves the entire Sheppard business, including Sheppard’s branded products, manufacturing facilities, sales and service operations, and its interest in joint ventures related to supply and manufacturing.
Sheppard is now an operating unit of Bendix, which retains use of the Sheppard brand name. Bendix President and CEO Mike Hawthorne called the move an opportunity to offer a more comprehensive range of products, performance and expertise.
“Adding Sheppard to our business is evidence of our continued commitment to offer products and services that help improve highway safety and advance the path of expanded driver assistance systems, automated driving systems and enhanced vehicle performance available through system integration,” Hawthorne said. “Sheppard has been an integral partner with its commercial vehicle customers in identifying opportunities and designing products to meet their challenges. They’ve built a well-earned reputation based on over eight decades of steering technology development and manufacturing experience.”
Elyria, OH-based Bendix is a North American subsidiary of Knorr-Bremse, a German supplier of braking systems and other technology for commercial vehicles and the rail industry.
Bendix and Knorr-Bremse acquired Sheppard from WABCO Holdings in connection with ZF Friedrichshafen’s acquisition of WABCO.
ZF Completes WABCO Transaction
ZF Friedrichshafen has completed its acquisition of the commercial vehicle technology supplier WABCO, which will become an independent division within ZF Friedrichshafen called Commercial Vehicle Control Systems.
The new division employs approximately 12,000 people at 45 locations worldwide. It will work closely with ZF’s existing Commercial Vehicle Technology division, ZF’s Aftermarket division and the global development team.
Jacques Esculier, chairman and CEO of WABCO, has decided to retire from his role, according to ZF. The division is now led by Fredrik Staedtler, who was head of ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Technology division.
Donaldson, Nelson Terminate Planned Exhaust And Emissions Deal
Nelson Global Products’ planned purchase of the Donaldson Company’s exhaust and emissions (E&E) business has been terminated by “mutual agreement,” the companies announced June 5. The transaction would have included Donaldson’s dedicated E&E sales and engineering functions, production facilities and lab capabilities.
“While we are disappointed the acquisition of our E&E business by Nelson will not be completed, we remain focused on our employees, customers and suppliers,” said Tod Carpenter, the chairman, president and CEO of Donaldson. “Our E&E business is defined by an incredibly talented team, robust engineering capabilities and strong customer relationships. We remain committed to delivering quality emissions products in parallel with ongoing optimization efforts to ensure our business portfolio creates long-term value for our stakeholders.”
“Since 2010, Nelson has successfully completed eight acquisitions and continues to pursue opportunities that expand our product lines, technology and geographic footprint,” said Nelson CEO Steve Scgalski.
The E&E business contributed roughly $120 million in revenue to Donaldson’s engine products segment in fiscal 2019.
EnerSys Announces Changes To Board Of Directors
Longstanding board members John Lehman and Dennis Marlo are retiring from the EnerSys board of directors, effective at the July stockholders meeting. Their retirement follows corporate governance guidelines which state that no director may stand for re-election after age 75.
Lehman and Marlo — who have been directors since EnerSys’ initial public offering in 2004 — will be replaced by Caroline Chan and Steve Fludder. Chan is a vice president and general manager of the network business incubator division of Intel Corp. Fludder is the CEO of NEC Energy Solutions.
People Watching 6/15/20
• Hankook Tire America Corp. has named Curtis Brison as its U.S. passenger car and light truck sales vice president. Brison brings roughly 15 years of experience in the tire and automotive sectors, most recently as vice president of sales and marketing for the Transportation Americas group at Exide Technologies.
• Garrett Motion Inc. has announced that Sean Deason will take over as its CFO effective June 30. Deason was the finance chief of WABCO Holdings. He succeeds Peter Bracke, who has been interim CFO of Garrett since September. Bracke will remain with the company in the newly created position of chief transformation officer.
• Haldex North America has named Matt Resch as its vice president of OEM and fleet sales, succeeding Dan Debord, who has left the company. Resch’s appointment is in addition to his current duties for OEM truck sales. Resch has been with Haldex for 18 years.
• Caterina Pontoriero has joined the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA) as its manager of marketing communications and member engagement. She was a multimedia content producer for the Global Bankers Insurance Group.
News Briefs 6/15/20
• GPC Asia Pacific has opened the first NAPA Auto Parts branch in New Zealand. Additionally, NAPA Auto Parts’ Asia Pacific unit opened three new NAPA Auto Parts locations in Australia in May.
• Michelin North America is launching a line of serpentine drive belts, along with matching idlers and tensioners, through Amazon. Michelin’s new power transmission products are exclusively manufactured under license by Steigentech and distributed in the United States and Canada by International Brake Industries.
• Turn 14 Distribution has added Icon Vehicle Dynamics’ high-performance truck, SUV and off-road suspension components, as well as Icon Alloys aluminum wheels, to its line card.
