Quick Hits …
(A few short items to get us started this week)
• JohnDow Industries has announced the appointment of Robert Christy as its president. Christy joined the company in 2016 as its vice president of sales and marketing. Prior to that, he was director of marketing for Dayco Products.
• Sarah Olson is now the head of new product development for Masu Brakes. Olson was director of product management – braking, North America for Federal-Mogul Motorparts/DRiV Inc. She had been with Federal-Mogul for 16 years.
• CITGO Lubricants has added Ryan Brancheau as a senior account manager covering Arizona and California. Brancheau most recently was a sales manager for the WD-40 Company. He also spent nearly six years with Valvoline Inc., including time as director of national account sales.
• Katy Hosenfeld has joined Edelbrock LLC as customer service manager. Prior to this, Hosenfeld was a market development representative with R&R Marketing Consultants Inc. Her background also includes time in sales with Keystone Automotive Operations, Arrow Speed and Reliable Automotive.
2020 PRI Show Canceled
Performance Racing Industry (PRI) announced Sept. 14 that the 2020 PRI Trade Show will not be taking place as scheduled in December in Indianapolis.
In an online letter addressed to exhibitors, attendees and race fans, PRI President Jamie Meyer wrote: “Getting this far was only possible through the hard work of our partners at Visit Indy and the Indiana Convention Center, as well as the people of Indianapolis. And while we certainly respect the tough job that local public health officials have in keeping their community safe, it became clear that we wouldn’t be able to provide a trade show environment in 2020 with the business and networking opportunities you’ve come to expect.
“Our goal will always be to deliver a world-class event that helps racing and performance businesses succeed, and we share your disappointment over the outcome of this year’s show. That said, I do want to express our thanks and gratitude to the hundreds of exhibiting companies that stayed committed to the show through these unprecedented times. To the many exhibitors who sent me letters offering support and suggestions and selflessly trying to help the industry that you love so much, I am humbled by your passion for this industry. Others stepped up and offered PRI additional support, often at their own expense.”
Full refunds for exhibitor booth deposits will be issued. Updates will be posted at prishow.com/update.
PRI reports that its trade show team has already started planning for 2021.
Enersys Lands Another Vendor Deal
A little over a month after announcing its status as an approved supplier partner of Automotive Parts Associates (APA), EnerSys Inc. on Sept. 15 announced that it has been appointed as an approved vendor to the Automotive Parts Services Group. As such, EnerSys is now able to offer its portfolio of premium Odyssey batteries to customers at more than 5,000 locations across North America.
Vange Proimos Led Company To Buy AP Emissions From APC Automotive Technologies
APC Automotive Technologies has announced the sale of AP Emissions to the APACE Holding Company LLC, which is owned by former AP Exhaust Owner, CEO and Executive Chairman Vange Proimos. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
As you may recall, APC Automotive Technologies came about from the 2017 merger of AP Emissions Technologies and Centric Parts. With this transaction, Centric Parts will serve as APC’s public-facing brand under the leadership of Tribby Warfield, who was appointed the CEO of APC about 15 months ago.
Regarding the sale of AP Emissions to APACE and Proimos, APC wrote: “Following a comprehensive strategic analysis, APC’s board of directors concluded that this transaction maximizes the value of the AP Emissions business and will enable further growth and innovation into the future for the benefit of employees and the wider industry.”
AP Emissions will continue to operate under its current name and under the leadership of Proimos, who has been a board member since 2014.
“AP Emissions has a leading platform and a strong position in the aftermarket, and I am excited to work again with its employees to grow the business further by providing high-quality service to customers,” Proimos said in an announcement dated Sept. 14. “I am grateful to Tribby Warfield for her leadership and stewardship over the past 15 months, and I look forward to continuing the commercial and operational growth initiatives she and her team have implemented at AP Emissions.”
Highline Aftermarket Purchases Retail Segment
Of Plews & Edelmann
Highline Aftermarket has entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of Plews & Edelmann’s retail segment, which designs and distributes automotive and industrial tools and accessories in such categories as lubrication, air accessories, air hoses and tire repair. This includes the brands Amflo, Lubrimatic and Tru-Flate.
The brands will join Highline’s collection of owned and licensed brands, including Prime Guard, Service Champ, Rain-X, Shout and Windex. Plews Retail’s employees will join Highline along with its products and brands.
Plews & Edelmann Chief Commercial Officer Dan Billie called Highline a perfect fit for the retail category. “We’re excited to have partnered with Highline in this transaction,” he said.
Billie added: “As Plews & Edelmann shifts its focus solely on application parts, we will soon be making a major announcement to our applied business regarding the addition of new product categories as we continue to execute our vision to transform the company.”
