Quick Hits …
(A few short items to get us started this week)
• On July 22, executives from Standard Motor Products (SMP) rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in recognition of SMP’s 100th anniversary.
• Meyer Distributing (Jasper, IN) has announced the addition of Dorman Products to its lineup — a move that Meyer says helps it build out its automotive parts profile and deepen its pool of repair parts.
• TI Automotive has achieved platinum status with the SEMA Data Co-Op.
From Service Executive …
• Midas Promotes Will Helton To VP/GM
• Monro Reports Record Sales, Margin Expansion
• Monro Expanding Again In Louisiana, California
• Leeds West Groups Enters Texas Market Via Partnership
• Greenbriar Acquires Lamb’s Tire & Automotive Centers
• BUKL Launching New Tire Service
• NuBrakes Expanding On-Demand Service Into Houston, Chicago
• UTI Launches ‘Early Employment’ Initiative At Arizona Campus
100 Years For Crow-Burlingame
Arkansas-based Crow-Burlingame, one of the largest Bumper-to-Bumper affiliates in the United States, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Crow-Burlingame operates 177 company-owned locations and three warehouses across Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. The company serves an additional 160 independently owned auto parts stores.
Unusual Spring Weather Weighed On O’Reilly’s Q2 Sales, Store Openings
Despite a generally cool and rainy spring, O’Reilly Automotive came through with $353.68 million in net income for the second quarter of 2019 — an increase of $608,000, or 0.2%, compared to the previous year.
Gross profit increased 6.2% to $1.37 billion, while gross margin grew from 52.5% a year ago to 52.8% for the three months ended June 30, 2019. Sales increased 5.4% to a record $2.59 billion.
Comparable-store sales rose 3.4%, which was at the lower end of management’s guidance calling for 3% to 5% growth, as unseasonably cool and rainy weather across many markets was a headwind to summer, heat-related categories. Adverse weather also caused significant delays in construction and new store openings, resulting in lower-than-expected non-comparable store sales volume for the quarter.
On the company’s July 25 earnings conference call, CEO and Co-President Greg Johnson said the quarter started off well, but demand slowed in May and June. However, the company didn’t experience any negative months or weeks during the quarter.
“Typically, we see a seasonal increase during these months in heat-related categories, such as air conditioning and refrigerants. However, with the unseasonably cool and rainy weather in many of our markets in May and June, we experienced sluggish demands in these categories,” Johnson noted. “Excluding the headwinds we saw on these categories, we continued to see solid demand in both sides of our business, in line with our expectations, and are pleased with the performance of key undercar hard parts categories, including brakes, ride control and chassis.”
INFLATION & TARIFFS … Johnson said both the DIY and professional sides of the business contributed positively to O’Reilly’s comp growth in the quarter, with professional the stronger contributor. “In aggregate, comparable-store sales gains continued to be driven by increased average ticket, as a result of continued increasing parts complexity and inflation,” he explained. “Comparable ticket counts for the quarter were flat, with solid growth on the professional side offset by a pressure to the DIY ticket counts consistent with recent trends, as customers on this side of the business remain more susceptible to rising prices.”
Analysts with Jefferies LLC wrote in a July 25 report on O’Reilly that tariff inflation favors DIFM consumers and that low-end DIYers will likely pursue deferrals and trade downs. “With the implementation of an additional 15% tariff in mid-June, it’s likely the gap between DIFM outperformance over the DIY segment expands. As seen with prior rounds of tariffs, the company plans to pass through cost inflation to customers, which is likely to adversely affect the more price-sensitive DIY customers who may defer vehicle maintenance or trade down,” analysts Bret Jordan, Mark Jordan and Ethan Huntley wrote. “Moving forward, we expect the DIFM ticket count will be relatively unaffected by tariff inflation … while the DIY ticket count could remain pressured.”
On the call, Johnson stated: “On a year-over-year basis, we experienced product acquisition inflation driven by tariffs and other input cost increases passed on from our suppliers. As has been the historical practice in our industry, these acquisition cost increases have been rationally passed through to increased pricing. During mid-June, the additional round of 15% tariffs went into effect, and we anticipate the related acquisition price increases will be passed along in selling price. However, we expect the incremental benefit in same-SKU pricing will likely be offset by pressure to ticket counts and good/better/best product mix headwinds.”
