Quick Hits …
(A few short items to get us started this week)
• Women in Auto Care has announced this year’s “Women of the Year” award winners. The “Auto Care Woman of the Year” is Jennifer Maher, CEO of the TechForce Foundation and America’s Automotive Trust. The “Auto Care Woman of Excellence” is Cindy Frasca, COO of Kukui. The “Female Shop Owner of the Year” is Jamie Carlson, owner of Ervine’s Auto Repair and Grand Rapids Hybrid.
• U.S. Auto Parts Network’s 125,000-square-foot distribution center in Las Vegas is now open. The facility will deliver parts to customers across the western United States, servicing all of the brands the company has to offer, including CarParts.com, JC Whitney and Auto Parts Warehouse. The warehouse can handle more than 2,000 packages a day and will employ about 100 people.
From Service Executive …
• AAA: Average Maintenance, Repair Costs Are Marginally Higher
• Shopmonkey Touts $10 Million In ‘Series A’ Funding
• Vertical Development Announces Droptop Integration
• AAPEX Organizers Tout Service Professionals Offerings
• FCA Approves Snap-on For Secure Vehicle Gateway Module Access
• Mitsubishi Motors North America Adds Aftersales VP
The Greensheet Q2 2019 Financial Reports Chart
Each quarter, Auto Care Week/The Greensheet tracks key financial data from a number of companies publicly traded in the United States and Canada, and doing business in the North American auto care industry. We compile those top-line and bottom-line results for you to see, at a glance, how these companies fared. The listing is organized by increase/decrease in net sales.
Click here to view The Greensheet Q2 2019 Financial Reports Chart.
Perspective: Some Good News In A Time Of Great Uncertainty
Our industry associations have a tough job. They take on tasks too big for us to handle individually. At times, the challenges seem insurmountable, and the odds of a successful outcome appear slim. In the current business climate, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed and outnumbered with so many outside forces bearing down on the automotive aftermarket.
It’s an understatement to say that today’s business leaders are faced with uncertainty. Tariffs levied on goods imported into the United States and, in response, levied on products exported from the United States have caused disruption, to say the least. Adjusting supply chains away from China is no small task and nearly impossible to execute in the short term. Is it even the right call? At any moment, President Trump could decide to declare victory in the global trade fight and call off the tariffs.
Whether tariffs stay or go, uncertainty remains a reality for today’s aftermarket leaders. And, that uncertainty extends to passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which may get sidetracked by efforts to impeach the president. How does a company make decisions regarding new facilities, new personnel and new business when the future is so murky?
Then, there’s our seemingly perpetual battle with the automakers to protect our ability to service and maintain vehicles — a challenge made all the more difficulty by telematics and the reality that an automaker can restrict access to crucial information simply by altering some software.
Our industry associations are addressing these and many other issues, working on our behalf. For example, MEMA is hosting a fly-in event Oct. 23-24 in Washington, DC, to urge the Trump administration to not impose Section 232 tariffs on imported autos and auto parts.
Together, through groups like the Auto Care Association and AASA, we’re much stronger than we are as individuals. And, because of recent developments, we’re stronger now than we were just a few months ago.
I was elated when I heard that AASA and the Auto Care Association have forged a strategic partnership to advance the “Your Car. Your Data. Your Choice” consumer education campaign. The alliance will include activities aimed at raising awareness, educating the industry, and obtaining support for “Right to Repair” and access to data.
One example of this collaboration was a recent webcast that involved leaders from both associations, addressing why the vehicle data issue is important to the industry and consumers. This and initiatives like it make our position stronger, as well as present a united and more compelling case to consumers, legislators and regulators.
The automakers have the upper hand. They create the technology and dictate how their vehicles operate. They also have deep pockets. However, we have a compelling, pro-consumer message — one that resonates when our case is made. Additionally, we have numbers (there are more of us in terms of repair bays and workers), and we’re advocating for an expanded vehicle repair marketplace, not a limited one.
On a different front, I’m encouraged to hear about another blossoming partnership. It’s my understanding that organizers have begun planning for a 2020 event like last August’s Aftermarket IP Forum. I found the 2019 conference to be informative and timely. It involved a variety of organizations, and I hope that any future IP Forums have similar cross-association participation.
