ATD Reaches Deal With Bondholders To Reduce Debt
American Tire Distributors (ATD) has reached an agreement in principle with holders of more than 70 percent of its bonds on the terms of a recapitalization that would reduce ATD’s debt by as much as $1.10 billion. The transaction, which is still subject to various conditions, is designed to provide financial flexibility as ATD continues its transformation.
ATD has the liquidity to meet its business obligations, and operations are continuing as normal throughout the process, according to the company. Following the recapitalization, manufacturer partners and trade vendors are expected to be paid in full for existing obligations for goods and services provided.
“ATD has a strong foundation built on our unparalleled network, unique service offerings, and deep relationships with customers and manufacturer partners, coupled with a game-changing transformation under way to evolve our business as our industry continues to change,” ATD CEO Stuart Schuette said in a statement.
“Our journey over the past 18 months has been one of significant progress, and we are now taking steps to strengthen our financial position as we continue our transformation,” Schuette said. “The actions we are taking are intended to reduce our debt and create financial flexibility so we can enhance the strategic initiatives, key technologies and talent that will drive our transformation forward.”
The agreement is ATD’s latest move after Bridgestone Americas and the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. ended their distribution relationships with the company in favor of TireHub LLC, a tire distribution joint venture the tire companies started in early July. ATD eliminated nearly 100 field support center positions in July, with plans to add 40 new employees, as part of the restructuring.
The agreement with bondholders is subject to various conditions, including “finalization of definitive documentation.”
Kirkland & Ellis LLP is legal counsel to ATD. AlixPartners LLP is its operational advisor, and Moelis & Company LLC is its financial advisor.
Sears Auto Expands Amazon Tire Partnership Nationwide
Sears Auto Center has expanded its ship-to-store tire partnership with Amazon, allowing customers to have tires shipped to, and installed at, any Sears Auto Center nationwide, including Alaska and Hawaii. The deal applies to any brand of tire.
Sears teamed with Amazon in May and initially launched the program at 47 Sears Auto Centers in eight metropolitan areas.
“The response from Amazon customers around the program has been extremely positive,” Mike McCarthy, vice president and general manager of Sears Automotive, said in a statement.
The ship-to-store option is integrated into the amazon.com checkout process. Customers select their tires, the Sears Auto Center, and their preferred date and time for the tire installation. The Sears Auto Center then contacts them to confirm their appointment.
The bundled price for tire installation includes wheel balancing, a valve stem or tire pressure monitor rebuild kit, and the tire disposal fee.
Valvoline Adding 31 Shops In Ontario To Its New Canadian Network
Valvoline Inc. is expanding its newfound presence in Canada with an agreement to acquire the business assets of Oil Changers Inc., which has 31 franchised quick lubes in Ontario. The transaction is expected to be completed during the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“The acquisition of Great Canadian Oil Change in July provided us with the perfect opportunity to expand our quick-lube footprint outside the U.S.,” said Valvoline CEO Sam Mitchell. “Now, with the acquisition of Oil Changers, we look forward to increasing our scale and brand presence in Canada by broadening our retail footprint in Ontario.”
Dan Marin founded Ottawa-based Oil Changers in 1996. The business has been owned by his three children, who currently operate five locations and plan to remain in the quick-lube business as franchisees.
“We are excited that the Marin family plans to remain in the business and grow their base of five stores,” said Valvoline Quick Lubes president Tony Puckett. “We look forward to working with them and all of the franchisees to grow their respective businesses, add more locations, and expand Valvoline’s Great Canadian Oil Change brand in Canada.”
All Oil Changers quick-lube centers will be rebranded as Great Canadian Oil Change.
The deal would expand Valvoline’s quick-lube network to more than 1,250 company-owned and franchised locations across Canada and the United States.
