Quick Hits …
(A few short items to get us started this week)
• The 1989 BMW project car designed by students in Northwood University’s Aftermarket Club will travel to AAPEX. The vehicle promotes the university’s Automotive Aftermarket Management program. Click here to read more about the project and to see a list of companies that supported the endeavor.
• Dan Qualls has rejoined King Engine Bearings as its sales manager for the United States, Canada and Australia. He was the vice president of business development for Hastings Manufacturing. From 2013-’15, Qualls was the North American sales manager for King Engine Bearings.
• Shannon McWilliams, vice president of sales for Interstate Batteries, has joined the Automotive Aftermarket Charitable Foundation (AACF) board of trustees. McWilliams soon will step into the role of chair of the AACF marketing committee.
• Porsche Cars Canada has begun operations at its first Canadian parts fulfillment center, which is located in Mississauga, Ontario. The 175,000-square-foot supply hub offers ground and air overnight delivery to 19 Porsche centers coast-to-coast.
Jefferies: Q3 Ends Strong
The third quarter appears to have ended with aftermarket sales gains in September, according to the October 2019 Monthly Tune-Up from Jefferies LLC. “End-of-quarter channel checks remain positive, with Q3 commentary showing a strong July followed by continued low-single-digit percentage growth in August and September,” analysts Bret Jordan, Mark Jordan and Ethan Huntley wrote. “While DIFM continues to outperform, we believe DIY trends showed marked improvement from weather impacts seen in Q2.”
Continental Buys Automotive Aftermarket Belt Business Of
Continental has acquired the assets and business of CRP Industries’ Continental-related belt and belt kits program. The move brings all of Continental’s products sold in North America under its own North American aftermarket business. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The acquisition is effective immediately. There will be a “gradual transition process,” according to an Oct. 7 announcement from Continental.
The acquisition specifically comprises import and domestic Continental-branded multi-v belts, accessory drive kits, v-belts, timing belts, Pro Series kits, Pro Series Plus kits and Black Series kits.
“This integration will help us to be one of the leading providers in the import market,” Rolf Sudmann, who is heading the global automotive aftermarket belt business within Continental, said in the aforementioned announcement.
CRP Industries will continue selling other non-Continental brands in the aftermarket, including Rein Automotive parts, Pentosin technical fluids, Ajusa gaskets and AAE Steering products.
“We are proud to have built the Continental brand in the market,” Dan Schildge, CEO of CRP Industries, said in the announcement. “This transaction brings alignment to the Continental product lines while allowing CRP to focus on further defining our brand and product offering … .”
CRP Mexico will continue to sell and market Continental brands as a master distributor.
U.S. Auto Parts Appoints Director Recommended By Co-Founder
U.S. Auto Parts Network has appointed Jim Barnes to its board of directors at the recommendation of Mehran Nia, a current member of the board and special advisor to the company. Nia is one of the co-founders of U.S. Auto Parts. He was its president and CEO and a director from 1995-’07.
According to an Oct. 10 filing with the SEC, Barnes’ addition is in accordance with an agreement between the company, Nia and the Nia Living Trust.
Barnes will serve as a Class III director of U.S. Auto Parts until the 2021 annual meeting of stockholders. According to the company, Barnes qualifies as an independent director, and has no family relationships with any director or executive officer of U.S. Auto Parts. Further, Barnes does not have a direct or indirect material interest in any transaction required to be disclosed, the company’s SEC filing states.
Barnes currently serves as the CEO of enVista LLC, a supply chain and unified commerce consulting firm. Prior to founding enVista, he was the executive vice president and co-founder of Q4 Logistics.
Plews & Edelmann Hires Director Of Category Management – Retail
Dixon, IL-based Plews Inc./Plews & Edelmann has hired Brandi Johnson as its director of category management – retail for aftermarket and retail markets worldwide. Johnson has held various positions over her career in such areas as new product development, project management and sourcing, as well as a buyer for some major retailers. In her new role, Johnson is primarily responsible for the overall growth and management of the retail product lines for the organization.
Meritor Appoints Aftermarket VP For North America
Meritor Inc. has appointed Aaron Bickford as its vice president of aftermarket – North America. Bickford has complete oversight and leadership responsibility for all aspects of the company’s aftermarket business in North America. He reports to Joe Plomin, senior vice president of aftermarket, industrial and trailer for Meritor.
