Quick Hits …
(A few short items to get us started this week)
• NASTF is seeking volunteers from the heavy-duty OEM world to assist in ensuring that NASTF’s service information links are up to date. This comes as the organization plans to release a full website overhaul in 2020. Those interested in assisting NASTF with developing and maintaining its heavy-duty resources can contact Holly Wolfe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• A bill (HB 130) has been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly seeking to abolish the state’s motor vehicle safety inspection program.
Vast Majority Of Techs Use Mobile Phones In The Bays
Nearly every auto repair technician owns a mobile phone (99.6%) and nearly half own a tablet or iPad (46.4%), according to IMR Inc. The vast majority of techs (87.4%) use the mobile phones for work in their bays. The firm’s research shows that techs use their mobile phones in the bay for the following reasons …
• To access technical information at 79.2%;
• To access technical manual sites at 69.4%;
• To access catalog information at 68.8%;
• To visit part manufacturer websites for product and technical information at 61.8%;
• To order parts at 55.6%;
• To watch training or technical content and videos at 11.1%.
CarMD: Kia Most Affordable To Repair, Mercedes-Benz Most Reliable
Kia was the most affordable vehicle brand and Mercedes-Benz the most reliable, according to the 2019 CarMD Vehicle Health Index. Published annually since 2011, the index analyzes “Check Engine” repair and cost data to rank …
• The 10 brands and 100 vehicles least likely to have an illuminated “Check Engine” light.
• The 10 brands and 100 vehicles with the lowest average repair costs.
• The top three vehicles by category.
CarMD found that Mercedes-Benz was the brand least likely to need “Check Engine” repairs, edging out Mitsubishi and Buick, which came in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
Kia, which ranked second last year, became the brand with the lowest average repair cost ($321), followed by Mazda ($332), which ranked first last year, and Hyundai ($333).
A few other highlights from the report …
• Buick, Ford and Kia were the only brands to rank in the Top 10 on both lists.
• Kia swept the list of three most affordable compact vehicles to repair.
• The 2017 Honda CR-V was the vehicle least likely to need a “Check Engine” light-related repair.
• The 2017 Subaru Outback cost the least on average ($59) to repair.
Click here to view a report from CarMD with year-over-year scores and Top 100 vehicle rankings. To compile its index Irvine, CA-based CarMD analyzed data from over 14.40 million model-year 1996 to 2019 vehicles reporting “Check Engine” health between Oct. 1, 2018 and Sept. 30, 2019.
Les Schwab Tire Centers Seeks New Ownership
Nearly 70 years after Les Schwab founded the company, the board and shareholders of Les Schwab Tire Centers (Bend, OR) are seeking new ownership.
“As hard as it is to make the decision to sell this company, we are confident it will offer tremendous opportunity to build on all we have accomplished together for our customers, communities and our employees,” the Schwab family said in a statement. “We are excited to see what the future will bring.”
According to a Dec. 24 report from The Oregonian/OregonLive, the company has hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer.
In 1952, Les Schwab purchased an OK Rubber Welders tire store in Prineville, OR. From this single location, he built a business with over 400 locations across the West, becoming one of the largest independent tire businesses in the United States. Les Schwab died in 2007.
Christian Brothers Upgrades Warranty Program
Christian Brothers Automotive Corp. has announced an extension to its “Nice Difference” warranty program, which is available at all Christian Brothers Automotive locations nationwide. Effective Jan. 1, the warranty covers customers for as much as three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes last.
This means that, if a customer puts 36,000 miles on a vehicle in just two years, he or she is covered until the end of the third year. And, if it takes a customer four years to put 36,000 miles on a vehicle, he or she is covered until 36,000 miles.
The extension provides an additional 12,000 miles and one year of protection to Christian Brothers customers. The “Nice Difference” warranty is automatically applied to qualifying repairs or services at no additional cost to the customer. Click here for more information about the extended “Nice Difference” warranty.
Houston-based Christian Brothers has more than 200 shops across 30 states.
Christian Brothers Launches Car Donation Program
The Christian Brothers Automotive Foundation has launched a 501(c)3 organization called The Hub Garage that will provide vehicles to Houston-area single mothers in need of reliable transportation.