Monro Now Accepting WEX Fleet Cards In The East
Monro Inc. is now accepting WEX fleet payment cards at more than 1,100 locations operating under eight regional brands throughout the eastern United States. The participating auto shops and tire stores are …
• Monro Muffler Brake & Service;
• Mr. Tire Auto Service Centers;
• Tread Quarters Discount Tire Auto Service Centers;
• AutoTire Car Care Centers;
• Ken Towery’s Tire & AutoCare;
• Tire Warehouse Tires for Less;
• Tire Barn Warehouse; and
• The Tire Choice & Total Car Care.
WEX serviced 11.50 million vehicles globally in 2017. Approximately 90 percent of those vehicles were in the United States, according to the company. The payment cards provide high-level purchase controls at the point of sale, allowing fleets to restrict purchases and receive automated alerts, as well as the ability to exclude, control or decline noncompliant transactions.
WEX operates via direct contractual relationships with the merchant and the fleet, according to Bob Mentzinger, WEX’s marketing content manager.
“Our proprietary closed-loop network allows WEX customers to perform customized analysis and reporting on the efficiency of their vehicles and the purchasing behavior of their drivers,” Mentzinger said. “This data is available to WEX fleet customers through traditional reporting services and sophisticated web-based data analysis tools, such as ClearView. Additionally, we have the ability to refine the information reporting provided to our fleet customers and customers of our strategic relationships.”
TechForce Foundation Debuts ‘Because I’m a Tech’ Campaign
The TechForce Foundation — a non-profit focused on championing students to and through their technical education and into careers as professional technicians — launched a campaign late last month called “Because I’m a Tech.” Its debut coincided with Labor Day.
The initiative is intended to teach teens and parents that a technical education and career is a viable path to a rewarding future. It also emphasizes the opportunities available for professional technicians in today’s transportation industry.
More specifically, the “Because I’m a Tech” campaign is designed to …
• Connect students who are hands-on learners and problem-solvers; who love fixing and making things work; and who have an affinity for computers, diagnostics and technology to an education and career that fits them;
• Teach parents and their teens about the social and economic opportunities of pursuing a technical education and career as a professional, trained technician;
• Ease fears as well as help parents and influencers understand how and why these careers are no longer considered “blue collar” but rather “new collar;”
• Demonstrate that technicians are not being replaced by automation and technology, but rather advanced by it;
• Help teens and parents see how real people are building rich and fulfilling lives because they are techs; and
• Demonstrate where and how to get started by providing a “roadmap” to success;
“Today’s techs are well paid, highly skilled, hands-on problem solvers who are not burdened by massive school debt like their four-year school counterparts,” said Jennifer Maher, the CEO and executive director of TechForce. “As we change the outdated image of this profession, we can get more students interested in becoming technicians.”
Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists Bolsters Its Corporate Team
Norcross, GA-based Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists (AWRS) has added two members to its corporate staff: Jason Yarbrough as franchise relations manager; and Mike Perkins as director of business development. Yarbrough, a former franchise owner, has been a part of AWRS since 2005. As franchise relations manager, he serves as a bridge between AWRS corporate and franchisees.
Perkins comes to AWRS with years of experience in the tire industry. He has worked for Hankook and Kumho Tire as director of sales in the southeast region. Prior to joining AWRS, Perkins was the vice president of sales and marketing at Sentury Tire North America.
AWRS is a full-service alloy wheel repair and replacement company, with franchised and company-owned locations operating in 46 states. It provides a variety of mobile wheel repair services, including cosmetic refinishing, wheel straightening and custom coloring, as well as off-site remanufacturing services.
Garage Equipment Solutions Joins Stertil-Koni Distributor Network
Rensselaer, NY-based Garage Equipment Solutions (GES) is expanding into the heavy-duty vehicle lifting sector by becoming a Stertil-Koni distributor. GES provides a wide range of equipment — including wheel service equipment, vehicle lifts, storage systems and more — to repair shops in eastern New York State, Vermont, western Massachusetts and western Connecticut.
Mitchell 1 Announces Dates For Shop Management Webinars
Mitchell 1 (Poway, CA) has announced the schedule for its Manager SE Shop Management Training Webinar Series, which represents a new format for its Manager SE shop management software workshop. For the first time, the business is sharing Manager SE training course material outside the classroom.