We’re so much stronger together, and there’s a lot we can learn from each other.
– Marc Vincent,
SSF Integrates Ramac Industries
SSF Imported Auto Parts has integrated Ramac Industries of Minden, NV, which has been a leading wholesale specialist for Swedish auto parts throughout North America for the last 32 years. The transaction closed Oct. 1. “Ramac is the perfect addition to SSF’s exclusively European program, further enhancing their position as the leading partner for Volvo-focused shops,” SSF said in a statement.
OEConnection Purchase Complete
Genstar Capital has completed its acquisition of Richfield, OH-based OEConnection LLC (OEC), a global automotive technology provider for OEM distribution networks. Current investors the Ford Motor Company and General Motors will each retain minority investments in OEC. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
OEC started in 2000 as a partnership between several OEMs, including Ford and GM, to provide technology to facilitate the sale of OE replacement parts between automakers, franchised dealers and their wholesale customers. Since its founding, the company has expanded to also provide software and technology in the data, supply chain and service segments of OEMs’ businesses.
According to OEC, the company now serves more than 30,000 auto dealers globally, 36 global OEM brands and over135,000 auto repairers.
“We are thrilled to join forces with Genstar as we continue to work to expand the OEC footprint and our product and service offerings for customers across the globe,” OEC Chairman and CEO Chuck Rotuno said in a Sept. 26 announcement. “Genstar has an impressive track record of partnering with companies in the software sector to accelerate growth and transformational change.”
Genstar is a San Francisco-based private equity firm that currently has roughly $17 billion in assets under management. Its investments target the financial services, healthcare, industrial technology and software industries.
Genstar is no stranger to the auto care industry. Among its holdings are BBB Industries; Ohio Transmission Corp., a Tier-1 parts supplier; and Innovative Aftermarket Systems (IAS), a marketer, administrator, and underwriter of vehicle protection products and related services sold through auto dealers.
Uni-Select Sells ProColor Program
Uni-Select Inc. has sold the ProColor banner program to Fix Auto. Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.
According to a Sept. 30 announcement from Uni-Select, it has entered into a transition agreement with the acquirer to “ensure an orderly and smooth transition for team members, customers, and suppliers.” Uni-Select also stated that it’s committed to continuing to support ProColor and furthering its growth throughout Canada via a long-term supply partnership agreement.
“Since Uni-Select launched the ProColor banner in Quebec in 2001, the network grew from 28 to 172 collision repair shops,” Uni-Select President and CEO Brent Windom said in the aforementioned announcement. “I wish to extend our gratitude to the ProColor team members who worked with us during the past 18 years and contributed to establish ProColor’s clear leadership position in the Quebec market.
“Fix Auto has a strong global network and a solid reputation in the auto repair industry, especially in the Canadian market, and we are excited that ProColor will continue to grow under their umbrella.”
Uni-Select Adds Marketing Communications, Content Manager
Uni-Select Inc. (Boucherville, Quebec) has named Isabelle Lafreniere to the position of manager, marketing communications and content. Lafraniere previously was with Sobeys Inc., which is touted as Canada’s second largest food retailer.
Lafraniere started at Uni-Select on Sept. 9, said Martin Lessard, vice president of marketing and digital strategy, to whom Lafreniere is reporting. “She will lead our various marketing communications and content development initiatives for our Bumper to Bumper brand and our installer banner program,” Lessard said. “As with most companies in the industry, digital is a key component of our efforts, and Isabelle’s experience coming from one of Canada’s largest food retailers will definitely help us in this direction.”
Walmart.com Adds VP/GM For Automotive, Tires, Powersports
Brian Rowland is now vice president and general manager of automotive, tires and powersports for Walmart.com. He had been the head of digital and e-commerce for the Transamerican Auto Parts Company. Rowland’s background also includes time as the vice president of category management at U.S. Auto Parts and director of marketing and technology for Nissan Motor Corp.