The program will take in donated vehicles that will be repaired by Christian Brothers Automotive technicians and given to needy single moms. The goal is to give recipients hope and greater independence by improving their mobility and access to jobs, school and more.
“There are around 24,000 single moms living below the poverty level in Houston,” said foundation president Jonathan Carr. “We want to leverage what we’re already good at to help people. And, if we can lower that number by even a few families, we’ll have made a huge step in the right direction.”
The Hub Garage will work with community partners as a referral source to find single moms in need. For 2020, the donation goal is 1,500 vehicles.
“In the future, we want to expand this to all 27 of our major markets,” Carr said. “We want to grow the program’s impact as fast as we can get cars donated.”
For more information about the program, visit thehubgarage.com.
The Group /AVI Conference Scheduled For Next Week
The Group Training Academy/AVI Winter Training Conference, a three-day event featuring technical and management training, will take place Jan. 16-18 at AVI’s headquarters in Fort Myers, FL. Among the courses being offered are …
• “Dealing With Difficult Customers”
• “The Top Light-Duty Diesel Problems & Solutions”
• “Building A Business Culture That Employees Embrace”
• “Steering & Suspension”
• “Developing Leadership Traits For Success”
• “Dynamic Duo: Scope & Scanner Diagnostics I & II”
• “Making Communication Meaningful For Internal & External Customers.”
For more information about the conference, click here.
The Network Announces Shop Program Enhancements For 2020
The Automotive Distribution Network has released the 2020 Auto Service Experts and Parts Plus Car Care Center programs, featuring enhanced partnerships with the Automotive Training Institute (ATI), Identifix and Openbay.
Platinum program components include …
• A 36-month/36,000-mile parts and labor warranty;
• Road hazard warranty;
• Roadside assistance;
• Double ASE test reimbursements ($50 per qualifying test);
• $200 Enterprise Rent-A-Car reimbursement;
• Double points for all Repair America promotions;
• Mile 1 Warranty claims for labor.
Additionally, platinum shops can choose one of the following options to receive at no cost …
• Identifix Direct-Hit;
• Additional Mile 1 Warranty labor claims;
• A Spectrio Digital Menu Board subscription;
• An oil change printer.
New Meineke Ad Campaign Emphasizes ‘Doing Car Care Right’
Meineke Car Care Centers has begun a new advertising campaign, emphasizing the theme “Doing Car Care Right.” This springs from customer research the business did to understand what customers want from their automotive repair experience.
According to Meineke, its research showed that customers want transparent customer service, the ability to understand what’s wrong with their vehicle and their repair options, and to be free to make their own educated decision in a low-pressure environment.
“Research confirmed that customers who need to get their car serviced feel vulnerable when they visit a repair shop,” Jeremy Putney, vice president of marketing for Meineke, said in a Dec. 10 announcement. “This insight led our team to the analogous situation of a doctor visit, where a person needs to put trust in a professional to give them good advice when the patient doesn’t really understand what the doctor is doing.”
The ad campaign is designed to reassure car owners that, when they visit a Meineke shop, they will only receive the services their car needs. The ad features a picture of a doctor and states: “Your doctor wouldn’t make unnecessary repairs. Neither would Meineke.”
“One of the ways we’re ‘Doing Car Care Right’ is with Meineke e-inspections,” Putney stated. “These detailed, electronic vehicle inspections allow our car care professionals to have a discussion with customers about any issues with the car so our customers can make informed decisions.
“We have been rolling out the Meineke e-inspection system to our centers to provide an even better customer experience. Through a digital tablet-based inspection platform, the car owner receives a detailed e-inspection report directly to their email for review.”
Click here to see one aspect of the campaign.
Meineke, a division of Charlotte-based Driven Brands, has over 800 repair shops that service roughly 3 million cars a year.
LWG Shores Up Connecticut Midas Locations
The Leeds West Groups (LWG) has acquired the real estate of three of its four Connecticut Midas automotive service locations. This capital investment marks the 11th real estate transaction and the fifth state over the last 24 months for LWG.
“We are very excited about our East Coast Midas presence, as we continue each quarter to make investments into our Midas real estate portfolio, securing these automotive retail locations for the future,” said Judd Kyle Shader, CEO of LWG and a member of the board of directors. “Connecticut is a great market for LWG, and these three strategic sites in Norwalk, Danbury and Fairfield are in perfect alignment with LWG’s overall complete automotive growth vision and strategy.”