Mitchell 1 plans to offer six courses covering popular topics from its workshop curriculum. The webinar series will be free, and will include time for questions and answers. The series will be composed of the following courses …
• “Customizing Manager SE to Work the Way You Do” on Sept. 13 at 4:00 pm (Pacific time);
• “Managing & Marketing Work Found: Selling with Recommendations & Revisions” on Sept. 20 at 4:00 pm (Pacific);
• “Mastering Advanced Manager SE Transactions: Canned Jobs, Part Kits & More” on Sept. 27 at 4:00 pm (Pacific);
• “Manager SE Parts Strategy: Understanding Inventory, Purchase Orders & Parts Catalogs” on Oct. 11 at 4:00 pm (Pacific);
• “Optimizing the Manager SE Scheduler & Appointment Editor” on Oct. 18 at 4:00 pm (Pacific); and
• “What’s New in Manager SE Through 7.5” on Oct. 25 at 4:00 pm (Pacific).
Full course descriptions and links to register are available here.
Mitchell 1 will continue to offer its two-day live training in a classroom setting. The next workshop is scheduled for April 25-27 in Atlantic City, NJ.
Mudlick Expands Its Offerings With New Digital Services
Mudlick (Acworth, GA) has launched new digital services designed to help clients improve the results of their digital marketing campaigns, better target customers, and promote their services on a variety of platforms. This includes …
• Reputation Management, which helps clients improve or restore their brand by ensuring that negative material is countered, weakened or eliminated, according to the company. (The goal is to grow a positive image of a client’s store(s) and to build trust in the marketplace).
• Ringless Voicemail Campaigns, which allow clients to send voicemails to their customers’ land lines or mobile devices about new promotions, special discounts or even service reminders … without having the phone ring first.
• Mobile Geo-Targeting, which allows clients to send targeted ads to the mobile devices of potential customers within certain geographic areas.
• Managed Social Media, which provides clients with content and additional outreach through strategically placed Facebook ads. And,
• Targeted Display Ads, a service that allows clients to place ads where their targeted customers are more likely to see them.
To encourage experimentation, Mudlick allows clients to add new services on an a-la-carte basis. They also can opt to employ services some months and put them on hold for others.
Mudlick also reports that it’s close to completing an upgrade of its marketing platform that’s designed to help clients make informed buying decisions based on response rates and predictive analytics. The platform would illustrate key performance indicators and tie in call tracking information and market penetration reports. Clients could visually track and analyze the success of their direct mail campaigns using these tools.
In addition, the platform will include a web-to-print portal, allowing clients to print direct mail postcards, business cards or store banners themselves.
Yokohama Touts Social Media, Reputation Management App
Yokohama Tire Corp. (Santa Ana, CA) now offers a free tool to help its dealers and distributors publish pre-approved social media content, as well as monitor and respond to online reviews. The app, called Rallio, provides users with content from Yokohama (along with other content) that can be syndicated automatically to their social media outlets or be manually approved prior to posting.
The Rallio dashboard also offers a reputation management system that gives dealers the ability to monitor and respond to all of their online reviews from one location.
TCS, Tiremetrix Renew Partnership
TCS Technologies has announced a renewed partnership with Brighton, MI-based Tiremetrix to integrate Tire Registration Plus within the Tire Power and TireWorks HD software interfaces. Tire Power and TireWorks HD are TCS business management systems tailored to the tire and automotive repair sector.
The integration helps dealers send records to tire manufacturers with DOT number validation as well as eliminate the chance of servicing an aged or recalled tire. And, in the event of a recall, dealers are able to identify affected customers, retrieve registration records and get information directly from NHTSA.
Cookeville, TN-based TCS is an ARI Network Services company.
