Quick Hits …
(A few short items to get us started this week)
• Carstar has opened its 700th collision repair shop, a facility in Montrose, CA.
• Pep Boys has opened new Service & Tire Centers in Astoria, NY; Lawndale, CA; Rocklin, CA; and LaGrange, GA. The shops include both greenfield and acquired locations.
• On Oct. 12, Christian Brothers Automotive held a coordinated service event in which over 180 shops in its network donated oil changes and other services to people in need. It marked the company’s ninth annual National Service Day event.
• Asset Recovery Advisors (ARA) — a Palm Beach Gardens, FL-based company that specializes in asset-based liquidations of fixtures, furniture and equipment — is currently liquidating 16 national auto centers. The liquidation includes alignment machines, lifts, tire changers, wheel balancers and more. Click here for more information on the offering.
• Despite a record number of passenger vehicle recall campaigns in 2018, the number of vehicles affected by recalls has stabilized to between 25 million and 30 million vehicles annually, according to the 2019 Automotive Defect & Recall Report from the Chicago-based global advisory and consulting firm Stout. The firm asserts that the size of recall campaigns is shrinking — a sign that the automotive industry is more proactively identifying and responding to defects. Stout’s report analyzes recall activities, trends and risk from an array of sources, including NHTSA. Click here for more information about the report.
Bosch, Castrol Launch Co-Branded Repair Shop Pilot In United States, China
Castrol is partnering with the automotive aftermarket division of Robert Bosch to pilot co-branded repair shops in the United States and China, beginning this month in Central Florida and Suzhou, China. The companies expect the pilot program to encompass as many as 25 shops in each of these markets.
Expansion beyond the initial test phase will be decided after completion of the pilot program, according to an Oct. 10 announcement. And, the operation of existing Castrol- and Bosch-branded repair shop networks will not be impacted by this initiative, the companies stated.
In the announcement, Bosch Automotive Aftermarket President Manfred Baden pointed out that Bosch has offered quality products and services for repair shops for many decades. “Together with Castrol, our two leading brands will join forces for a new workshop concept to serve today’s and tomorrow’s market needs, and to reach more business partners and drivers,” Baden said. “This new offer pursues our goal of providing our customers with a comprehensive, future-oriented range of mobility services for various kinds of vehicles.”
“We are committed to leveraging our longstanding expertise in innovative lubricants technologies, brand and marketing, digital, and consumer insights to develop sustainable workshop businesses built around value-adding consumer experiences,” Castrol CEO Mandhir Singh stated. “We are delighted to see this vision shared by our partner Bosch, with their complementary values in technology and channel management. The outcome of the pilots will help us create a leading workshop network for the future.”
Point S Forges China Joint Venture
The global tire and auto care network Point S is entering the Chinese market with a local partner, Suremoov, whose 950 franchised outlets are joining the international Point S network. Suremoov, which has been around since 2004, specializes in body work and car care.
The joint venture is called Point S China. It will serve as an addition to Suremoov’s existing network, with a concept focused on quick repair service and tire sales. Management expects to add 1,000 Point S franchised centers in China within five years. Two pilot locations will be operational before the end of the year.
Point S bills itself as the world’s largest network of automotive and tire service centers under one banner, with 4,350 outlets across 37 countries.
Monro’s New COO Has Strong Ties To CEO Brett Ponton
Monro Inc. has added Rob Rajkowski as its COO. Rajkowski comes to Monro from AAMCO Transmission & Total Car Care, where he also was COO. Prior to that, he was chief marketing officer for Heartland Automotive Services, the largest operator of Jiffy Lube shops in North America.
Rajkowski’s background also includes numerous roles with The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, including director of marketing and merchandising and general manager of the Goodyear Retail Stores division.
As COO of Monro, Rajkowski oversees and spearheads the integration of Monro’s operations, marketing and merchandising functions. He also is responsible for all aspects of the company’s store operations, including the ongoing execution of management’s “Monro Forward” operational excellence initiatives.
Rajkowski reports to President and CEO Brett Ponton, with whom he shares strong ties.
Prior to joining Monro in 2017, Ponton was the CEO of American Driveline Systems, parent company to AAMCO, as well as Cottman Transmission Systems and Global Powertrain Systems LLC. Ponton also was the president and CEO of Heartland Automotive Services and spent 16 years with Goodyear, including time as the vice president of marketing for the North America tire division.
Lyft Drivers Now Get Auto Repair Discounts, Perks Via Openbay
Lyft is partnering with Openbay to provide its drivers with access to affordable and convenient automotive service. Openbay offers Lyft drivers a select network of automotive service businesses that have certified mechanics and technicians in their area, including independent, regional and national automotive service centers. And, Lyft drivers get special service discounts as well as Openbay rewards to use toward future service.
The collaboration is available to drivers in the following locations …
• Albuquerque, NM
• Washington, DC
• New Orleans
• Providence, RI
• Salt Lake City
RepairPal Announces Partnership
RepairPal’s Certified Network is now the preferred provider for Omega Auto Care extended warranty products. When an Omega Auto Care customer takes a vehicle to get repaired at one of the network’s 2,500 repair shops, the $100 deductible is waived. RepairPal also has partnerships with USAA and CarMax.