Plews Retail marks Highline’s fifth acquisition since its formation in 2016, and has more than doubled in size during that time. Management plans to continue pursuing organic and acquisition-related growth, according to an announcement dated Sept. 15.
“For more than 30 years, the Amflo, Lubrimatic and Tru-Flate brands have been synonymous with quality across retail, industrial distribution and the automotive aftermarket,” Highline CEO Darcy Curran said in the aforementioned announcement. “We’re excited to add the Plews Retail business to Highline’s growing national platform to better serve our customers together. This combination is a perfect strategic fit for Highline.”
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Memphis-based Highline is a portfolio company of The Sterling Group. Founded in 1982, Sterling targets controlling interests in basic manufacturing, distribution and industrial services companies. The Houston-based organization has sponsored the buyout of 56 platform companies along with a number of add-on acquisitions for a total transaction value of more than $14 billion. Currently, Sterling has over $4 billion of assets under management.
Parts Authority Makes Acquisitions In Utah, Massachusetts
Parts Authority (Lake Success, NY) has announced the acquisition of ASAP Automotive Warehouse, expanding its footprint to Utah. ASAP operates out of four locations across the state.
“Scott and Kelly Peterson bring incredible professionalism and know-how to the two-step distribution business in Utah. They are simply the best in class and have been for a number of years,” Parts Authority President and CEO Randy Buller said in a Sept. 14 announcement. “We look forward to expanding our footprint in this region.”
Parts Authority also has acquired Barrco Auto Parts of Springfield, MA. Barrco, which has been serving customers across the Northeast since 1976, is a fellow National Pronto Association member.
“Jake and Paul Barr have been Pronto members for over 30 years,” Buller said. “They have the exact same values as Parts Authority, and we are looking to build a brand together in New England.”
Parts Authority, founded in 1972, has more than 185 locations across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Pacific Northwest, along with Ohio, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, California and now Utah. The company has grown both organically and through acquisitions. Over the past several years, Parts Authority has acquired over a dozen companies.
SEMA Data Co-op Purchases PartsHub
The SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) has acquired the catalog management technology provider PartsHub. The combination is seen as enhancing manufacturers’ ability to create and update industry-standardized product information.
“Using PartsHub’s expanded product information management (PIM) software, SDC manufacturers will be able to easily organize their data, reach more resellers and sell more products,” SEMA wrote in an announcement dated Sept. 16.
The updated interface also allows possible datasets that can be exported in formats that meet reseller needs. Additional features include …
• In-line edits and real-time validations.
• Built-in workflows with view-only and edit permissions.
• Import and export to Excel or bulk edit in-app.
• Receiver-specific scorecards and readiness reports.
• One-click exports to resellers (XML, XLS, etc.).
• A commenting system for collaboration.
“SDC manufacturers typically are not data experts, and they have requested a simple, easy-to-use product information management system,” said Gigi Ho, SDC’s new vice president of operations. “We’re excited to incorporate the PartsHub platform into SDC’s system. Users will now have a simplified way to access, visualize and manage their product data, giving them even more control over their information.”
Ho is no stranger to PartsHub. She joined SDC in 2019 from PartsHub, where she was vice president of product development and customer success.
According to SDC, PartsHub’s current customers will continue to manage their product data within PartsHub without any rate changes. One-on-one orientation for the additional services provided by the SDC will be conducted for current PartsHub users, who will now be included into SDC’s reseller network, have access to SDC’s data experts for questions and guidance, and participate in SDC’s Data Excellence Award program.
Additional transitions are expected to be rolled out over the next 30 to 60 days as SDC gears up its training and data management for SDC’s current members.
GCommerce Now University Of The Aftermarket Foundation Lifetime Trustee
GCommerce Inc. is now a new lifetime trustee of the University of the Aftermarket Foundation (UAF), with CEO Steve Smith serving as GCommerce’s representative on the UAF board of trustees. Lifetime trustees support UAF’s mission of providing scholarships and educational opportunities for the next generation of aftermarket professionals. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. All contributions are tax deductible to the extent provided by law. To learn more, apply for a scholarship or grant, or make a donation, visit uofa-foundation.org.
PartsHawk Launches Direct-To-Consumer Retail
Aftermarket parts retailer PartsHawk has launched a new direct-to-consumer website, PartsHawk.com, after four years of selling products through secondary online retailers like Amazon and eBay. The company’s growth facilitated the move.
PartsHawk COO George Ali said he and his team analyzed the market and determined there was an unmet consumer need for a more robust and customized buying experience. “We evaluated the auto parts market and felt there was a huge opportunity in the e-commerce space,” Ali said. “It’s an up-and-coming, immature market that is underserved.