EXPANSION DELAYS … In the second quarter, O’Reilly opened 43 net new stores across 15 states, bringing its year-to-date store openings up to 105. This had the company well behind the planned schedule for new store openings in 2019. “This shortfall was the result of the significant level of precipitation we saw in markets with new store projects in development,” Co-President and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Shaw told analysts. “Consistent with our approach in previous years, our projected calendar for new store openings is more heavily weighted toward the front half of the year, which affords us the opportunity to put a new team in place and let them get their feet underneath them before entering the busy summer season.
“We are accustomed to seeing and adjusting to delays for any number of reasons, including weather, and typically would not have a material impact to our overall schedule. Unfortunately, the wet weather in 2019 has been widespread and persistent enough on a week-to-week basis that it has delayed many projects for extended periods of time and has impacted our overall schedule significantly.”
As noted previously, this delay created top-line pressure in the second quarter that will persist as the company catches up in the back half of the year. However, management remains confident that O’Reilly will achieve its goal of opening at least 200 net new stores this year.
GUIDANCE … “With the more-normal summer weather we’ve experienced thus far in the quarter, we are off to a solid start in the third quarter and are establishing our third-quarter comparable-store sales guidance at 3% to 5%,” Johnson said on the call. “Based on the first-half performance and our unchanged expectations for the demand conditions in our industry, we are maintaining our full-year comparable-store sales guidance of 3% to 5%.”
Management is leaving its full-year gross margin guidance unchanged at 52.7% to 53.2% of sales. “We remain confident that margins will remain rational in our industry, as the nondiscretionary nature and immediacy of need of the parts we sell affords us and our competitors significant pricing power,” CFO Tom McFall said on the call.
The company continues to expect 2019 total revenue to come in between $10 billion and $10.30 billion.
ADDITIONAL INFO … A few other items of interest from O’Reilly’s second quarter financial results conference call …
• Shaw said the company is on schedule with the development of its three DC projects: new facilities in Twinsburg, OH (Cleveland area); Lebanon, TN (Nashville area); and Horn Lake, MS (Memphis area). Twinsburg is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2019, followed by Lebanon in the first half of 2020 and Horn Lake in the second half of 2020.
• Inventory per store at the end of the quarter was $610,000 — down slightly from the beginning of the year and up 1.6% from this time last year. Management expects O’Reilly to grow per-store inventory in the range of 2% to 2.5% this year because of acquisition cost increases and the anticipated fourth quarter opening of the Twinsburg DC, which puts pressure on the growth percentage.
• During the second quarter, the company completed the conversion of 20 Bennett Auto Supply stores acquired at the end of 2018 and merged the remaining five stores into existing O’Reilly locations. — Marc Vincent
AJW Veteran Sid Dooley Is Retiring
National Performance Warehouse/National Auto Parts Warehouse (NPW) has announced the retirement of Sid Dooley, who has been general manager of the former Associate Jobbers Warehouse (AJW) Boaz, AL distribution center since 2005.
An industry veteran of some 40 years, Dooley has been highly involved in leadership roles with a number of groups, including AWDA. In 2014, he received Federated Auto Parts’ highest honor, the Art Fisher Memorial Membership Award, which honors Federated members for their dedication through leadership and support of the group’s programs.
“Sid is an icon of the company here in Boaz,” said NPW President and CEO Larry Pacey. “He has hired and mentored most of the staff and has left us with many talented people he trained. We cannot thank him enough for his leadership and insights, and wish him all the best in his retirement. He will be missed.”
Advance Touts New Rewards Program
Advance Auto Parts has launched a new Speed Perks rewards program. Customers who sign up for Speed Perks in stores, online or by text can start earning $5 in “Perks Bucks” after spending as little as $40 online or at any Advance Auto Parts and company-owned Carquest store in the United States. “Perks Bucks” can be used to purchase any of the items offered in store or online.
The company offers customers three Speed Perks membership levels: club, VIP and elite. Customers who spend as much as $200 in a calendar year will earn rewards at the club level, including 10 points for every $1 spent. Customers who spend between $200 and $500 in a calendar year will earn rewards at the VIP level, including 11 points for every $1 spent. Customers spending $500 or more in a calendar year will earn rewards at the elite level, including 12.5 points for every $1 spent.