Plews & Edelmann Names Marketing Services Director
Dixon, IL-based Plews Inc./Plews & Edelmann has promoted Andrew Moe to director of marketing services for aftermarket and retail markets worldwide. Moe has held various positions with Plews & Edelmann, including associate category manager, category manager and, most recently, digital communications manager. In his new role, Moe has overall responsibility for the graphics department, website, social media development and all other digital communications for Plews.
Autopart Now Includes Shipment Rate Shopping
MAM Software has announced an integration between its Autopart business management software and ShipEngine, a subsidiary of Stamps.com. The partnership allows Autopart users to perform shipment rate shopping across multiple carriers and services, provide customers with shipping costs upfront, and generate shipment labels and tracking numbers directly from Autopart. The integration also allows for shipping addresses to be validated at the point of shipping, as well as for shipment tracking information to be viewed directly within Autopart.
Old World Industries Is Now Sole N. American Distributor Of BASF Glysantin Coolant/Antifreeze
Expanding on our reporting from last week, Old World Industries (OWI) is now the sole distributor and strategic partner of BASF Glysantin automotive coolant and antifreeze products in the North American market, defined as the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Under the agreement, OWI will offer BASF Glysantin automotive coolant and antifreeze products through its own portfolio of brands, including Peak Coolant + Antifreeze. And, OWI will use its distribution network to supply dealerships and retail locations with Glysantin products.
“North America is the most important automotive coolants market in the world,” Brian Liberman, vice president of fuel and lubricant solutions for BASF, said in a Sept. 20 announcement. “This partnership with OWI will enable us to rapidly commercialize our premium Glysantin products through OWI brands and its vast distribution network, and we are excited about the future of this partnership.”
In addition to the partnership with BASF, Northbrook, IL-based OWI will continue to develop and leverage its own coolant and antifreeze technology to cater to the needs of consumers and OEMs. OWI bills itself as the No.-1 antifreeze and engine coolant supplier in the United States.
Fram Labeling Emphasizes Recycling
The Trico Group (Rochester Hills, MI) has announced that Fram filtration products has joined the How2Recycle program to help customers recycle specific products and packaging more accurately. A label printed on packaging for Fram’s Extra Guard, Tough Guard and Ultra Synthetic oil filters and Fresh Breeze cabin air filter informs customers that the outer box of Fram packaging can be recycled across the United States and Canada.
“Improved packaging sustainability is a core part of our effort to protect our environment,” Kevin O’Dowd, senior vice president of global marketing, said in a Sept. 25 announcement. “This initiative is very important to our company, our direct customers and the motorists who purchase our products.”
Launched in 2012, How2Recycle offers standardized labeling across all packaging types, as well as instructions on packaging recyclability. For more information, visit how2recycle.info.
Akebono Launches Product Awareness Campaign
Akebono Brake Corp. has launched a campaign titled “The Hardware You Need With The Brakes You Trust” designed to raise awareness of its expanded product line. The program includes print and digital ads, literature, and giveaways, as well as a dedicated landing page with part number tables. The webpage and information contained within is intended for customers at all levels: distributors, jobbers, professional installers and DIYers.
Akebono plans to run the product awareness campaign through the end of 2019, concluding sometime in the first half of 2020.
The AAM Group Now Carries Fab Fours Products
The AAM Group has added Fab Fours to its Total Truck Centers and Performance Corner line cards. Its product portfolio includes steel front and rear bumpers for trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs; exterior accessories; interior accessories, such as grab handles, cargo dividers and under-seat storage; body armor (guards, rock sliders and fenders); and wheels and tires.
Stowe Cargo Systems Expands Production
Stowe Cargo Systems, a company that specializes in integrated cargo management products for truck beds, has expanded its production facility in Davisburg, MI, by 6,000 square feet. The expansion includes additional manufacturing floor space, as well as the addition of new inventory space. Stowe Cargo Systems also has launched a redesigned website, stowecargo.com.
VP Racing Fuels Boosts Distribution In California
VP Racing Fuels has announced a new distribution agreement with California Fuels & Lubricants (CFL) of Garden Grove, CA, servicing the Los Angeles and Orange counties. CFL will distribute the full line of VP products, including race fuel and racing lubricants, servicing tracks and drivers throughout Southern California. Also, the company will market VP’s branded retail programs, including VP-branded gas stations, VP FastLube oil change centers and VP PowerWash carwashes.