“What we have been focused on for the past four years is getting everything properly organized. This includes advertising the parts correctly, getting the right part for the customer the first time. There is a ton of data we have to comb through. Our catalog is 1.40 million parts.”
The PartsHawk leadership team brings expertise from marketing, automotive and electronics. Ali and CEO Terry Perrin worked together at Tiger Direct, a Fortune 600 electronics company, before it was bought out.
DIFFERENCES … Perrin, a 40-year veteran of the automotive aftermarket, said PartsHawk’s new website will set it apart for many reasons. “The data and the information are what customers are starving for today,” Perrin said. “Our site is much more intuitive, and it’s the data that will set us apart. We will have a complete information center. We don’t want to just sell you a part. We will earn your business based on providing the data you need to get the right part.”
Ali said the new site also differentiates itself on delivery speed, product variety and knowing what the customer wants — sometimes before they even know it. This, he said, is done through artificial intelligence and machine learning, which enable intelligent search suggestions, popular and related searches, and personalized search results for every customer.
In addition, PartsHawk sells replacement parts as well as performance parts.
Ali said getting the website to this level took time, patience and research. “It’s been a few years in the making,” Ali explained. “There were logistical things that had to happen before we could have a system to handle everything we wanted it to do. One of the biggest challenges in e-commerce auto parts is getting the right part for the customer. We want to be able to offer the best experience for the customer and keep them coming back.”
PANDEMIC IMPACT … Recent coronavirus-related shutdowns have not affected PartsHawk adversely; in fact, the pandemic had the opposite effect, according to Ali. “We have grown by leaps and bounds during the pandemic,” Ali said. “We have had a record last three months. There was a lot of uncertainty, and the world didn’t know what was going on. We decided at that point to put our head down, keep working and just do what we do.”
During the shutdown period, Ali said the company hired more people who were specialists in certain areas of the aftermarket, and that enabled them to grow their catalog offerings, as did adding several new suppliers.
“We did not by any means take our foot off the gas, and that has paid dividends,” Ali said. “As people were furloughing their employees, e-commerce was blowing up. We still had orders to fill and products to supply.”
In terms of delivery speed, Ali said the company averages 2.2 days from the time a product is ordered to when it gets to the customer, without charging expedited delivery fees. This is thanks to having 70 distributors across in the United States and Canada, including Meyer, Keystone, Motor State, Premier and Automatic Distributors.
PROMOTING PRODUCTS … Among the unique services that PartsHawk offers are micro-groups and forums, which are segmented parts of its website that allow people with specific automotive interests to gather and discuss things relevant to them. PartsHawk leverages these forums by contacting frequent participants and asking them to help promote products that might interest their group. In return, the promoter, or “influencer,” gets discount pricing on parts.
“It’s very similar to a Facebook group,” Ali explained. “These customers are extremely passionate and are in these forums all day long, talking. So, we have people from our website go in and become part of the conversation. We offer recommendations and tips. We want to be a friendly place. It’s a very casual conversation.”
One feature still in the works, but planned for the near future, is a customer chat experience that allows PartsHawk representatives to make product suggestions and directly place items in customers’ carts.
“We will have the ability to control the shopping cart,” Ali explained. “While you are chatting with me, I can add stuff to your cart. There will be no obligation to buy the added items, but it gives the customer a chance to look at a product and consider something they might not have thought of on their own.” — Susan Pappas
First Brands Adds VP Of Braking Product Management/Marketing
Peter Murnen has joined the First Brands Group (formerly known as the Trico Group) as its vice president of braking – product management and marketing. Murnen was the COO of Dixie Electric. Prior to that, he was vice president of marketing at Motorcar Parts of America. Murnen’s background also includes time as a global marketing director for braking at Federal-Mogul.
Liqui Moly Hires Manager To Grow Its Products In Oil Distributors Across U.S., Canada
Ken Dowler has joined Liqui Moly USA as key account manager – oil distribution. He is tasked with spearheading a newly developed position to grow Liqui Moly’s products in oil distributors across the United States and Canada.
Dowler has spent the last five years with Idemitsu Lubricants America, most recently as deputy division manager – aftermarket. In 2019, he was the Parts Authority “Outstanding Service Rep of the Year.”
Dowler’s background also includes time in business development and territory sales for the Orange Line Oil Company. He also has served on the CAWA Manufacturers’ Advisory Council.
Schaeffler Bolsters Its U.S., Canadian Aftermarket Sales Team
Matt Lundh has joined Schaeffler’s automotive aftermarket sales team as an account executive.