Additionally, VIP and elite members’ points never expire, and they receive bonus points for referrals. Elite members also have access to exclusive events, experiences and product samples, as well as priority customer call support.
Accessories Captured 1/3 Of All Auto Aftermarket Online Dollar Sales
Online dollar sales of automotive accessories — including appearance accessories, cargo management, exterior accessories, interior accessories, towing and hitch products, and tire and wheel accessories — grew 26% in the 12 months ended April 2019, according to The NPD Group’s Checkout E-commerce Tracking. Additionally, 34% of online dollar volume during the same time period resulted from sales within these six accessory categories.
“Online accessory sales are seeing gains, as the e-commerce channel is able to offer an expansive selection that can be challenging for retailers to match or maintain in brick-and-mortar locations,” Nathan Shipley, executive director and automotive industry analyst for NPD, said in a July 25 announcement. “Accessories are also not typically required as urgently, whereas a replacement car battery may drive a consumer in-store for same-day purchase.”
According to the Checkout data, more than half of consumers that made an automotive aftermarket purchase online bought an automotive accessory. In fact, many of the accessory categories are seeing double-digit online sales gains with appearance accessories up 56%, interior accessories up 32% and exterior accessories up 31%.
While pure-play online retailers are capturing the greatest share of automotive accessories e-commerce sales, NPD points out that traditional retailers remain in the mix as they work to replicate their in-store sales strengths through web-based offerings.
“Consumers continue to move purchases of hard-to-find items — such as application-specific automotive accessories — online,” Shipley stated. “While pure-play ‘etailers’ own the lion’s share of sales in these categories, there is opportunity for traditional brick-and-mortar stores to remain competitive by creating user-friendly web experiences while also offering a variety of accessories, competitively priced and available to ship. In-store pick-up options — convenient for the consumer — may also help keep foot traffic in the stores for the purchase of automotive accessories that are not time sensitive.”
SMP Reports Solid Gains In Sales, Margins, Earnings
Standard Motor Products (SMP) came through with $19.43 million in net earnings for the second quarter of 2019 — an increase of 21.9% over the prior-year period, as consolidated gross profit rose 9.4% to $88.91 million and consolidated gross margin grew from 28.4% to 29.1% on a year-over-year basis.
The company’s consolidated net sales rose 6.5% to $305.17 million. Excluding sales from the acquisition of Pollak, SMP’s consolidated net sales were up 2.7%.
“We are very pleased with the quarter,” President and CEO Eric Sills said on the company’s July 25 quarterly report conference call. “Both divisions performed quite well, posting strong sales and profits, and this reflects recovery from some of our recent short-term challenges previously discussed and positive momentum from our various initiatives.”
ENGINE MANAGEMENT … The Engine Management division reported $218.04 million in revenue for the quarter — an increase of 7.2% compared to the previous year. Ignition, emission control and safety-related system product revenue rose 11.9% to $181.83 million, while wire and cable revenue declined 11.6% to $36.21 million.
Sills called the division’s sales strong overall. “Our wire and cable business continues to track downward, reflecting the ongoing decline of the product category. However, excluding wire, the rest of the Engine Management business was up almost 12% in the quarter — a gain of almost $20 million,” he told analysts on the call. “There are a few components here. First, and the largest, is the contribution from our recent acquisition of the Pollak business. This deal closed on April 1, so we had it for the entire quarter. It contributed more than half of the entire gain.”
Excluding the Pollak acquisition sales, Engine Management sales (without wire) were up 5.3%, reflecting a balance of organic unit volume growth and the benefits of pricing and tariffs.
“This strong performance is a combination of a few elements. First, we enjoyed strong demand within our OE business. That said, this segment can be somewhat volatile, and, while the first half has been favorable, we expect a slight softening for the second half,” Sills said. “Secondly, as previously stated, we have been passing through tariffs and have also achieved some nominal price increases. Beyond that, ongoing aftermarket demand is keeping pace with our expected low-single-digit growth. Our customer sell-through in the quarter was also up in the low-single digits, tracking with their purchases.”
Engine Management gross margin increased from 28.4% to 29.3% on a year-over-year basis. Sills told analysts that much of this improvement came from achieving historic productivity in its wire plant in Mexico. “To remind you, we spent the last several quarters integrating the acquired General Cable production, doubling the plant and incurring very substantial temporary costs,” he explained. “The plant is now fully stabilized and doing quite well, and we are delighted at what they have accomplished.