Participants Announced For G.research Symposium
Rye, NY-Based G.research has announced the participant lineup for its 43rd Annual Automotive Symposium taking place Nov. 4-5 in Las Vegas during Industry Week. The research event will feature presentations by senior management from a number of automotive companies, with an emphasis on industry dynamics, technical innovation, electric vehicles and macroeconomic trends. Analysts Carolina Jolly, Brian Sponheimer and Shawn Kim will moderate.
The following companies are scheduled to present …
• AutoNation Inc.
• AutoZone Inc.
• The Boyd Group Income Fund
• The Cooper Tire & Rubber Company
• Dana Inc.
• The Donaldson Company
• Gentex Corp.
• The Genuine Parts Company
• Lear Corp.
• Monro Inc.
• Motorcar Parts of America
• Navistar International Corp.
• O’Reilly Automotive
• The Penske Automotive Group
• Rush Enterprises
• Sonic Automotive
• Standard Motor Products
• Stoneridge Inc.
• Superior Industries International
• Tenneco Inc.
LKQ Divests Majority Of Its Bulgarian Business
LKQ Corp. has merged its Auto Kelly Bulgaria subsidiary with Elit Kar, creating what’s billed as one of Bulgaria’s leading auto parts distributors. LKQ owns a 20% equity interest in the combined business, which will continue to operate under both the Elit Car and Auto Kelly names.
This is part of an effort at LKQ to simplify its operating model and improve margins.
“The rationalization of our European asset base and divestiture of non-core businesses is one of the many initiatives that will help improve the EBITDA margins of LKQ Europe,” LKQ President and CEO Dominick Zarcone said in an Oct. 1 announcement. “We believe the Auto Kelly Bulgaria business will perform strongly under the leadership of Elit Kar, and we look forward to a successful partnership as both an equity holder and supplier.”
The combined Bulgarian business will acquire parts from LKQ’s aftermarket supply chain.
Power Heavy Duty Adds Kentucky Distributor
Kentucky Truck Parts of Glasgow, KY, has joined the Power Heavy Duty distributor network. Kentucky Truck Parts’ product offering is focused on tractor-trailer heavy-duty truck parts, shop supplies, tools and equipment. The family-owned business serves fleets, farmers, independent service facilities, municipalities and owner operators in south central Kentucky.
EnPro Sells STEMCO Brake/Wheel Ops. In Rome, GA
EnPro Industries has sold the STEMCO business operations conducted at its facility in Rome, GA, including the property, plant and equipment. According to a Sept. 26 filing with the SEC, STEMCO terminated the employment of 16 people at the facility, whose employment was not assumed by the buyer.
At the facility, STEMCO manufactured new bare steel brake shoes, lined brake shoes and wheel kits, and provided contract metal stamping services. According to the Rome News-Tribune, the divested business will become part of the brake products group of MAT Holdings.
“Consistent with our strategy to shift the EnPro portfolio to markets and products to which we can add the most value for our customers, the sale of STEMCO’s business in Rome, GA, will sharpen our focus on business units in which we are better positioned for value creation,” EnPro President and CEO Marvin Riley said in a Sept. 26 announcement.
The transaction was completed Sept. 25 other than with respect to the sale of the real property, which has been leased to the buyer and is to be purchased by the buyer, pending completion of “specified due diligence investigations, satisfactory remediation of matters identified in such investigations and the resolution of certain zoning matters.”
EnPro management estimates total charges related to these actions to be approximately $14.5 million, composed of …
• $11.8 million related to a loss on the sale of the business.
• $2.5 million in estimated contract cancellation costs.
• $200,000 in severance and other expenses.
These expenses — other than estimated contract cancellation costs, severance and other expenses totaling approximately $2.7 million — are non-cash charges.
The $14.5 million in estimated total charges are to be recognized in the third quarter of 2019. Contract cancellation costs, severance and other expenses will result in future cash outflows, which management anticipates will be incurred during the remainder of 2019 and the first half of 2020.