Greenwood Village, CO-based LWG acquires, owns and manages national automotive repair franchise brands (Midas, Big O Tires and Speedee Oil). It currently employs more than 950 people at over 100 automotive service shops operating across 17 states.
Jiffy Lube Franchisee Acquires Shops In Mississippi, Alabama
Jiffy Lube franchisee Premium Velocity Auto has acquired eight former Havoline Xpress Lube & Service Centers in Mississippi and Alabama from Randy Groover, a local business owner who is retiring. Groover was the president of Pro Oil Shop, which owned and operated the Havoline service centers. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The new Jiffy Lube shops are located in …
• Tupelo, MS (four locations);
• Booneville, MS;
• Corinth, MS;
• Muscle Shoals, AL;
• Florence, AL.
Premium Velocity Auto also has purchased a former Mobil 1 Express Lube shop in Florence, AL. The transactions bring two Jiffy Lube service centers to the northwest Alabama city, complementing its new Jiffy Lube in nearby Muscle Shoals.
Jack Williams Tire Adds Retail VP
Sam Senuk is now vice president of retail for the Jack Williams Tire Company. Senuk is tasked with overseeing all tire and auto service locations and with leading the company’s future expansion efforts.
“The addition of appointing a vice president of retail is to assist in expanding our retail footprint while remaining family owned and operated,” said Bill Williams, chairman.
“Our plan for the next decade is to expand both our retail and wholesale locations through acquisitions and ground-up locations,” added Scott Williams, president and COO.
Senuk was the senior vice president of store operations for Monro Inc. Prior to that, he was a divisional vice president with Rochester, NY-based Monro. Senuk’s background also includes time as a divisional vice president with TBC Corp.
Avoca, PA-based Jack Williams has 36 retail locations across northeastern and central Pennsylvania, as well as 13 JWT wholesale warehouses serving Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The company also operates two aftermarket specialty shops under the Auto Addictions brand, a dealer marketing program called MyTireShop, and JWT Equipment Specialists, which focuses on equipment sales, installation and repairs.
Longtime Tire Industry Exec Retires
Steve True, a longtime tire industry executive, has announced his retirement. True most recently was vice president of sales – auto dealer channel for American Tire Distributors (ATD). He has been with ATD for more than 10 years.
His background includes 22 years in sales and marketing management with The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, as well as time as a sales director for OEConnection developing a customer base of tire distributors.
Goodyear Buys Raben Tires & Service
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has purchased the Raben Tire Company/Raben Tires & Service (Evansville, IN), expanding its company-owned store footprint in the Midwest. Raben has more than 30 commercial and consumer tire and service locations, as well as retread production plants. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
“The addition of Raben further expands our network and strengthens Goodyear’s ability to serve fleets,” said Dave Beasley, vice president of Goodyear North America Commercial. “Goodyear is already one of the world’s largest operators of commercial truck service and retreading centers and has nearly 800 company-owned commercial and retail tire and auto service centers across the U.S. and Canada.”
Palladium Equity Partners has owned Raben Tires & Service, in partnership with the Raben family, since 2014.
BB&T Capital Markets was the exclusive financial adviser to Raben.
Toyo Tire U.S.A. Announces Realigned Sales Structure
Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. has promoted Chad Stanley, a strategic account business development manager at the company, to director of sales – northern division. He has been with Toyo since 2014.
Stanley’s promotion comes with other changes to Toyo’s sales structure. The company is transitioning from eastern and western divisions to northern and southern divisions.
Sam Felberbaum, who has been director of sales for the western division, is now Stanley’s counterpart as director of sales ¬– southern division.
Meanwhile, Mike Snyder, who has been director of sales for the eastern division, has become director of sales – auto dealer channel. This is a new position at Toyo that reflects the company’s growing distribution with Ford and MOPAR.
All three sales directors report to Mike Graber, who is now vice president of sales.
Bridgestone Americas CEO To Retire, Former Pirelli Executive To Succeed
Gordon Knapp is retiring as the vice chair and executive officer of Bridgestone Corp. as well as the president, CEO and COO of Bridgestone Americas. Effective Jan. 15, he will serve as a strategic adviser to the company to help with the transition until March 31, at which time he will retire.
