Quick Hits …
(A few short items to get us started this week)
• Our commutes are getting longer. Americans spent more than 2.99 billion minutes traveling to work by car, truck or van (driving alone) in 2017 — an increase of 2.8 percent compared to the previous year, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data. Americans who carpooled spent 383.01 million minutes traveling to work in in 2017 — an increase of 0.8 percent.
• The Automotive Service Association (ASA) has announced that, beginning in 2019, AutoInc. will no longer be a printed publication. Its content will instead be delivered via AutoInc.org. In announcing the decision, ASA said: “The expense of publishing a print magazine isn’t the best use of association resources due to increasing print and postage costs and decreased advertising support.”
• The Car Care Council and AutoNetTV Media have released a video on consumers’ rights to have their vehicles serviced at any auto service and repair business they choose without affecting the warranty. It explains that, by law, independent repair shops can provide services to maintain new car warranties and that consumers are protected by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which prohibits manufacturers from voiding a vehicle’s warranty because service was performed by a non-dealer.
Monro Appoints Brundage As Its Senior VP, Chief Marketing Officer
Monro Inc. (Rochester, NY) has appointed Deborah Brundage as its senior vice president and chief marketing officer. Brundage joined Monro back in March as its senior vice president of marketing and merchandising. She has more than 15 years of global brand development, marketing and business leadership experience at Procter & Gamble.
Since joining Monro, Brundage has been involved in the execution of the company’s customer-centric engagement initiatives (a part of its “Monro Forward” initiative) and oversaw the launch of Monro’s new retail and corporate websites.
The company also has promoted Avi Dasgupta to senior vice president and chief information officer. Dasgupta joined Monro in July as its vice president of IT infrastructure and data architecture. He has over 25 years of IT experience at various companies, including Constellation Brands (where he was vice president of application delivery) and Xerox Corp. (where he was a director of project management).
Since joining Monro, Dasgupta has led the expansion of the company’s IT infrastructure and data capabilities, supporting the rollout of various “Monro Forward” initiatives. In his new role, Dasgupta will oversee the entire IT organization.
Monro’s Tire Installation Program With Amazon Expands To Nearly 400 Shops
Monro Inc. has expanded its collaboration with Amazon to now provide tire installation services at more than 330 additional shops in 10 states across the eastern United States.
Initially launched in the Baltimore area, these tire installation services are now available — to customers who purchase tires from Amazon and select the “ship to store” option — at nearly 400 shops operating under a number of Monro brands in Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Tennessee and Virginia.
Over the course of the next year, management expects Monro to make these services available to Amazon customers at over 1,170 shops across 28 states.
“Our preferred tire agreements with online retailers are a key initiative of our omni-channel strategy,” said Monro president and CEO Brett Ponton. “And, this expanded collaboration underscores the strong progress we have made as we continue to develop our online presence.”
Remaining Merchant’s Shops Being Rebranded As NTB
The management of TBC Corp. expects to complete the rebranding of its remaining Merchant’s Tire & Auto Service Center locations — 46 shops in Maryland and Virginia — to NTB Tire & Service Centers by the end of November. Once complete, NTB will have nearly 550 shops across 23 states.
TBC purchased the Merchant’s brand, which got its start in 1943, back in 2003.
“With more than 75 years serving customers, there is no denying the strength of the Merchant’s brand; however, after careful evaluation, we have decided it is an appropriate time for us to operate these locations under NTB,” TBC president and CEO Erik Olsen said in an announcement dated Oct. 8. “The phased rebrand of Merchant’s locations to NTB over the past few years has yielded positive results and has been positively received by our associates and our customers. And, we are confident that this rebrand will have the same outcome.”
VIP Comes To Vermont
VIP Tires & Service has opened its first location in Vermont. The move came from the acquisition of a 9,000-square-foot NTB shop in Williston, which is near Burlington. The addition becomes VIP’s 58th location in New England (35 in Maine, 19 in New Hampshire, three in Massachusetts and one in Vermont).
Colorado-Based Repair Shop Franchisee Grows To 100 Locations
Leeds West Groups (LWG) now has 100 automotive repair facilities across the Unites States — a benchmark made possible by the acquisition of a repair shop and retail store in Aurora, CO. The deal also marks LWG’s 30th location in its home state of Colorado. Greenwood Village-based LWG is a management platform that acquires, owns and manages national automotive repair franchises, including Midas, Big O Tires and SpeeDee Oil Change shops.
First Responders Offered Franchise Discounts At Midas, Big O Tires
TBC Corp. (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) has announced a franchisee incentive program for eligible first responders — an extension of the company’s existing U.S. military veterans program. First responders employed for a minimum of five years as law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians or fire fighters who apply for a Midas or Big O Tires franchise within one year of ending their service are eligible for a waiver of the initial $30,000 franchise fee on their first Midas or Big O Tires location.