• Motor State Distributing now carries coil-over-shock kits and components from Aldan American, as well as products from ICT Billet.
• High-performance Centerforce clutches are now available at American Powertrain of Cookeville, TN.
• The Auto Care Association’s Import Vehicle Community is now accepting nominations for its 2020 People Awards as well as entries for its 2020 Import Product & Marketing Awards program and showcases at AAPEX. For more information, visit autocare.org/import-vehicle-community and click on the “Awards” tab.
• Strickland Brothers 10 Minute Oil Change has landed its second franchisee in Texas. Mike and Diane Balliet plan to open the first of their three sites in the area around Conroe, TX, and marks Strickland’s second franchisee in the state.
• According to Universal Technical Institute (UTI), it has begun distributing $17.60 million in Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund stimulus grants to more than 10,000 students training for careers as technicians, welders and CNC machinists. The grants are intended to help students impacted by the coronavirus pandemic with such expenses as food, housing, childcare, transportation and technology.
• The latest software release of ProDemand auto repair information from Mitchell 1 includes a new quick link for tire information and lifting points.
• Stertil-Koni has landed a four-year contract with Sourcewell, the government procurement organization formerly known as NJPA. The deal, which runs through April 2024, is for vehicle lifts with garage and fleet maintenance equipment.
• Standard Motor Products has announced that an updated SMP Parts App is now available for download via the App Store and Google Play. New features include a keyword search function and a tool that gives users access to their search history for frequently searched items. For more information, visit smpcorp.com/partsapp.
• Preferred Components Inc. (PCI) has added a VIN-search function to the online parts lookup system on its website.
• Snap-on has added an online vehicle coverage guide to its website.
Financial Briefs 6/15/20
• U.S. Auto Parts Network, the Universal Technical Institute (UTI), VOXX International Corp. and XPEL Inc. are being added to the Russell 3000 Index, a measurement of the largest 3,000 companies in the entire investable U.S. equity universe. The index is designed to measure the performance of the top 98% of the U.S. equity market, including the large-, mid-, and small-cap segments.
• In an operational update dated June 9, the Penske Automotive Group reported that all of its U.S. automotive retail dealership sales and service operations were open. Shelter-in-place orders impacted its service and parts operations in April, driving a 52% decline in gross profit when compared to April 2019. In May, business conditions began improving, according to management. Service and parts gross profit decreased 39% on a year-over-year basis but increased 28% sequentially from April 2020 to May 2020.
• Lithia Motors on June 2 reported that same-store service, body and parts sales declined roughly 27% in May, which management referred to as “signs of recovery” as states have begun to ease some coronavirus-related shelter-in-place orders. As of March 31, 2020, Medford, OR-based Lithia operated 189 dealerships representing 30 brands across 20 states.
• The Donaldson Company reported $301.90 million in aftermarket sales from its engine products segment for the three months ended April 30, 2020 — a decrease of $25.80 million (or 11.7%) compared to the same period a year ago. According to management, the segment’s aftermarket performance was mixed by region and sales channel, with the independent channel recording the most significant decline, attributable to an oil and gas slowdown in the United States as well as economic pressure across Latin America. This was only partially offset by year-over-year growth in eastern Europe and China tied to share gains in emerging markets.
• The Oil-Dri Corp. of America board of directors has declared quarterly cash dividends of $0.26 per share of its common stock and $0.195 per share of its Class B stock — a 4% increase for both classes of stock. The dividends will be payable Aug. 28 to stockholders of record at the close of business Aug. 14. The company has paid cash dividends continuously since 1974, and this marks the 17th consecutive year Oil-Dri has increased dividends.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 6/15/20
• The Auto Care Association’s Import Vehicle Community recently hosted a Coffee and Conversation presentation featuring Dan Duneske of Robert Bosch and Nick Bauer of FCP Euro discussing shifts in consumer buying behavior during the coronavirus pandemic and related shelter-in-place orders. The conversation also addressed factors to consider for businesses starting or scaling up their e-commerce platforms, as well as e-commerce trends in the automotive aftermarket and impacts over the next few years. Click here to listen.
• AASA and Intertek will host a webinar Thursday, June 18 on the process for obtaining CAPA certification and approval for use in collision repair by car insurers. Click here for more information on the presentation.
• Because of uncertainty regarding social-distancing restrictions in California, the 2020 SEMA Installation Gala has been moved to Aug. 25 in Las Vegas immediately following the SEMA Show Exhibitor Summit. The gala will recognize incoming and outgoing board members, as well as this year’s SEMA Hall of Fame honorees.
• Because of the coronavirus pandemic, HDA Truck Pride will host its 2020 Annual Shareholders Meeting & Trade Show as a virtual event the week of Aug. 25. It will include a variety of speakers, networking opportunities and a booth show that will remain open for 30 days after the event.