Lundh is responsible for promoting Schaeffler’s automotive aftermarket portfolio, with a focus on growing sales of the company’s FAG, LuK and INA product brands to the traditional and retail customer segments in the United States and Canada.
He comes to Schaeffler with over 25 years of industry experience, including time as a business development manager – traditional groups and special markets at Mahle, director of sales – North America for the ZF Group and vice president of sales for Beck/Arnley.
CRC Expands Marketing Department
CRC Industries has announced Marcy Parker as director of marketing for the Americas region. Parker leads the department’s key branding, product and digital marketing initiatives. She has been a market insights and analytics consultant for CRC since 2014.
Meanwhile, Jonah Rauch has joined CRC as product manager for the automotive and consumer product lines, where he will drive go-to-market strategies for CRC Brakleen. Rauch has 13 years of automotive aftermarket experience from Dorman Products, including more than 10 years of product management expertise.
Gates’ Financial Outlook Improves
Gates Industrial Corp. on Sept. 14 announced an improved financial outlook compared to the one management provided last month. “We are seeing broad-based continued improvement across our end markets and regions, which has translated into higher orders and sales within the quarter,” CEO Ivo Jurek said. “We now expect our third-quarter 2020 core revenue decline to be in the range of 5% to 7% year-over-year versus the previously communicated decline of 10% to 15%. For the second half of 2020, we anticipate decremental adjusted EBITDA margins of approximately 30% versus our previous estimate of approximately 35%.”
Energizer Holdings To Offer $800M In Senior Notes
Energizer Holdings — parent company to the auto care brands Refresh Your Car!, California Scents, Driven, Bahama & Co., Lexol, Eagle One, Armor All, STP and A/C Pro — plans to offer $800 million in 4.375% senior notes due 2029. The notes are to be guaranteed, jointly and severally, on an unsecured basis, by certain of the company’s domestic restricted subsidiaries.
Management intends to use the net proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, to redeem in full $750 million in outstanding 6.375% senior notes due 2026, as well as pay fees and expenses related to 2026 notes redemption and the offering of the notes. The proceeds would then be placed in a segregated, interest-bearing bank account maintained by the company.
The notes offering is expected to close on or around Sept. 30, 2020, subject to the satisfaction of applicable conditions.
Goodyear-Branded Brakes Line Debuts
Sept. 16 marked the official introduction of Goodyear Brakes, a full line of Goodyear-branded brake pads, rotors, calipers and hardware that will be marketed and sold to consumers via GoodyearBrakes.com, as well as Amazon, CarID, BuyBrakes.com and autoanything.com.
Goodyear Brakes is a licensee of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company though FDP Virginia of Tappahannock, VA. FDP Virginia will manufacture, sell and distributes the Goodyear Brakes product line.
Myers Industries Announces CFO’s Exit
Kevin Brackman is out as the CFO of Myers Industries, parent company to Myers Tire Supply. According to a Sept. 18 company announcement, the decision to separate was a “mutual agreement” and not the result of any matters relating to Myers Industries’ accounting practices or financial statements.
Brackman has been CFO since 2018. He joined the company in 2015.
Dan Hoehn now serves as interim CFO, while Myers Industries searches for a permanent financial chief. Hoehn has been vice president and corporate controller since August 2019.
Fortive Sets Date For Vontier Spin
Fortive Corp. (Everett, WA) has announced additional details regarding its planned separation of Vontier Corp. via a spinoff of 80.1% of the outstanding shares of Vontier common stock to Fortive shareholders.
When completed, the transaction will result in two independent, publicly traded companies: Vontier and Fortive. Vontier will focus on the transportation and mobility markets, and will be comprised mainly of Matco, Gilbarco Veeder-Root and Teletrac Navman.
There will be a pro-rata dividend of 80.1% of the outstanding common stock of Vontier to Fortive shareholders of record as of the close of business on Sept. 25. The dividend is payable Oct. 9.
As a result of the dividend, Fortive shareholders will receive two shares of Vontier common stock for every five shares of Fortive common stock they hold when the market closes Sept. 25. Following the dividend, Fortive will retain 19.9% of the outstanding shares of Vontier common stock, which Fortive intends to divest post-separation.
Fortive expects “when-issued” trading of Vontier common stock to begin Sept. 24 on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “VNT WI,” with “regular way” trading of Vontier common stock expected to begin Oct. 9 under the symbol “VNT.”