Bickford is based at Meritor’s North American aftermarket headquarters in Florence, KY.
He has spent over 20 years at Meritor in various roles, including director of aftermarket brake and wheel-end, director of aftermarket drivetrain steering and suspension, and, most recently, general manager of aftermarket sales.
LKQ Corp. Touts ‘Board Refreshment;’ Is More In The Works?
LKQ Corp. has appointed Patrick Berard to its board of directors “as part of the board’s ongoing refreshment process,” the company announced Oct. 3. Berard is CEO of the Paris-based Rexel Group, a global distributor of electrical products and services for the energy market.
LKQ also announced that A. Clinton “Clint” Allen and William M. “Billy” Webster IV will retire from the board when their terms expire in connection with LKQ’s 2020 annual meeting. Following these changes, the size of the board will be reduced to 10 directors, eight of whom have joined since 2012.
Allen has been a director since 2003. In March, he was re-appointed as LKQ’s lead independent director. Allen is the chairman and CEO of A.C. Allen & Company, a holding company.
Webster, also a director since 2003, was the co-founder and chairman of the board of directors of Advance America, Cash Advance Centers Inc., a large payday advance lender.
Joseph Holsten, the chairman of LKQ, said in an announcement dated Oct. 3 that Berard brings experience in strategically and operationally important areas critical to LKQ.
“His addition to our board reflects another step in our ongoing board refreshment process, the current phase of which began in 2017,” Holsten stated. “Over the past 14 months, LKQ has added four new directors to the board who together bring important skills related to distribution and logistics, automotive technology, international markets, corporate governance and finance.
“The board and I are confident that the addition of Patrick will strengthen our governance profile and enhance oversight of our efforts to integrate and transform our European business while driving margin improvement across our operations in North America and Europe.”
This comes less than a month after activist investor ValueAct Capital disclosed that it has taken a 5.2% stake in LKQ and had discussions with company leaders regarding, among other things, board composition and whether it makes sense for a ValueAct Capital employee to be on LKQ’s board of directors. So, more “refreshment” may be coming.
Myers Industries President/CEO Resigns; Interim CEO Appointed
Myers Industries (Akron, OH), parent company to Myers Tire Supply, has announced the resignation of President and CEO Dave Banyard, effective Oct. 25, “to accept another professional opportunity,” according to an Oct. 3 announcement. He has served in this position since 2015.
Additional information on Banyard’s next opportunity was not disclosed.
Andrean Horton — Myers’ executive vice president, chief legal officer and secretary — has been appointed interim president and CEO. Horton has been with the company for roughly one year.
Myers’ board of directors will engage a global executive search firm to assist in identifying a new president and CEO, the company stated in the Oct. 3 announcement.
“On behalf of the board of directors, we would like to thank Dave for his leadership and contributions to Myers. We wish him well in his future endeavors,” Chairman F. Jack Liebau Jr. said. “The company will remain focused on executing its strategic initiatives, including the transformation underway in the distribution segment.”
Sunnen Opening Plant In Mexico
The Sunnen Products Company is opening a manufacturing facility in Monterrey, Mexico, and moving a portion of its abrasive and tooling products from St. Louis to the Monterrey facility. The transition is scheduled to begin by the end of 2019 and conclude by the end of 2020. A minimal impact on staffing in St. Louis is expected with this transition, as the company plans to reassign most employees to fill needs in other areas.
“This expansion represents a positive opportunity to further our global reach, advancing our position in the marketplace,” President and COO Chris Miltenberger said in a statement.
LTA Manufacturing Hires Northeast Regional Sales Manager
LTA Manufacturing has hired Brian Maxwell as the northeast regional sales manager for the company’s ATC Truck Covers, Jason Truck Caps, Ranch Fiberglass and LoadMaster Cargo Management product lines. Maxwell is responsible for business development, market growth, dealer relationships, and strategic initiatives targeted for 12 U.S. states as well as Quebec and Ontario. He reports to Matt Blais, LTA’s vice president of sales.