Midas To Repair Vehicles Donated To 1-800-Charity Cars
Midas has launched a national initiative to help families, veterans and first responders get back on the road. The program, called Project Spark, has Midas providing repairs — including parts and labor — for vehicles donated through 1-800-Charity Cars, an organization that provides free donated vehicles to assist struggling families transition from dependency to self-sufficiency.
Brian LePorin, vice president of marketing at Midas, said Project Spark was created to honor Midas’ heritage of being a good neighbor. “By providing necessary repairs — such as a set of new tires, an inspection or an oil change — on donated vehicles, Project Spark lets Midas help others by doing what it does best: fix cars,” LePorin said. “In the end, we believe this program can be the key to removing barriers and getting folks back on the road.”
Management believes Project Spark will help more than 1,000 people in Midas communities across the United States.
Jiffy Lube Franchisee Grows In Mountain States
Jiffy Lube franchisee the SRE Group has announced the opening of new Jiffy Lube service centers in Utah, Montana and Nevada, including a four-bay shop in Provo, UT, which gives SRE a total of 29 Jiffy Lube locations. Over the past 32 months, SRE has opened six quick lubes. The company plans to open two additional shops by the end of 2018.
ATD Files Chapter 11; Plan In Place To Reduce Debt By $1.10 Billion
Huntersville, NC-based American Tire Distributors (ATD), one of the largest independent suppliers of tires to the replacement tire market, has voluntarily filed for Chapter-11 reorganization. ATD also has entered into a definitive agreement with roughly 75 percent of its bondholders on the terms of a recapitalization that management says would reduce the company’s debt by approximately $1.10 billion, as well as increase its financial flexibility as it continues its ongoing transformation.
According to ATD, terms of the deal are substantially similar to those contemplated by an agreement in principle the company announced back in September.
The agreement, which is subject to court approval, calls for …
• Bondholders to receive 95 percent of new equity in a recapitalized ATD;
• Existing equity holders to receive 5 percent of the new equity; and
• The company to pay continuing manufacturer partners and vendors in full for existing claims.
Operations across ATD’s distribution network are reportedly continuing without disruption. Additionally, the company’s National Tire Distributors (NTD) subsidiary and its other Canadian subsidiaries are not part of the aforementioned court-supervised process, and continue to serve customers as they always have, according to ATD.
In connection with the court-supervised process, ATD says it has received commitments that would provide continued access to the company’s revolving credit facility, plus $250 million in new financing, which, subject to court approval, would be available to support ATD’s ongoing operations.
The company reportedly has the support of all three categories of ATD’s debt holders, and management expects the company to move quickly through this court-supervised process.
Additional information is available on ATD’s restructuring website, ATDrecapitalization.com. Kirkland & Ellis LLP is legal counsel to ATD. AlixPartners LLP is the company’s operational advisor, and Moelis & Co. is its financial advisor.
ATD operates more than 140 distribution centers, including 25 DCs in Canada, serving roughly 80,000 customers. The company employs approximately 5,000 people across its DC network, about 800 of which are in Canada.
Goodyear Rolls Out New Tire Buying/Installation Concept
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (Akron, OH) has launched a new tire-buying and installation service called Roll by Goodyear. Debuting in the Washington, DC area, the program allows customers to shop for tires from their mobile phones, tablets, computers or in person.
Users start their shopping online at RollByGoodyear.com or in a local Roll by Goodyear showroom. Once tires are purchased, customers pick from a variety of installation options …
• They can drop off their keys at a Roll by Goodyear showroom;
• Roll by Goodyear can pick up a customer’s vehicle from the location of their choice and bring it back to wherever they are; or
• Users can schedule a mobile installation van to come to where they are and install their tires.
The installation process is accompanied by real-time email or text status updates.
New Priority Website Offers Direct-To-Consumer Tires
Priority Tire Outlet has launched a new website offering direct-to-consumer discount tires, along with free shipping to the 48 contiguous states.
“We’ve been in the tire industry for over 14 years and now can offer wholesale prices on new tires directly to consumers on our website,” company President Dimitri Chernyak said.
The company started as Best Used Tires and expanded into the new tire business. It split into two in March with the launch of Priority Tire Outlet for the new-tire side of the business, selling via e-commerce outlets, including eBay.
Priority’s primary warehouse is in Allentown, PA, with a secondary warehouse in Grand Prairie, TX, and other connected warehouses around the country.
The website offers a variety of brands, including Firestone, Goodyear and BFGoodrich. Consumers shop by vehicle, size, brand, performance, type and season. Prices do not include installation. All online tire orders received before noon (Eastern time) are shipped via FedEx the same day, and orders received after noon are shipped the next day.