“We also saw the benefits of certain pricing actions, although, from a gross margin percent standpoint, this was largely offset by passing through the tariffs at our costs.”
Engine Management operating income rose 13.7% to $26.35 million, while divisional operating income margin increased from 11.4% to 12.1%.
Looking ahead, Chief Operating Officer and CFO Jim Burke said on the call that management’s long-term forecast remains unchanged for Engine Management sales, excluding wire and acquisitions, to grow in the low- to mid-single digits. Additionally, wire and cable net sales — which Burke said are in a secular decline — are expected to be down 6% to 8% per year.
TEMPERATURE CONTROL … The company’s Temperature Control division came through with $84.41 million in revenue for the quarter — an increase of 5.0% over the prior year. Compressors revenue rose 11.8% to $52.49 million, while other climate control parts revenue declined 4.5% to $31.91 million.
Sills noted that Temperature Control is a somewhat complicated sales story to tell because of ordering dynamics. “Sales were up 5.0% from last year; however, it’s important to split the quarter into two pieces. April and May were really still pre-season, as customers prepared their shelves for summer,” he explained. “As discussed in the first-quarter call, pre-season activities far surpassed last year, and that trend continued into the second quarter.
“June marks the beginning of the summer season. If you recall, last year, the summer heat began early, and demand was very strong in June. However, due to that strong demand — coupled with our early struggles with new warehouse automation — we ended last June with an order backlog, which transferred sales into July. Although this June was substantially cooler and income and demand was lower, we ended the quarter fully current on shipping our orders. So, while this makes for a good quarter, we are cautious in how we are viewing the third quarter, which really defines Temp Control here, and we are going against very strong comps.”
Notably, SMP will be going up against an 18.4% Temp Control sales increase from the third quarter of 2018.
Sills noted that customer sell-through in the quarter was down mid-single digits. “That said, it has now gotten hot around the country,” he told analysts on the call, “and there are early indications of positive POS trends in July.”
Temp Control gross margin increased from 25.9% to 26.7% on a year-over-year basis, benefitting from favorable production levels, which yielded favorable absorption variances. On the call, Burke stated that management is planning lower production levels in the second half of 2019, which it believes will bring Temp Control full-year margins back within the forecast range of 25% to 26%.
Temp Control operating income rose 40.9% to $7.15 million in the quarter, while divisional operating margin expanded from 6.3% to 8.5% on a year-over-year basis.
POLLAK UPDATE … Recently acquired Pollak is a $40-million-plus business, selling various switches, sensors and connectors mainly for commercial vehicle applications. About 75% of the business is OE, with the remaining 25% being aftermarket, which is sold into the heavy-duty aftermarket channel as opposed to through SMP’s typical distributors. Pollak’s products are currently manufactured in two Stoneridge plants — the majority in Canton, MA, and the balance in Juarez, Mexico.
Sills said SMP acquired all of the production equipment but not the plants or any of the employees. Therefore, Stoneridge is manufacturing the products for SMP, as SMP gears up to relocate production to existing SMP plants. The majority will go to the Engine Management plant in Mexico. “As you can imagine, once we relocate it from Massachusetts, we will be able to enjoy significant cost savings,” Sills pointed out.
“The relocation will take the balance of the year, so we expect to realize full synergies some time in 2020,” he stated. “But, we believe that the more important benefit will be in the ability to grow the business by taking advantage of the full resources of SMP, as well as our breadth of products, to expand the offering. So, while the business is still quite new and we have a great deal to do, we are very excited about the potential.” — Marc Vincent
Dorman’s Earnings, Gross Margins Declined In Q2
Dorman Products (Colmar, PA) saw its net income drop 34.7% to $21.50 million in the second quarter of 2019, while gross profit decreased 6.0% to $87.15 million and gross margin declined from 38.9% last year to 34.3% for the three months ended June 29, 2019.
Management attributed the gross margin decline to a number of factors, including …
• Redundant overhead costs as the result of operating out of two distribution locations in Portland, TN. (In the first quarter of 2019, the company began moving its distribution facility in Portland to a new, larger, nearby facility).
• Acquisitions completed in the last 12 months that carry lower gross margins compared to Dorman’s historical levels.
• Growth from seasonal, lower-margin categories outpacing growth from high-margin categories.