Knapp has been the president and CEO of Bridgestone Americas since 2016.
Paolo Ferrari will succeed Knapp as the president, CEO and COO of Bridgestone Americas, effective Jan. 15. He currently serves as the executive vice president, executive officer and global digital strategic officer of Bridgestone Corp.; a member of the board, CEO and president of Bridgestone EMIA; and chairman of the Bridgestone Americas board.
Ferrari is a former chairman and CEO of Pirelli North America. He joined Bridgestone in 2016.
Masaaki Tsuya — currently the chairman, CEO and representative executive officer of Bridgestone Corp. — will assume the role of chairman of the Bridgestone Americas board.
Kukui Launches Video Service For Ind. Repair Shops
Kukui Corp. now offers a video-based marketing application, Kukui Shop Videos, designed to help independent repair shops engage and attract customers, market their business’ specialties, recruit technicians, and increase search engine optimization (SEO).
Kukui Shop Videos is billed as a “turn-key” marketing program. The company’s videographers will spend a day on-site recording interviews with the shop owner, team members and customers to gather information about the shop. Then, Kukui prepares videos along with a set of web pages designed to attract the shop’s target audience. Each video is augmented with features that prompt viewers to click to call or make an appointment.
Mitchell 1 Adds Online Appointment Request Feature To SocialCRM
Mitchell 1 has added an online appointment feature to its SocialCRM shop marketing service that’s designed to make it more convenient to schedule appointments for vehicle repair and maintenance. The feature is integrated with the company’s Manager SE shop management system.
It allows consumers to request an appointment directly on the shop’s website or from an email sent from the shop. The request is automatically delivered to the shop’s Manager SE system with an alert that a request has arrived. The shop can then review the request and either accept or decline based upon availability. When accepted, the appointment is added to the shop’s schedule, and the system automatically sends a text or email to the consumer to verify the appointment.
The new feature is now included with all SocialCRM subscriptions.
SK Tools Touts New Financing Option
SK Professional Tools, an Ideal Industries company, has added a new payment gateway to its e-commerce site that provides technicians with a payment plan option capped at $1,000 to dissuade over-spending. The new platform from SK divides payments into four interest-free installments and automatically deducts payments from the payment method. Click here for more information.
ASE Updates Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis Specialist (L2) Test
ASE plans to launch an updated version of its Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis Specialist (L2) test on Jan. 6. The release will feature the new Composite Vehicle Type 4 (CV4), a generic medium/heavy vehicle equipped with a high-pressure common rail (HPCR) diesel fuel system, an updated exhaust aftertreatment system, and other updated systems and controls.
As is true of the current test, some questions will call for use of the composite vehicle reference. The updated test will use the L2 Composite Vehicle Type 4 (CV4) Reference Booklet, which can be downloaded or requested (printed copy) at no cost from ase.com/testprep along with the updated L2 study guide. Test takers will receive a booklet at the testing center for use during the test, but should acquire and review a copy prior to the test appointment, according to ASE.
During rollout of the updated test in the first half of 2020, there will be some differences that test takers should note. From January to July of 2020 …
• L2 certification and recertification tests will consist of 75 questions and have a 180-minute time limit.
• Test takers will receive an immediate “notice of completion” rather than a pass/fail score report. Their myASE profile will show “Score Pending” for the test.
• Official pass/fail test results for all L2 certification and recertification tests will be released through myASE accounts in June.
Starting in July, the L2 (certification) test will have 55 questions (including 10 unscored research questions). The L2R (recertification) test will have 45 questions. Both tests will have a two-hour time limit and will provide immediate pass/fail test results.
Autodata Solutions Merging With J.D. Power
J.D. Power is merging with the data and software provider Autodata Solutions following J.D. Power’s acquisition by Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm and the owner of Autodata Solutions.
The combined company will operate under the name J.D. Power and will offer new and pre-owned automobile transactional data, valuation tools, vehicle feature information, and consumer analytics to the automotive industry.
In addition to the investment by Thoma Bravo, J.D. Power’s existing management team will reinvest their ownership interest in the newly combined company, according to J.D. Power. Additionally, all current Autodata Solutions and J.D. Power employees will have the opportunity to take an ownership stake in the company.