Spectra Premium Industries, a leading North American Auto Parts Manufacturer, is seeking a Sales & Performance Specialist (SPS) for the North American market. The SPS will obtain, interpret, format and report on customer & data weekly. … (more) … Click here to find out more.
The Director of Distribution is responsible for providing value to our customer. This is accomplished by working with a team to develop and implement measured standards at all company locations. This position requires the exercise of independent judgment and discretion. … (more) … Click here to find out more.
Continental To Shutter Two U.S. Plants
Continental AG on Sept. 25 announced that discussions “will soon begin” regarding closing its plant in Newport News, VA, where around 740 people are employed. Hydraulic components for gasoline engines (injectors) are manufactured at the plant. The closure is expected to occur in 2024.
The company also has approved plans to close its plant in Henderson, NC, where around 650 people produce hydraulic brake systems. The plant has been unable to acquire new customer projects in recent years, according to Continental.
RelaDyne Buys Northeast Distributor
Cincinnati-based RelaDyne LLC — one of the nation’s largest providers of lubricants, fuel and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) — has acquired Circle Lubricants. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Bay Shore, NY-based Circle Lubricants is one of the largest providers of lubricants, DEF and automotive products in the Northeast. The move allows RelaDyne to offer more lubricants and automotive products throughout New York, New Jersey and surrounding areas.
People Watching 10/3/19
• Igor Skornik is now the vice president of GKN Automotive’s niche customer, motorsport and aftermarket (NMA) organization. He reports directly to Markus Bannert, driveline COO, and is based in Roesrath, Germany. Skornik was commercial director – aftermarket for NGK Spark Plug Europe, where he was responsible for sales and trade marketing in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
• Steve Robinson is now a sales manager for Daystar Products International. Robinson is a former vice president of sales for Readylift Suspension and national sales manager for Bully Dog Technologies.
• ZF Friedrichshafen announced on Oct. 1 that Martin Fischer, president and general manager of BorgWarner’s U.S.-based global transmissions systems business unit, is joining the ZF board of management, effective Nov. 1. Fischer will take over from Franz Kleiner, who will retire at the start of 2020. Fischer also will take over Kleiner’s responsibilities for electronics and ADAS, active and passive safety systems, the North America and South America regions, and corporate quality.
News Briefs 10/3/19
• Pickup upgrades are the largest sector of the specialty equipment industry, accounting for 27% of total retail dollars, SEMA reports. This is followed by mid-range cars and SUVs (including the Jeep Wrangler).
• Motor State Distributing has added Bowler Performance Transmissions and Tera Pump to its vendor product line. Bowler offers a variety of remanufactured and upgraded transmissions, components, and accessories. Tera offers electrical, battery, and hand-powered pumps and pump accessories.
• Valvoline Inc. has introduced Valvoline EV Performance Fluids, a global product line that includes heat transfer fluid, drive system fluid, brake fluid and grease that are designed for electric vehicles. The company expects to unveil additional electric vehicle products and services in the coming weeks.
• Chassix has changed its name to Aludyne. The company manufactures aluminum and iron cast vehicle components for such applications as chassis, subframe and electric vehicles. In making the announcement, management contends that “as the industry changes and requires lighter and safer vehicle components, Aludyne more closely embodies the work currently being done by the company and the future of its business.”
• The Genuine Parts Company (GPC) has sold its wholly owned subsidiary EIS Inc., the electrical specialties group of Motion Industries, to Audax Private Equity.
• The Car Care Council has released a new video designed to demonstrate how vehicle owners can save money with preventive maintenance. The video, produced in conjunction with AutoNetTV Media, is tied to Fall Car Care Month, which is October.
• The Car Care Council also has issued an advisory regarding how to check for damage tied to water intrusion or contamination.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 10/3/19
• Oct. 11 is the early registration deadline for the 2019 SEMA Show. Visit semashow.com to register.
• An enhanced SEMA Show mobile app is now available for download.
• The Automotive Parts Services Group started its Toys for Tots campaign season with charity golf outing the day prior to the Federated Auto Parts 400 last month. To date, The Group — with the help of its members, customers and vendors — has raised more than $2 million for Toys for Tots.