AASP-MN Plans October Mech Xchange Session
The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers – Minnesota (AASP-MN) will host a Mech Xchange peer-to-peer learning and networking from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Oct. 17 at LubeTech in Golden Valley. The event is open to anyone in the mechanical repair industry. It will feature two roundtable discussions: “Diversifying Shop Product & Service Offerings” and “New and/or Cost-Effective Marketing Tactics.” Membership in AASP-MN is not required to attend the event. Click here for more information.
Grange Insurance Adds Roadside Assistance To Mobile App
Auto insurance customers with Grange Insurance will soon be able to request roadside assistance directly from their Grange Mobile app. Now available in Kentucky, the new roadside assistance coverage and on-demand roadside services should be available in nearly all states where Grange offers auto insurance by the end of the year.
With the new optional roadside assistance coverage, policyholders will receive help with a variety of roadside emergencies, including engine trouble, battery issues, running out of fuel, getting locked out of the vehicle, having a flat tire and needing a tow. The service will include real-time GPS tracking of the service truck to the customer’s location.
Grange’s new roadside assistance coverage will replace its existing towing and labor coverage in most states, which helped reimburse policyholders after a covered roadside emergency.
Urgent.ly, a digital roadside assistance platform, is Grange’s partner on the new roadside assistance service.
Dickinson Fleet Services Acquires Truck PM Plus
Indianapolis-based Dickinson Fleet Services (DFS) has acquired Truck PM Plus from Bridgestone Americas. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Truck PM Plus is a truck and trailer maintenance provider with locations in Florida, Texas, California and Illinois. It offers mobile services, shop services and dedicated on-site services. Truck PM Plus has been a part of the Bridgestone Bandag family of companies since 2007.
Over the last few years, Truck PM Plus has expanded to seven locations in Florida, added locations in Texas and Arizona, begun operating dedicated facilities in Illinois and California, and laid the groundwork to open several new service locations through the southeastern United States, according to DFS.
The acquisition of Truck PM Plus is seen as expanding DFS’ service area, adding experienced repair and maintenance technicians, and improving its support and service offerings.
Truck PM Plus is the third acquisition completed by DFS over the last six months and the fourth completed in partnership with Ridgemont Equity Partners since Ridgemont’s investment in Dickinson in 2017.
DFS offers mobile on-site maintenance and repair services for light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks and trailers, with over 400 mobile units operating in 40 states. The company services fleet customers with 21 maintenance facilities.
Sea Foam Sales Company is looking for a knowledgeable, enthusiastic person to assume responsibility for our Wisconsin territory. Candidates must be a self-motivated, sales driven person with a good working knowledge of gas and diesel engines in a variety of industries and applications. … (more) … Click here to find out more.
EMPI Inc., a leading Automotive Aftermarket Manufacturer/Distributor is seeking a Sales Representative in Latin America. This will be a Commission Based opportunity. Both individuals and Sales Representative Companies may apply. … (more) … Click here to find out more.
EMPI Inc., a leading Automotive Aftermarket Manufacturer/Distributor is seeking a Vice President of Customer and Category Management. This is a promising career opportunity for a result driven professional with at least 5+ years of automotive sales experience at the management level. … (more) … Click here to find out more.
FutureTech Plans Auto Software And Electronics Boot Camps
FutureTech Auto has scheduled several automotive software and electronics boot camps in Las Vegas and in Portland, OR starting in December and running through March 2020. A pilot course this summer sold out, so FutureTech expects a market demand for the this type of training.
The five-day courses range from fundamental to intermediate and advanced levels, and include hands-on projects with instructor lectures blended into activities. Skills learned can be applied to electrified vehicle systems, such as the Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius, to name a few.
FutureTech’s goal is to train today’s automotive professionals to successfully adapt to technology changes and to avoid future displacement by electronics and programming diagnostic professionals.
Boot camp participants will learn how to quickly and inexpensively build circuits and software that permit them to build their own diagnostic tools or training aids, according to FutureTech. In turn, they will then have the ability to control or influence the vehicle’s system operations for the purpose of diagnosing real (or simulated) problems.
The training also will address electric drivetrains, autonomous vehicle systems, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and telematics.