• Pass-through of tariff costs to customers.
Net sales increased 6.7% to $254.18 million. Sales growth in the quarter attributable to acquisitions was approximately 2%. President and CEO Kevin Olsen stated that sales growth was not as strong as management had anticipated mainly because of soft end-market demand from the traditional (non-retail) channel.
Analysts with Jefferies LLC wrote in a July 30 report — citing comments made by Dorman management — that the company appears to have lost market share because of a recently reversed pricing strategy.
“As of July 1st, Dorman has ceased the company’s eMRP (electronic minimum retail price) program and adopted a version of the company’s prior eMAP (electronic minimum advertised pricing) policy,” analysts Bret Jordan, Mark Jordan and Ethan Huntley wrote in their report. “The move back to eMAP pricing is intended to drive sales via wholesalers/warehouse distributors that provide significant online fulfillment, a channel Dorman appears to have lost volume in as a result of the prior eMRP pricing policy.”
Olsen called the first half of 2019 “challenging,” citing temporary headwinds relating to higher distribution costs as the company continues to work toward consolidating its distribution locations in Portland, TN, as well as a product sales mix that pressured margins.
“We are targeting to be fully operating out of our new distribution facility as we exit 2019 and expect our distribution costs to be back to more typical levels as we move through 2020,” he said. “Initially, we anticipated this consolidation to be completed in the second quarter, but we delayed the consolidation by approximately six months to minimize customer disruption.”
Management has lowered its full-year outlook for earnings per share (EPS), now calling for full-year GAAP diluted EPS to come in between $3.06 and $3.30 and for non-GAAP diluted EPS to come in between $3.26 and $3.46.
Dorman also has revised its net sales guidance, now calling for net sales to grow between 7% and 9% for the year. The midpoint of this guidance assumes the company does not recover the softer end-market demand it experienced in the first half of 2019 from the traditional channel, which is expected to be partially offset by a net sales increase due to price changes related to the most recent tariff changes.
“We do expect a stronger back half in 2019, driven primarily by gross and operating margin improvement,” Olsen said, noting that management’s outlook for the automotive aftermarket remains bullish, underscored by solid industry fundamentals.
“We are continuing to launch new products at a very healthy pace, enabling our customers to achieve year-over-year sales growth, while offering our end users a high-quality alternative to the OE,” Olsen said. “In the second quarter of this year, we launched 1,824 new SKUs — a 48% increase compared to 1,235 SKUs launched in the second quarter last year, with 451 new-to-the-aftermarket SKUs, as well as 206 heavy duty SKUs.
“Year to date, the percentage of our net sales from products launched in the last 24 months was 18% … . In addition, year-to-date growth of both our heavy duty and complex electronics product lines continues to outpace our overall business.”
R&R To Rep Tub O’ Towels, More
Cleveland-based Federal Process Corp. — a manufacturer of cleaning products for the home, garage and worksite — has retained R&R Marketing Consultants Inc. of Kansas City for North American sales and marketing representation. R&R will rep Federal Process Corp.’s Tub O’ Towels, Free All Deep Penetrating Oil and Tub O’ Scrub product lines to the automotive, marine, RV and powersports segments.
Shane Brown Now President Of Pro-Reps Sales
Shane Brown is now the president of Pro-Reps Sales (Fredericksburg, VA). Brown ran the company jointly with partner Joe Evora for many years.
“After nine years as a partner at Pro-Reps Sales, Joe has decided to retire from the automotive industry to spend more time with his family and to pursue other passions,” said Brown, who doesn’t plan to take on another partner.
Brown began his aftermarket career in 1995 as a product and sales support manager at Cyclo Industries. He later joined the team at Mote-Osborne & Associates (now Accelerated Sales & Marketing) as a territory manager for south Florida.
Brown and Evora began their own self-named sales rep agencies, and later partnered to create Pro-Reps Sales. Pro-Reps covers the Southeast, representing manufactures of hard parts, interior accessories, and truck accessories for the automotive aftermarket and retail segments. Clients include Centric Parts, B&B Wires, ITM Engine, APDI Radiators, Precise Fuel Pumps, Traxion and Bosal.