The headquarters for the combined company will be in Troy, MI.
“The combination of J.D. Power’s deep data, analytics and customer experience insights with Autodata Solutions’ comprehensive vehicle feature data and dealer and manufacturer technology platforms will create a robust and insightful automotive industry resource for analyzing consumer demand and optimizing the vehicle sales process,” said Dave Habiger, who will continue as president and CEO of J.D. Power.
Former Autodata Solutions president and CEO Craig Jennings will continue as president of the Autodata division in the new J.D. Power.
CCAR Joins TechForce On ‘Pathfinder’ Campaign
The Coordinating Committee For Automotive Repair (CCAR) and the TechForce Foundation are partnering on a “Be A Pathfinder” promotion intended to engage students and their influencers through exploring learning styles and career roadmaps. The program seeks to guide future techs, parents and influencers to recognize the life-long opportunities of a career in the transportation industry, while helping them recognize why they are a fit for such careers.
CCAR and TechForce will host a webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 8, to discuss the campaign. Click here for more information.
TechForce Announces 2019 ‘Techs Rock Awards’ Winners
The TechForce Foundation has announced Melina Algier, a service technician at Farnsworth Chevrolet (Canandaigua, NY), as the 2019 “People’s Choice” grand prize winner and the “Rookie of the Year” award winner in the second annual “Techs Rock Awards” competition.
The program recognizes working technicians who are striving to mentor and inspire the next generation of techs, bringing excellence to their workplaces and communities, and demonstrating passion and commitment to the profession.
Algier prevailed over four other finalists who competed in an online contest in which more than 4,000 votes were cast. The other category winners were …
• “Pay It Forward” award: Jason Katzenberger of Kunes Country Ford (Delavan, WI);
• “Die Hard Tech” award: Christopher Owen of R.M. Burritt Motors (Oswego, NY);
• “Outstanding Mentor” award: Michael Owens of Fullerton Ford (Somerville, NJ);
• “Barrier Buster” award: Samantha Britton of Billy Howell Lincoln Ford (Cumming, GA).
Personnel Changes At Dent Wizard
St. Louis-based Dent Wizard International, a provider of automotive reconditioning services and vehicle protection products, has named Steve Carpenter as its Midwest regional vice president. He most recently was the company’s vice president of operations.
Carpenter replaces Dean Christian, who will be retiring from Dent Wizard in March after nearly 25 years with the organization.
In his new role, Carpenter is responsible for leading Dent Wizard’s operational teams and executing its strategic initiatives in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. He reports to Dent Wizard COO Addison Thomas.
News Briefs 1/6/20
• Ascot Supply Corp. (Newnan, GA) — an equipment, tools and supplies company servicing the tire industry —has announced Pennsylvania-based Eastern Tire Supplies as its newest distributor.
• Automotive Parts Distributors reports that more than 750 people participated in its training offerings in 2019 held at locations across Alberta (Calgary, Edmonton and Lloydminster) and in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. These numbers don’t include participants in online courses offered through the company’s programs. APD is based is Red Deer, Alberta.
• Icahn Automotive has announced a rebranding of Alfred State College of Technology’s technical training facility. The investment is part of Icahn Auto’s “Race to 2026” technician recruitment initiative. Alfred State’s automotive technology program is NATEF master certified and draws students from across the Northeast.
• Standard Motor Products (SMP) plans to award two female students with $5,000 scholarships in the inaugural “SMP Women in Auto Care Scholarship” competition. Students can enter by visiting SMPWIACScholarship.com. The deadline to apply is March 31.
• Valvoline Inc. has announced the opening of a franchised quick-lube center in Jacksonville, FL — the company’s first shop in the Jacksonville area.
• Victory Lane Quick Oil Change is poised to open its first shop in Arizona later this month. The franchised shop is located northeast of Phoenix in Payson.
• Sullivan Tire (Norwell, MA) has opened a wholesale location in Concord, NH. It is the company’s 14th wholesale location.
• VIP Tires & Service, which has 59 locations across New England, has donated $20,720 to five school districts in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The donations came from the company’s “Oil Changes for Education” initiative.