“The industry’s desire to understand, maintain and repair vehicle components has overshadowed the need to understand what drives the components: the software and electronics,” vehicle electrification technologist Mark Quarto said. “Modern vehicles are complex and very software-based. Automotive technicians and educators need to acquire skills and experiences that will permit them to flexibly adapt.”
Quarto designed and developed the training curriculum, and will instruct each of the boot camps. For more information on dates, locations and cost, click here.
AAA Says Ride-Hailing Twice The Cost Of Car Ownership
New analysis from AAA shows that ride-hailing services are not a cost-effective replacement for vehicle ownership.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the average driver in an urban area — the only setting in which using these services would arguably be a practical full-time transportation option — drives 10,841 miles per year. While urban drivers travel fewer miles than those living in smaller towns or rural areas, relying on ride-hailing services as a primary mode of transportation would cost $20,118 annually.
This works out to more than twice the cost of owning a personal vehicle — even when factoring in the expense of fuel, insurance, parking and the vehicle itself.
For its study, AAA analyzed the costs of ride-hailing services (including the use of an occasional rental car) in 20 major urban areas. Based on the average number of miles traveled by city-dwellers, annual ride-hailing costs are as follows …
• Atlanta — $17,741
• Austin — $19,821
• Baltimore — $19,917
• Boston — $27,545
• Chicago — $22,020
• Cleveland — $20,091
• Dallas — $16,944
• Denver — $20,434
• Los Angeles — $17,951
• Miami — $17,339
• Nashville — $26,397
• New York — $21,279
• Philadelphia — $23,201
• Phoenix — $17,436
• Pittsburgh — $18,940
• Salt Lake City — $18,866
• San Diego — $17,316
• San Francisco — $21,972
• Seattle — $23,951
• Washington, DC — $21,093
According to data from AAA’s annual Your Driving Costs study, the average annual cost to own and operate a new vehicle — the costliest form of vehicle ownership — is $7,321 for 10,841 miles of travel annually.
Understanding that parking costs can be a major ownership expense for those living in urban areas, the motor club also analyzed the costs of flat-rate parking per year, which ranges from $706 in Phoenix to $8,088 in New York, with an average cost of $2,728.
For those with access to free parking, relying on ride-hailing services is nearly three times more expensive than vehicle ownership in these cities.
“For those who travel a very limited number of miles annually or have mobility issues that prevent them from driving a personal vehicle, ride-hailing can be a viable and important option,” said John Nielsen, managing director of automotive engineering and repair for AAA. “But, for everyone else, the car is still king.”
News Briefs 9/11/18
• Grease Monkey International has opened its first Minnesota location in the Minneapolis/St. Paul suburb of Savage. The three-bay center marks the 285th Grease Monkey shop in the United States.
• Five students will receive Federated Car Care scholarships for the 2018-‘19 academic year. The awards go to the employees or children of Federated Car Care Center members. Fisher Auto Parts funds the program, which is administered by the University of the Aftermarket Foundation in memory of the late Art Fisher, founder of Federated Auto Parts.
• Big O Tires has recognized the following as its 2017 “Franchisees of the Year:” Brian and Chad Cunningham, multi-store owners in Colorado; Kent and Kory Coleman, multi-store owners in Utah; and Chris Monteverde, multi-store owner in California. The program recognizes franchisees for implementing best practices, industry success, and giving back to their fellow franchisees and their communities.
• Ziebart International Corp. (Troy, MI) has announced two new master license agreements: one with National Automotive Co. (NATCO S.A.E.) in Egypt, and one with Purdy Auto S.A. in Costa Rica.
• The Automotive Maintenance & Repair Association (AMRA) and Motorist Assurance Program (MAP) Annual Members Meeting will take place Oct. 29 at the Venetian in Las Vegas in conjunction with AAPEX. Click here for more information or to register for the meeting.
• The Midwest Auto Care Alliance (MWACA), an independent regional association previously associated with ASA-Midwest, is launching an exclusive Facebook group.