Jasper Adds Texas Branch
Jasper Engines & Transmissions (Jasper, IN) has opened a 9,375-square-foot branch office in Lubbock, TX to better serve customers in west Texas and eastern New Mexico. According to the company, the facility will have the capacity for as many as 650 units, including gas and diesel engines, transmissions and differentials. This gives Jasper a total of 48 branch offices and distribution centers across 28 states.
PartsTech Lands Funding From BP Ventures/Castrol
BP Ventures has invested $3 million in PartsTech, an online parts and supply platform for the automotive aftermarket. The investment is part of a “Series A” funding round, led by BP Ventures and supported by BP’s lubricant business, Castrol.
The investment supports efforts to build on Castrol’s position in the U.S. repair shop market. “This investment will further enhance BP and Castrol’s ambitions to grow in the service and maintenance space by digitally engaging with the workshops, helping enable fast and efficient delivery of parts and lubricants through PartsTech’s exciting new platform,” Mandhir Singh, CEO of Castrol, said announcing the investment.
Castrol’s other collaborations in the automotive maintenance market include RepairPal, the fleet management and telematics business Zubie, Zippity mobile auto repair and maintenance, and the shop management system provider Autino.
P.I. Firm Buys MOVE Bumpers
The Austin, TX-based private investment firm BASE has acquired MOVE Bumpers/MOVE Inc. of Lewistown, MT, a company that specializes in aftermarket steel truck bumpers. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
MOVE founder Jim Steen will continue to lead the Lewistown operation. “Our partnership with BASE will allow us to pursue additional customer acquisition strategies,” Steen stated in an announcement dated July 30, “as well as expand our DIY bumper product lines and expand the sale of our utility racks, tire carrier kits and lights.”
In the same announcement, BASE Chief Investment Officer Cameron Lord said: “With our investment in MOVE, we are excited to pair our experience with online marketing and manufacturing with MOVE’s innovative products and passionate community.”
BASE plans to use the transaction to explore synergies across the automotive aftermarket and businesses making complementary products in adjacent industry verticals.
Auctus Capital Partners was the exclusive advisor to MOVE. Auctus Managing Director William Allen led the transaction.
BG Expands With New Technology/Training Center
BG Products recently hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new technology and training center at its headquarters in Wichita, KS. The 34,000-square-foot building includes a chemistry lab and automotive testing facility, as well as training and demonstration rooms. BG is a supplier of fluid maintenance service products and equipment.
AASA Introducing Startup Tech Matchmaker Event
AutoTech Connect — a new mobility technology and vehicle supplier matchmaking event being introduced by AASA in partnership with HDMA and the Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) — is scheduled for Sept. 5 at SRI International in Menlo Park, CA.
Participating Tier 1 OE automotive suppliers and automotive aftermarket suppliers will have an opportunity to meet with startup companies that have developed advanced technology for connected vehicles, telematics, EV and other applications.
About 25 automotive technology startups have registered so far, and AASA expects another 25 to join in.
“We are vetting and working with their presentations to ensure that only companies with interesting and impactful technologies participate and to ensure there is value for the suppliers,” AASA Senior Vice President of Operations Chris Gardner, said.
AASA and OESA members are looking for third-party developments to advance their technology capabilities and ensure their relevancy in the connected/mobility ecosystem, Gardner said. “Our members can research dozens of interesting technologies and startups through AutoTech Connect much easier than they can on their own,” he said.
Capstone Financial, a member of the AASA Mobility Technology Council (MTC), is another partner in the event. Capstone’s CEO, Dan Smith, serves on MTC’s executive committee.
“Capstone’s world is emerging automotive technology companies, and it knows thousands of companies with developing technologies for OE, automotive aftermarket and even heavy-duty applications,” Gardner said. “The partnership is a natural.”
After MTC’s Q3 meeting on Sep. 4, AutoTech Connect will include a general session conference the next morning, followed by matchmaking meetings and a networking reception.
For more information on the event, click here.
AAPEXedu Sessions To Address Today’s Customers, Future Trends
The 2019 AAPEXedu program will include 10 sessions for automotive service professionals, auto parts retailers and WDs designed to help them prepare for the future while also enhancing the service they provide to today’s customers. The sessions are part of an education program that also includes Let’s Tech presentations and Mobility Garage: Products & Training for Tomorrow training, along with two sections: Shop Equipment & Technology and Electric Car & Alternative Fuel/Energy.
Additionally, for the first time, all sessions will be translated into Chinese and Spanish.