Max Finkelstein And Treadmaxx Form Tire Buying Group
Wholesale tire distributors Max Finkelstein (MFI) and Treadmaxx Tire Distributors have formed a wholesale buying group, Tire Distributors of the Americas LLC. The new venture will primarily focus on strategic tire manufacturers and proprietary offerings, according to the companies.
“This new venture allows our two companies and the members of the group to leverage our knowledge and best practices, eliminate redundancy in the supply chain, and create greater purchasing power,” Ira Silver, MFI president and CEO, said.
Mark Kauffman, Treadmaxx president and CEO, added: “As the tire industry continues to evolve, this will help strengthen the positions of all the members by leveraging best practices … which, in turn, will create a better value proposition for the independent tire dealer.”
Combined, MFI and Treadmaxx operate 29 regional tire distribution centers in 16 states, covering the Eastern seaboard and South-Central regions of the United States.
MFI (Astoria, NY) and Treadmaxx (Atlanta, GA) will continue to operate their individual businesses independently. The joint venture’s administrative offices are in Chattanooga, TN.
In addition to Kauffman and Silver, who are co-presidents of Tire Distributors of the Americas, officers include secretary Sean Franciscus and treasurer Brian Rose.
Point S Canada Moves Into New Atlantic Markets
The Point S Canada tire and service network has announced eight new branch openings across New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. This marks the network’s debut in three of the four Atlantic provinces. There are now 12 Point S locations in Atlantic Canada and more than 300 branches across all of eastern Canada.
Aftermarket Shops Come In Second, Third In 2018 Canadian Auto Service Study
J.D. Power Canada reports that non-dealership repair shops account for the majority of service occasions for four- to 12-year-old vehicles in Canada at 53.5 percent compared to 46.5 percent for dealerships. However, according to the company’s 2018 Canada Customer Service Index Long-Term Study, dealership service facilities have the greater share of overall service spend, capturing 53 percent of the total dollars spent on vehicle service over the past 12 months.
Interestingly, spending at Canadian aftermarket shops has grown from an average of CDN$204 per visit in 2017 to CDN$223 in 2018, while spending at dealerships has declined from CDN$303, on average, in 2017 to CDN$291 per visit in 2018.
J.D. Power’s research also found that younger vehicle owners are more likely to service their vehicles at non-dealership facilities, compared with Boomers and Pre-Boomers.
According to the study, prior experience plays a key role in customer retention and is cited by half of vehicle owners as one of the leading reasons for choosing a service facility (at 52 percent for those who chose a dealership and 50 percent for those who chose an aftermarket shop). The reason is more prominent among Boomers and Pre-Boomers (60 percent and 74 percent, respectively), while Gen Z and Gen Y owners tend to choose service facilities based on a recommendation provided by a friend or relative (36 percent and 26 percent, respectively).
Lexus dealerships ranked highest in overall customer service satisfaction for a fourth consecutive year, with an overall customer satisfaction index ranking of 826 on a 1,000-point scale. NAPA AUTOPRO came in second at 799, while Great Canadian Oil Change was third at 798.
Click here for more information on the study, including the full customer satisfaction index rankings. The study is based on responses from 10,681 vehicle owners. It was fielded between March and June.
With Millions In New Funding, YourMechanic Expanding In Canada
The mobile car repair network YourMechanic says it has landed $10.10 million in “Series B1” funding led by institutional and individual investors, including the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), SoftBank Capital, Verizon Ventures, American Family Ventures, Data Point Capital, and former General Motors chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, among others. (Wagoner also is an advisor to YourMechanic). Mountain View, CA-based YourMechanic is said to have secured $35.30 million in funding to date.
Management plans to use the new funds to accelerate the international expansion of YourMechanic’s mobile car repair platform — including expansion into Canada — as well as to build out additional services for rental, rideshare, corporate and government fleet managers.
YourMechanic connects mobile technicians to customers for vehicle repair work at their homes or offices, operating seven days a week. According to the company, YourMechanic has mechanics in more than 5,000 cities across the United States and now Canada. And, the company’s fleet program has reportedly doubled YourMechanic’s customer base in the rental, rideshare, corporate and government markets over the last 12 months.
Bosch Touts New Online, ‘On-Tool’ Technician Platform
Bosch Automotive has announced the launch of Technician Nation, an online and “on-tool” platform that includes a dashboard that aggregates service trends based on scans from techs using Bosch diagnostic tools. These trends can be segmented by geography, vehicle and code. The dashboard reveals trending vehicle issues in a shop’s area, can be used to identify if vehicle problems are trending locally or nationally, and can provide information to help diagnose a vehicle.
Knowing the geographic occurrence of specific vehicle codes, Bosch points out, can help shops plan for tool and equipment purchases, anticipate needed training, and validate vehicle issues with customers.
In addition to having access to data on the Technician Nation platform, subscribers will receive a Technician Nation e-newsletter with information on new trends, as well as tech tips, product updates, promotions and more.