The Alliance Hosts Virtual Sales & Marketing Forum
The Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance held its first virtual Sales & Marketing Forum last week. Sales and marketing professionals from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Honduras and Colombia attended the event, according to The Alliance. The three-day forum included general sessions, panel discussions, training and, for the first time, a booth show. Sixty product, information technology and marketing channel partners participated in the booth show, according to The Alliance.
Uni-Select Canada, Bumper To Bumper Plan Digital Trade Event
Uni-Select Canada and Bumper to Bumper are planning a digital trade event called AUTOXPO that will take place Jan. 15-17, 2021. The goal is to connect exhibitors, customers, thought leaders and media from across Canada. The event will include …
• A product showcase with live conferences, live chats and demos.
• Keynotes and conferences with various aftermarket professionals.
• Roundtable sessions with national and private brand leaders.
• Banner program updates
• Networking opportunities.
• Private discussion sessions with Uni-Select personnel.
• Discussion forums.
The AAM Group To Host 13-Day Virtual, Video-Centric Trade Show
The AAM Group and its participating members plan to host a virtual trade show Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 that’s designed to provide automotive resellers and installers with an opportunity to learn about the new products for Jeeps, trucks and the off-road market.
The Event 2020 will introduce new products in a variety of categories across the 13 days of the show. Each product category will have its own landing page with introductory videos followed by individual product spotlight videos, vehicle build features, and a ballot that allows buyers to recognize their favorite products and vehicles. The votes will determine awards for the top products in each category as well as the top overall products of the show.
New-product prospecting for distributors, resellers and installers will be built into each product category page, according to AAM. And video and project vehicle spotlights will include links to product landing pages with additional information about the products as well as communication tools designed to let buyers chat directly or leave messages for warehouses.
YANG Plans Half-Day Virtual Conference For Oct. 21
Registration has opened for the YANG Virtual Experience taking place Oct. 21. The half-day event is intended to help young auto care industry professionals connect with peers, learn from industry experts, and share ideas and solutions for today’s challenges.
The YANG Virtual Experience will be a modified version of YANG’s Leadership Conference, which typically takes place during the Auto Care Association’s Spring Leadership Days. Program highlights include …
• A keynote presentation — “How to Say Anything to Anyone: Setting Expectations for Powerful Working Relationships” — from Shari Harley of Candid Culture.
• An overview of 2020’s top takeaways with Mike Chung, director of market intelligence for the Auto Care Association; and Tom Tucker, senior director of state affairs for the Auto Care Association.
• A fireside-style chat featuring Chase Baxley of The Parts House and Eric Lough of PartsTech Inc., exploring their leadership journeys and reflecting on what they’ve learned.
• Panel discussions on challenges and opportunities for 2021.
Rematec Amsterdam Moved To 2020
Event organizers have rescheduled Rematec Amsterdam to June 14-16, 2022 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and related travel restrictions. The show, which had been slated for June 14-16, 2021, typically attracts attendees from more than 75 countries.
“From a health and safety standpoint, we felt confident we could deliver a safe and secure show, incorporating the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness; however, Rematec Amsterdam is a truly global event, bringing together key industry players from all over the world,” explained Rematec Director Yorien de Ruijter. “With all countries and locations at different stages of recovery from COVID-19 and with international travel only returning gradually, it is clear that it will be difficult to ensure the same level of participation and high-quality, in-person experience at Amsterdam in 2021 that everyone has come to expect at Rematec.
“Therefore, we have agreed with our key stakeholders to focus on other ways to support the industry in 2021, with a commitment that Rematec Amsterdam will return stronger than ever June 14-16, 2022.”
To support the remanufacturing industry in 2021, plans are moving forward for digital networking and digital learning opportunities. This will include Rematec: Live & Connected March 24-25, 2021, which is billed as a “local and virtual” conference for the global remanufacturing community. It will include the International Conference on Remanufacturing (ICOR), which will join with a full virtual program, as well as various speakers and networking opportunities.
Rematec: Live & Connected will be collocated with Intertraffic Amsterdam at RAI Amsterdam. Click here for more information.
RacingJunk, Internet Brands To Host Virtual Trade Show
The Internet Brands Automotive Group — parent company to the race and performance classifieds site RacingJunk, among others — will host a virtual No Shows, No Problem trade show Oct. 28-30. The online show was created to fill a gap left by the cancelation of various in-person auto enthusiast events, including those hosted by Goodguys, the National Street Rod Association and SEMA.
“We’d been brainstorming ideas for a virtual show throughout the summer, building on some of our other virtual efforts, including webinars and online car shows,” said Jim Sweener, director of sales and business development for Internet Brands’ auto classifieds vertical. “The day that SEMA announced its cancellation, we knew we wanted to pull the trigger on a show.