All AAPEXedu sessions, Mobility Garage training and Let’s Tech presentations are included in AAPEX 2019 registration. To register, visit aapexshow.com/attendee. AAPEX will take place Nov. 5-7 at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas.
Obituary: Bruce Crower, Founder Of Crower Cams
Bruce Crower, founder of Crower Cams and a member of the Drag Racing Hall of Fame and SEMA Hall of Fame, died July 17.
Crower opened his first automotive speed shop near his hometown of Phoenix in 1949, later moving to California in the 1950s, where he joined the growing hot rod scene. The cam shaft and valve train company Crower started there as a one-man, part-time operation making engine parts for himself and his hot rod buddies, is now a multi-million-dollar operation, producing high-performance engine equipment for a wide variety of applications, including cars, trucks, boats, tractors, motorcycles and antiques.
Crower was posthumously inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame last week with the following write-up:
To know Crower’s story is to know the history and essence of the automotive specialty equipment market. Growing up in the 1930s, Crower was captivated by cars and speed from an early age. Whether it was the Moto-Scoot he modified at the age of 13, the Harley he got when he was 17, or the ’36 Ford Coupe or ’32 Ford Roadster that followed, Crower was always looking for ways to improve speed. After a brief period in the Air Force, Crower headed to San Diego, CA, where hot rodding was flourishing. In 1955, he opened Crower Racing Cams & Equipment Co. and began manufacturing race products. From the mounting of the 671 Blower on his Hudson to the Crower Glide Clutch and wings on Don Garlit’s race car, Crower is credited with advancing the industry’s speed, safety and overall innovation.
Company history describes Crower as “the thinking man’s racer.” He was credited with saying: “People don’t think as much as they should. If you think hard enough, the answer will come.” One subject he thought about for decades was implementing ways to improve the internal combustion engine.
During high school, Crower found that other hot rodders would buy parts that he made for his own 1932 Ford roadster, according to company history. As new ideas came to mind, instead of making just one part for himself, he would make several at a time and sell them to his fellow hot rodders. “It was simple arithmetic to see the profit of making thousands of such parts and selling them nationwide.”
As a young man, Crower served in the Air National Guard during the Korean War. He was able to develop his mechanic skills while working in a machine shop at Luke Field Air Force Base.
He then followed his parents to San Diego and landed a job as a machinist at Paul Schiefer Clutches.
By 1954, Crower set a 157 mph record at Bonneville Salt Flats behind the wheel of his Hemi-powered Hudson. He’s credited with being the first to top-mount a GMC blower. Crower had fashioned his own intake manifold and a pulley system cast in coffee cans using old pistons as material.
The next year, Crower opened Crower Equipment Co. He hired his brother, Dave, and brother in-law, Loren, to keep up with demand. Around this time, he introduced the Crowerglide centrifugal clutch for drag racing. Camshafts and other innovations followed.
Crower grew his reputation by working with Indianapolis 500 racers starting in 1954. He worked on winning teams in the 1960s, including the Jim Rathmann, Graham Hill and A.J. Foyt teams.
He was inducted into the Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1993.
Obituary: J. David Bell, Founder Of Erie DriveTrain
J. David Bell, founder of Erie DriveTrain, died July 10. He was 71 and had ALS.
Bell was active in industry associations, including the former Automotive Service Industry Association (ASIA) and AAIA (now the Auto Care Association) as well as its HDDA: Heavy Duty division.
“He was very well thought of in the heavy duty community,” Bill Wade of Wade & Partners said. “He was a fantastic teacher. I would send people new to the business to him because he could give them the straight scoop on exactly what was going on.”
“The guy just understood the business, not just on a day-to-day basis, but into the future,” Wade continued.
Bell was especially interested in education and training, Wade said.
“He was one of the first guys who saw the future tech shortage coming,” Wade said. “When he told me that many years ago, we were a fat and happy industry.”
A graduate of LeTourneau College in Texas, Bell also earned a master’s degree in engineering from Penn State Behrend and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He worked for GE and later joined Rockwell International (now ArvinMeritor), where he worked as chief engineer in the company’s driveline division and product manager of drivelines and axles.
Bell founded the former Erie DriveTrain about 30 years ago and served as its president. The company sold and serviced industrial, automotive and heavy-duty vehicle parts, including drive and trailer axles, king pins, line borings and brake spyders.