Anyone can sign up to join the Technician Nation platform by visiting techniciannation.com, according to Bosch. And, techs who currently use Bosch diagnostic tools or OTC tools with Bosch hardware will have access to sign up for the e-newsletter through their current software.
Hunter Engineering Announces Inspection Integration With AutoVitals
The Hunter Engineering Co. has announced that AutoVitals’ digital platforms now integrate with Hunter’s latest inspection and alignment systems, including Quick Check Drive, Quick Check, Quick Tread and HawkEye Elite.
Inspection and alignment data collected from Hunter’s connected equipment is integrated into AutoVitals’ electronic multi-point inspections and auto-populated into inspection reports. This eliminates the need for manual data re-entry and paper inspections. Shops can present alignment, tire tread and battery health readings to customers via desktop systems, smartphones or tablets.
Repairify/asTech Opens Irving, TX Facility
Repairify Inc., maker of the asTech vehicle diagnostics device, has opened a 27,000-square-foot Center of Excellence facility in Irving, TX. The center includes a dedicated training and research area, along with space for additional master technicians, as well as a vehicle calibration center to service the western part of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
This new facility is in addition to the company’s existing headquarters in Plano, TX and location in Jacksonville, FL.
Alltech Automotive has multiple openings for Regional Sales Managers. We are looking for highly qualified candidates to cover North America. … (more) … Click here to find out more.
DC Battery Hub is looking for Rep Agencies across the U.S. and Canada. We have a complete line of Remanufactured and New Hybrid batteries. We offer 12, 36, and 60 (New) month warranty programs. … (more) … Click here to find out more.
The worldwide leader in circuit protection products and solutions, is seeking automotive aftermarket representation on the west coast (AZ, NV, CA). … (more) … Click here to find out more.
Motor’s FleetCross HD Parts XREF Now Available To Karmak Fusion Users
Motor Information Systems and Karmak Inc. have partnered to bring the FleetCross HD Parts XREF database to Karmak Fusion clients. The integration will allow users to access FleetCross to find equivalent parts for their customers without needing to switch to another application and return to their Fusion workflow to manually enter part numbers. It also allows users to see which manufacturers are able to provide necessary parts for customers finishing a repair or helps purchase a replacement part when a regular supplier is out of stock.
FleetCross contains 30 million records and half a billion cross-reference relationships for all makes – both OEM and aftermarket, according to Motor.
GM Offers Optional Extended Bumper-To-Bumper Limited Warranty
Effective immediately, customers buying new General Motors vehicles have the opportunity to purchase an extended bumper-to-bumper limited warranty resulting in five years or 60,000 miles of coverage (whichever comes first) on Chevrolet and GMC vehicles, and six years or 70,000 miles on Buicks and Cadillacs. This new warranty program is not a service contract.
The standard factory bumper-to-bumper limited warranty on Chevrolet and GMC products is three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. For Buicks and Cadillacs, it’s four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.
News Briefs 10/23/18
• Matt Curry, best known for the Curry’s Auto Service and The Hybrid Shop businesses, has opened his second Craftsman Auto Care center in Fairfax, VA. The company’s new Craftsman Auto Care concept features ASE-certified Master Technicians, and centers around top technology and a high level of workmanship, tackling especially difficult repair work. The initial Craftsman Auto Care shop opened this summer in Alexandria, VA.
• The Moran Family of Brands (Midlothian, IL) has recognized the following Franchisee of the Year award winners for 2018: John Olson, who owns two Multistate Transmission shops in the Ft. Worth, TX area; Albert and Serina Daniel, who own a Milex Complete Auto Care shop in Frederick, MD and added a Milex/Alta Mere co-branded store in Boonsboro, MD; and Randy Durham, who owns an Alta Mere The Automotive Outfitters store in Plano, TX.
• Jiffy Lube franchisee the Allied Lube Group plans to open six Jiffy Lube locations by the end of 2019. The company currently has 86 service centers across Texas — 47 of which are in the Houston area.
• Rad Air Complete Car Care & Tire Centers has opened, in Brunswick, OH, its 11th northeast Ohio location.
• Kukui Corp. has announced a partnership with the Midwest Auto Care Alliance. MWACA members will receive a 50-percent discount off the one-time Kukui set fee, a $99-discount on monthly fees, and a $300-rebate toward MWACA dues or a $300-credit toward Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo Conference registration. This benefit cannot be combined with any previously existing Kukui benefit.
• The Timken Co. has unveiled a “Cost of Comebacks” calculator to help shop owners increase profitability and improve customer satisfaction. The Timken site also includes videos to help technicians and their customers understand the importance of using quality parts to minimize comebacks.
• The 2019 Automotive Service & Technology Expo (ASTE) is scheduled for Sept. 27-28 at the Embassy Suites in Cary, NC.