“After a summer of necessary cancellations of races, car shows and other enthusiast events, SEMA represented something for all of us to look forward to. And while their virtual manufacturing showcase will be a great opportunity for B2B to still do business, RacingJunk and the Auto Communities wanted to offer businesses and consumers a chance to celebrate the industry that is still hanging on and finding new and innovative ways to function.”
The No Shows, No Problem virtual event is designed to help companies share new and popular products with consumers as well as businesses. Organizers intend to bring the two parts of the industry together, noting that businesses will have access to webinars on marketing, outreach and advertising, while consumers can ask questions of manufacturers in Q&As hosted on social media.
The virtual show will feature …
• A live-streamed, industry-specific panel.
• Original vehicle builds.
• Product showcases.
• An online car show.
• Dedicated forum posts.
• Product reviews.
• Virtual meetups.
Auto Care Association Testifies On Digital Millennium Copyright Act
Auto Care Association Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Government Affairs Aaron Lowe on Sept. 16 testified during a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on potential revisions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Lowe testified that vehicle manufacturers are increasingly using firmware and software to control the function and operation of nearly every motor vehicle part. “Over the last several years, original equipment manufacturers of motor vehicles (OEMs) have attempted to wield Section 1201 of the DMCA as an offensive weapon to stop consumers and businesses from competing to repair or customize their vehicles, or to supply replacement parts for these vehicles,” he stated. “Through the use of technological protection measures (TPM), manufacturers have attempted to prevent access to software by independents to the development of replacement parts and the ability to undertake vehicle repair.”
He recommended that legislators amend DMCA to ensure it cannot be used to provide for otherwise lawful use of software. Lowe also called on the subcommittee to look into the need to have aftermarket tools capable of working with multiple makes and models of vehicles.
56% Of Shops Have Seen A Drop In Business Since The Pandemic Started
According to an August survey conducted by ASE, 56% of shops have experienced a decrease in business related to the coronavirus pandemic. Only 19% of shops surveyed noted an increase in business since the start of the pandemic. The survey also found that 34% of service facilities have reduced hours.
According to ASE’s survey, 34% of technicians have seen their hours reduced, while 14% have been temporarily furloughed and 8% terminated.
More than 65% of those surveyed noted that they have done some type of self-study or enhanced training since the start of the pandemic, while 46% have participated in a webinar or online training course.
ASE also reported that 42% of respondents have increased their use of social media either somewhat or significantly over the past several months, with Facebook and YouTube being the top platforms used.
Valvoline Reaches Deal To Purchase 14 Quick Lubes
In West Texas
Valvoline Inc. has signed an agreement with Kent Lubrication Centers Ltd., which does business as Avis Lube, to purchase its 14 existing quick-lube shops, which will be rebranded as Valvoline Instant Oil Change service centers. This transaction is expected to close by year’s end. Financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.
“These 14 service centers in the Midland/Odessa area will enable us to expand deeper into Texas beyond our current base of company and franchise service centers in the Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin markets,” explained Tony Puckett, a senior vice president of Valvoline and president of its quick lubes unit.
“A core element of Valvoline’s business strategy is to continue to grow and strengthen our industry-leading quick-lube network through organic store expansion and high-quality acquisitions in both core and new markets,” Puckett said.
Valvoline operates and franchises approximately 1,400 quick-lube shops. It is the No. 2 chain by number of stores in the United States and the No. 3 chain by number of stores in Canada.
Operations VP Named For GEM-CAR
V2V Technologies has announced Kevin King as vice president of operations for the GEM-CAR repair shop management software team. King is an industry professional of more than 30 years, including time in store management and sales with Carquest.
“My challenge is to develop an operational center of excellence to grow the customer base from over 2,000 workshops to over 10,000 within five years,” King said, adding that implementation and aftersales support are two key issues.
“My goal is to complement the team with experienced customer service professionals,” he said. “My challenge is to transform the corporate culture to train coaches who will also be able to assist shop owners in improving their profitability and sales. Over the years, I have developed an exceptional experience on GEM-CAR that I intend to use to improve the level of service of GEM-CAR.”
Wrench Expands Its Offerings With Lemon Squad Purchase
The mobile vehicle maintenance and repair company Wrench has acquired Lemon Squad, an automotive inspection provider that boasts a network of 2,800 ASE-certified inspectors across the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. The acquisition allows Wrench to service consumers and fleet operators across the vehicle ownership experience, from pre-purchase to maintenance and repair.
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Andy Dabbs, the president and CEO of Lemon Squad, is joining Wrench as its general manager of inspections, while Lemon Squad’s inspectors will become a part of Wrench’s extended team.