Randal Ward, president of the Automotive Aftermarket Association Southeast, got to know Bell through their involvement with AAIA and other associations.
“Dave was a pleasure to be around,” Ward said. “He would make his way across a crowded room to say hello, always ready with a big smile and a strong handshake.
“Dave never failed to ask what was going on in Alabama and about his friends there. He was a great leader and spokesperson for our industry, never too busy to give of his time and energy.”
Stu MacKay, retired president of MacKay & Co., saw Bell at almost every industry meeting he attended, including the Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue event that MacKay & Co. runs in Las Vegas in conjunction with HDMA.
“He was very quiet, but he had some really solid ideas about the industry, trends and technology,” MacKay said. “He was someone who was worth listening to.”
MacKay also praised Bell for his company’s dedication to service.
“He was a real strong proponent of the service side of our industry at a time when most of the emphasis was on parts,” MacKay said. “His strategy was a sound one, and it paid off.”
Bell was active in the First Alliance Church in Erie and served on its governing board for many years, according to his funeral home obituary. He served as president of the Employers Energy Alliance of Pennsylvania and as a board member for the Erie City Mission.
Survivors include his wife of 48 years, Marla; daughter, Maure; and two grandchildren.
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Dayton Parts Opens 3rd DC In Canada
Dayton Parts (Harrisburg, PA) opened its third location in Canada — a parts distribution center in Saint-Leonard, Quebec — last week. The 50,000-square-foot facility houses the company’s full portfolio, including brake, spring, steering, suspension, driveline, and hitch and coupling products.
Dayton Parts opened the new location to serve its customer base in Montreal and the eastern provinces. It joins DCs in Edmonton, Alberta and Mississauga, Ontario. And, the Canadian locations join five U.S. facilities, including manufacturing plants in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma and DCs in Pennsylvania, Texas and Nevada.
Job Mart 8/1/19
Andrew “Andy” Buck, most recently senior sales manager at Tenneco Automotive, is seeking industry contacts to re-enter the aftermarket. He can be reached at Andrew.Buck@comcast.net.
News Briefs 8/1/19
• Turn 14 Distribution has added truck and off-road parts from BuiltRight Industries to its line card.
• The Walker brand has a new site, WalkerExhaust.com, that combines its light vehicle and commercial truck portfolios. The site includes product information, “Find My Part” catalog tools and “Where to Buy” information.
• Polaris Inc. has launched a new corporate brand position, “Think Outside,” that’s designed to represent the company’s evolution to a global market leader with more than 30 brands and multiple services. The new branding will be accompanied by an updated logo and emblem.
• Meritor Inc. has completed its acquisition of AxleTech from The Carlyle Group. The move adds a complementary product portfolio, including a full line of independent suspensions, axles, braking products and drivetrain components. AxleTech will operate within Meritor’s Aftermarket, Industrial & Trailer segment.
• The Larson Group (TLG) is opening a TRP parts store in North Charleston, SC. In addition to providing aftermarket parts for a variety of commercial applications, the store will offer parts delivery and mobile service.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 8/1/19
• Auto Care Association President and CEO Bill Hanvey — along with members of the association’s executive team — recently met with the Mexican ambassador to the United States to discuss the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the auto care industry’s economic footprint in Mexico and opportunities for future trade missions to Mexico for U.S. companies. Click here for more information.
• The Auto Care Association’s Young Auto Care Network Group (YANG) — along with XL Parts and Motorcraft — will host a Regional Meet-Up Aug. 22 in Houston. Click here for more information.
• Event organizers report that almost 200 exhibitors took part in the sixth Latin Auto Parts Expo, which took place July 17-19 in Panama City.
• According to event organizers, business and technology leaders representing “several dozen manufacturers and distributors” attended AASA’s inaugural Mexico Technology Summit during the INA PAACE Automechanika show in Mexico City. AASA is planning activities for a second technology summit to be held at INA PAACE Automechanika Mexico City in 2020.
• The website for the MERA Sustainable Manufacturing Conference Fall 2019 is now live. The event will take place Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 in Detroit.
• The OESA Annual Conference has a new name: the OESA Automotive Supplier Conference. The 2019 Automotive Supplier Conference will take place Nov. 13 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI. Click here for more information or to register for this event.