Maxwell has 30 years of account management and sales experience, including with the Holland Hitch Company, where he also managed sales activities with national accounts, and the Truck Accessories Group (TAG), where he was Midwest regional sales manager.
‘Fix-It’ Tickets Are Back In California
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law SEMA-supported legislation (SB-112) that restores “fix-it” tickets for cars suspected of violating the state’s exhaust noise limit. The legislation takes effect immediately.
The law remove cars from the impact of AB-1824, which was signed into law by former Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018. AB-1824 amended how California law enforcement officials issued citations for suspected exhaust noise violations by removing the ability to issue “fix-it” tickets, which allowed for 30 days to correct a violation. Instead, motorists received immediate fines. The law was widely panned within the specialty automotive aftermarket and by enthusiasts.
Now, California drivers again have 30 days to correct violations.
ATMC Announces ‘National Excellence In Training Award’ Winners
The ASE Training Managers Council (ATMC) has announced this year’s “National Excellence in Training Award” winners. They are …
• Grand Award Winner: Motor Coach Industries for the Motor Coach technician apprenticeship program.
• ACDelco and Raytheon Professional Services for the ACDelco technician training program.
• Quarto Technical Services for its automotive electronics and software boot camp.
The awards recognize effective and innovative training programs and emphasize the importance of training to the success of the transportation industry. ATMC will honor recipients at its Industry Week reception taking place from 5-7 p.m. on Nov. 6 at the Venetian Hotel-Sands Expo Center, Casanova Rooms 604-605.
AAPEX Mobility Garage To Include Training On EVs, Shop Equipment
Mobility Garage at AAPEX 2019 will feature hands-on training and demonstrations designed to prepare technicians and shop owners for the next generation of electric cars and alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), as well as new shop equipment and technology. Training partners include AVI, the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC), RLO Training and NASTF.
Training sessions will include …
• Electric vehicle technology and the new skills technicians need.
• Steering and chassis technology.
• Scan tools and lab scopes.
• Chrysler reprogramming and networking.
• Battery technology on hybrids, electric cars and AFVs.
• Inspection guidelines for natural gas vehicles.
Attendees also will have the opportunity to meet with exhibiting companies showcasing their products in Mobility Garage. For more information, click here.
Haldex Relocating Brake Adjusters Production To Mexico
Haldex is moving brake adjusters production from Blue Springs, MO, to a lower-cost facility in Mexico. A total of 154 employees will be affected, with only a few being offered new positions in the company’s U.S. operations, according to an Oct. 8 statement from Haldex.
The move will begin immediately and should be completed during the fourth quarter of 2020.
This is part of a larger effort to streamline production that began in 2018 when machining of brake adjusters relocated from the United States to India. After this latest move, brake adjusters — which are Haldex’s largest product — will be manufactured in China, India, Hungary, Brazil and Mexico.
Firestone Industrial Products Expands In Poland
The Firestone Industrial Products Company (FSIP) is expanding its operations in Central Europe. This will include adding 22,500 square feet to its existing plant in Wolsztyn, Poland, where FSIP manufactures air suspensions for commercial vehicles and passenger cars. The new plant is expected to be fully operational by the second half of 2020.
Additionally, FSIP plans to open a new distribution center in nearby Chobienice, Poland.
Deal To Sell VOXX’s German Subsidiary Falls Through
On Sept. 30, VOXX International Corp. received notification from the HF Company that HF is rescinding the June stock purchase agreement for VOXX German Accessories Holdings (VGAH). According to an Oct. 4 filing with the SEC, HF’s move is related to its inability to obtain financing for the transaction purchase price.
The deal called for VOXX to sell VGAH, which is comprised of Oehlbach Kabel and Schwaiger GmbH, to HF for approximately $19 million. VOXX will now retain the Oehlbach and Schwaiger operations, and will continue to market and distribute their accessory offerings.
The cancelation of the agreement also has led to the rescission of an option to purchase VGAH’s property in Langenzenn, Germany.
“We took action in fiscal 2019 to reorganize our international business and consolidate the operations of Schwaiger and Oehlbach into one operating entity. While the proposed accessories transaction would have further strengthened our balance sheet, we are satisfied to keep these strong European brands, as they have been consistent earnings contributors in the past, and we expect that will continue in the future,” President and CEO Pat Lavelle said in an Oct. 2 announcement. “Our strategy to potentially divest and acquire assets remains intact, and our No.-1 focus remains to position VOXX for improved and sustainable profitability in the years ahead.”