Wrench customers and fleet operators can now schedule onsite, pre-purchase vehicle inspections directly through the Wrench mobile app. Customers also can contact Lemon Squad directly.
Mercedes-Benz Launches Virtual Vehicle Diagnostics Support
Mercedes-Benz has rolled out a virtual remote diagnostics program at all of its U.S. dealerships, the result of a collaboration with Microsoft. The new system, Mercedes-Benz Virtual Remote Support, allows onsite dealership technicians to share real-time views and audio with offsite Mercedes-Benz specialists, who guide technicians through complex repair issues.
Onsite dealership techs wear HoloLens 2 headsets with access to immediate, real-time support from Mercedes-Benz specialists. Using Dynamics 365 Remote Assist technology, these offsite specialists can see what the dealership technicians see. And working in an immersive, “mixed reality” environment, both people can …
• View 3D images and holograms.
• See where changes need to be made.
• Annotate visual information.
• Add documents.
• Insert arrows, circles and more to highlight items.
The goal is to get the job done right as well as save time by not having to upload information and wait for a response, improving turnaround time.
Sonic Automotive Expects Steady Recovery In Fixed Operations Gross Profit
Charlotte-based Sonic Automotive on Sept. 15 provided an updated outlook on its franchised dealership same-store parts and service gross profit. According to the company’s actual but unaudited results …
• July parts and service gross profit decreased 4% compared to the same period a year ago.
• August parts and service gross profit declined 10% year-over-year.
• September month-to-date parts and service gross profit increased 2% year-over-year.
Management’s expectations for the remainder of September and future periods — assuming a continued path toward reopening the U.S. economy and the absence of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic — calls for a steady recovery in franchised dealership parts and service gross profit. Sonic is calling for this side of its business to return to pre-pandemic levels in early 2021.
“We are very pleased with our operating performance in the third quarter to date, continuing our recovery from the challenges our industry faced earlier this year,” CEO David Smith said. “Consumer demand for new and used vehicles and parts and service repair work has continued to improve steadily in recent weeks, particularly when factoring in the timing of this year’s Labor Day weekend sales compared to the prior year.”
As of June 30, Sonic had 85 franchised dealerships (98 new vehicle franchises representing 21 different brands of cars and light trucks), 15 collision repair centers and 10 EchoPark locations across 12 states.
Canada-Based ProColor Collision Is Coming To
The United States
Mondofix Inc./Fix Network World has announced plans to launch its ProColor Collision brand in the United States, initially in California, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
“The Fix Network World family of companies has an established presence in the U.S., including in the glass industry with our Novus Glass and Speedy Glass network of franchise and corporate-owned locations,” said Steve Leal, president and CEO of Fix Network World. “By bringing ProColor into the U.S. collision space, we’re providing another alternative to independent body shops that want to join one of the fastest-growing networks in the world and leverage established relationships with global insurers, suppliers and fleet companies.”
Fix Network World acquired ProColor Collision about a year ago with the goal of expanding the brand outside of Quebec. The first ProColor Collision location in Ontario opened in July 2020. Fourteen additional locations are expected to launch across Canada by December.
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AACF Asks Industry To Aid In Natural Disaster Relief, Awareness
The Automotive Aftermarket Charitable Foundation (AACF) reminds aftermarket companies and their employees that AACF is here to help those affected by Hurricane Sally and the ongoing fires in the western United States. “We need the aftermarket industry to help us get the word out to persons who may not be aware of our foundation and the help we can provide,” said Joel Ayres, executive director. “We are asking our industry partners in the media, associations and manufacturing companies for assistance in this effort. The fires continue to rage, and we know this latest hurricane is just the beginning of a long season.”
“Our intention is to explore every avenue possible to identify aftermarket families that might need our help during these natural disasters that are happening during an already stressful time with the pandemic,” added AACF President Lynn Parker. “While we need the generous support of our industry if we want to be in a position to respond, companies can also help by becoming an AACF awareness partner, assisting in letting their employees know of our services.”
To become an AACF awareness partner company or to make a donation, email Joel Ayres at email@example.com or call (772) 286-5500.
People Watching 9/21/20
• Josh Russell, a former vice president of marketing for Raybestos Brake & Chassis, is now the senior director of marketing and development for the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI. Russell’s background also includes time as the director of marketing for Peak Antifreeze at Old World Industries.
• Mail Shark, a provider of direct mail services to repair shops and tire dealers among others, has appointed Josh Davis as its chief revenue officer. Davis was its executive vice president of sales.
• DealerSocket Inc. has appointed Tony Graham as the executive vice president and general manager of its Auto/Mate business unit, which provides a wide range of dealership management tools, including mobile service, multi-point vehicle inspection, parts and service pricing technology. Graham has served in various leadership roles over 26 years with CDK Global and ADP Dealer Services.
• Standard Motor Products has awarded its inaugural SMP “Women in Auto Care” scholarships to Savannah Miller of Prince Frederick, MD, and Eoin Dockter of Jacksonville, AR. Each female student will receive $5,000 to help with her automotive technical education.
• Dayco’s aftermarket division has awarded $2,500 Ed Rammel Memorial Scholarships to four students majoring in auto tech and collision repair. Dayco established the scholarship fund within the University of the Aftermarket Foundation in 2017 to honor the late Ed Rammel, who served in leadership roles at Dayco for almost 30 years.
News Briefs 9/21/20
• This month, AutoZone Inc. received “overweight” ratings from Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and Atlantic Equities, according to Business Insider.
• JPMorgan has upgraded its recommendation on the Genuine Parts Company (GPC) from “neutral” to “overweight,” according to Seeking Alpha. Its rationale is based on a synchronized recovery in its automotive and industrial parts segments.
• Keystone Automotive Operations has added products from Milenco America to its exterior accessories category. Milenco is a manufacturer of RV and traditional vehicle accessories, including towing mirrors, wheel clamps and protective hitch locks.
• Worksport Ltd. has announced plans to make a version of its TerraVis tonneau cover system with solar power integration available to the aftermarket.
• The Continental Battery Company has launched a new corporate website, continentalbattery.com.
• GMB has added additional technical details and 360-degree imagery to its online catalog.
• Dana Aftermarket now offers a Victor Reinz Gasket Finder that helps users find items at AutoZone by year, make and model.
• The Eaton Vehicle Group is expanding its remanufacturing program to include electronic clutch actuators used on Eaton UltraShift Plus transmissions. This is part of an effort to have remanufactured products account for as much as 80% of Eaton’s aftermarket transmissions by 2023. All factory remanufactured products are backed by Eaton’s Roadranger sales and service network.
• Strickland Brothers 10 Minute Oil Change has announced a partnership with Valle Vidal LLC to open three Strickland Brothers shops in the Midlothian, TX area.
• Nexen Tire America has launched a new mobile app that allows consumers to navigate through the company’s complete tire line by year, make and model, or tire-size or vehicle identification number (VIN). The app also includes a dealer locator with the ability to request an appointment, as well as a tool that allows consumers to see how a new set of tires will look on their vehicle.
• Snap-on Inc. has launched a SureTrack blog offering free access to Real Fixes created and resolved by SureTrack community members.
• With Fall Car Care Month coming in October, the Car Care Council offers free, printer-ready educational handouts and flyers at carcare.org/handouts-and-flyers.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 9/21/20
• The Automotive Distribution Network reports that more than 150 sales representatives from network members attended the first session of its inaugural Network Academy virtual sales rep training event with Jim Mathis of The Reinvention Pro. The second and third sessions of the training event will cover diagnosing client needs, closing sales and professionalism.
• The Automotive Content Professionals Network (ACPN) is now accepting applications for the 2021 ACPN Scholarship initiative. The program gives one person seeking to pursue professional and personal growth the opportunity to attend the group’s annual Knowledge Exchange Conference. Submissions are due by Nov. 20. The 2021 conference is slated for May 2-5 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando.
• ACPN is seeking University Breakout session proposals for the 2021 ACPN Knowledge Exchange Conference. ACPN is looking for focused educational content in the areas of technology and content management. The deadline to apply is Sept. 30.
• The Auto Care Association on Sept. 9 hosted a technology data standards webinar for the Mexican automotive aftermarket in collaboration with the Association of Representatives, Importers and Distributors of Spare Parts and Accessories for Automobiles of Mexico (ARIDRA Mexico). The event focused on the data standards ACES and PIES, as well as the Auto Care Vehicle Information Portal (VIP).
• The Automotive Maintenance & Repair Association (AMRA) will host a free webinar Sept. 30 on the future of automotive service and repair engagement, featuring Tim Cox and Trace Przybylowicz of CarNow and Facebook. Click here for more information.
• Susan Pase, special initiatives advisor to AASA, and Frank Schlehuber, senior consultant – market affairs for CLEPA, will join the virtual AASA Mobility Innovation Conference Oct. 21 to discuss safe and secure vehicle data access. Pase is the president of S. Pase Enterprises, which provides advisory services to automotive aftermarket and OE organizations, private equity firms and industry associations. Schlehuber is the founder of AMCON Aftermarket Consulting.