In related news, VOXX has sold its Pulheim, Germany, real estate and received roughly $9.70 million in net proceeds after the payment of outstanding mortgage and transactional costs.
VOXX is a global manufacturer and distributor of automotive and consumer technology.
LCI Names Aftermarket Group President
Elkhart, IN-based LCI Industries, parent company to Lippert Components Inc., has promoted Jamie Schnur to group president – aftermarket. Schnur was LCI’s chief administrative officer. He has held several senior leadership positions at LCI over the last 23 years.
In his new role, Schnur leads LCI’s aftermarket teams, which include aftermarket sales, customer service, marketing, information technology, business systems, customer experience and the technology division headquartered in Sterling Heights, MI.
LCI supplies a variety of components for leisure vehicle and mobile transportation OEMs and their related aftermarkets.
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.
People Watching 10/10/19
• Franck Bagouet is now the senior vice president – lubricants for Total USA. Since 2015, Bagouet has been the president and general manager of Total Canada.
• Spanesi Americas, a body shop equipment company, has added Constantino Uliano as its area manager for Canada. Constantino is an industry veteran with over 20 years of industry experience, as well as a welding specialist. His background includes time as a sales director for Car-O-Liner.
• Aluminum wheel supplier Superior Industries International has appointed Andy Meyer as its senior vice president and president – Europe, effective Nov. 1. Meyer was a senior vice president at Snop/Tower Automotive, responsible for 10 manufacturing sites and three technical centers across Europe.
News Briefs 10/10/19
• The AutoZone Inc. board of directors has authorized the repurchase of an additional $1.25 billion of the company’s common stock in connection with AutoZone’s ongoing share repurchase program. Since the inception of the repurchase program in 1998, and including the above amount, the board has authorized $23.20 billion in share repurchases.
• DRiV Inc. has moved into its new Asia/Pacific regional headquarters in Shanghai. An official grand opening is planned for December.
• Miramar, FL-based WAI has debuted a revamped e-store, featuring enhanced freight options, new search capabilities and self-serve capabilities.
• Epicor Software Corp. will offer free business technology consultations to automotive aftermarket parts suppliers, wholesalers and service providers attending AAPEX 2019.
• Power Automedia has announced that Street Muscle, a magazine known for its classic muscle car content, has merged with its Power & Performance, which is known for its coverage of the late-model performance market.
• Continental’s power transmission products plant in Chihuahua, Mexico, is celebrating its 20-year anniversary. The facility manufactures power transmission belts for a wide range of applications, including the automotive aftermarket.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 10/10/19
• The Import Vehicle Community’s recent webinar on changes, disruptions and cost increases in ocean shipping is available on-demand. The presenters are representatives from HCS International, the Gemini Shippers Association and Seabury Maritime. Click here to access the webinar.
• The Manufacturers’ Representative Council is offering an on-demand teleforum on the Auto Care Association’s recent Legislative Summit, advocating for the auto care industry and how to get involved. The panelists are Mike Boyer of Tasco Sales Reps, Jacki Lutz of Sensata Technologies and Mike Mohler of the Automotive Parts Service Group. The teleforum is moderated by Aaron Lowe, senior vice president of regulatory and government affairs for the Auto Care Association. Click here to listen.
• Vipar Heavy Duty will host its inaugural Impact Conference Oct. 20-25 in San Antonio. The new event is designed to be a catalyst for bringing together distributors, suppliers and business associates to support the success of the network and the heavy-duty aftermarket. The conference will feature updates on the Vipar organization and business growth insights from the G3 management team, a stockholder meeting, tradeshow, one-to-one stockholder/supplier partner meetings, and more. College basketball analyst Dick Vitale will serve as keynote speaker.
• Daymond John of Shark Tank will deliver a keynote presentation at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) 2020, which will take place Jan. 27-30 at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine, TX. In addition to his role on Shark Tank, John is known for his work as an entrepreneur and branding expert following the success of his lifestyle brand FUBU. For more information about HDAW, visit hdaw.org.