Leeds West Groups Buys Big O Locations In New Mexico
Leeds West Groups (LWG) — a management platform that acquires, owns and manages Midas Auto Service Experts, Speedee Oil and Big O Tires auto repair franchises — has entered the New Mexico Big O Tires market with the purchase of six locations across the state. New Mexico is LWG’s 17th state and its third with a Big O Tires presence.
The New Mexico move marks the 14th new Big O Tires location added to LWG’s portfolio in the last 80 days. LWG now has 23 Big O Tires locations and 102 total locations nationwide across the Midas, Speedee Oil, and Big O Tires banners.
Judd Kyle Shader, LWG’s CEO and a member of the board of directors, called entering the New Mexico market a “no brainer” for Greenwood Village, CO-based LWG.
“It allows us to build out the states surrounding Colorado, continuing to create consolidation and large expansion opportunities for us along the I-25 corridor and the Midwest region,” Shader explained. “We are also committed to shifting our acquisition focus to larger-scale growth opportunities, and this deal aligns perfectly with our growth objectives and operational strengths under our COO Derek Wessels and Big O Division Vice President James Gould. We look forward to filling in the Colorado-to-New Mexico corridor, along with our expected fast-paced growth in the Midwest region.”
Big O Tires New Mexico will operate under the control of Wessels and Gould, who serves as vice president of LWG’s Big O Tires division.
“I am very excited about the New Mexico Big O Tires market and expanding what my team has done in Colorado now down the I-25 corridor,” Gould said. “This is a great opportunity for my team to learn and continue to create great scalability with increased career paths for our team members into even more locations.”
Study: Tire Sales Show Growing Desire For Larger Vehicles
The NPD Group, in an analysis of tire sales data, reports that there’s a growing desire in the United States for trucks, SUVs and CUVs. Larger tires (defined as those with 17-inch and larger rim diameters) have gained nearly 12 unit share points over the last three years, according to retail sales data from NPD.
Larger tires now account for almost half of all passenger car and light-truck units sold across the United States, the group’s research indicates.
“We’re seeing a greater number of bigger vehicles on the road today and in manufacturers’ new lineups. Sedan sales have slowed dramatically over the last few years, as SUVs and CUVs are growing in popularity,” said Nathan Shipley, automotive industry analyst at NPD. “Larger-rim-diameter tires are performing well as a result of this shift.
“The fundamentals of the automotive industry couldn’t be stronger,” Shipley added. “Miles driven annually is currently at its highest level. More drivers and vehicles are on the road than ever before. And, the unemployment rate has been trending at historical lows, meaning consumers are driving to work. All of these things point to a very healthy automotive industry, which includes the tires business.”
According to NPD’s Retail Tire Tracking Service, U.S. replacement tire sales have increased 3% over the past year. and unit sales have grown even faster, up 4.5%. Passenger car and light-truck tires make up the largest segment of the U.S. market with unit sales in this segment up 4% year-over-year.
Cooper Debuts Ad Campaign
The Cooper Tire & Rubber Company has unveiled a national ad campaign that centers on a new character called Uncle Cooper, who is billed as a no-nonsense relative who’s an expert on all things automotive and who would never steer drivers wrong about the right tires. The initiative includes television spots, as well as digital and print elements. Cooper worked with Fallon Worldwide on the campaign.
New Tennessee Plant Key To Nokian’s North American Growth Plans
Nokian Tyres has opened an 830,000-square-foot production factory in Dayton, TN. Management expects the plant to make roughly 4 million tires annually — a mix of all-season and all-weather products — once production reaches full capacity. The factory is currently in the trial production stage. It’s expected to be ready to make tires for commercial use in early 2020.
The plant is a key part of management’s goal for Nokian to double its North American sales in five years. Its opening comes about a year after the company opened a new North American headquarters in Nashville.
AMI Adds Three New Trustees
The Automotive Management Institute (AMI) has added three new members to its board of trustees: Michael Brewster of Gil’s Garage in Burnt Hills, NY; Jim Silverman of the Automotive Training Institute in Linthicum, MD; and Mary Steele of ASA Florida in Punta Gorda, FL.
Current board members are …
• Darrell Amberson of LaMettry’s Collision in Eden Prairie, MN
• Scott Brown of the Diagnostic Network in Claremont, CA
• Roy Schnepper of Butler’s Collision in Roseville, MI
• Mike Schoonover of Schnoonver Body Works in Shoreview, MN
• Ray Fisher, president of the Automotive Service Association in North Richland Hills, TX
The 2019-‘20 AMI executive committee is composed of …
• Chair: Darrell Amberson
• Vice Chair: Jim Silverman
• Treasurer: Roy Schnepper
• Secretary: Mary Steele
Agenda Set For NASTF Fall General Meeting In Las Vegas
NASTF will hold its fall general meeting Nov. 6 at the Sands Expo Convention Center in conjunction with AAPEX. NASTF has had an unprecedented year on multiple fronts. Featured presentations will include …
• Bob Augustine of Drew Technologies, who will address why the industry needs to adjust its focus regarding ADAS.
• NASTF’s registry management team will discuss shutting down counterfeiters and protecting legitimate repair businesses.
• Jim Silverman of the Automotive Training Institute will lead a panel discussion on repair order technology.
• NASTF’s communications and service technology teams will demonstrate the task force’s new website.
AAPEX registration is not required to attend NASTF general meeting sessions. For more information about the meeting, email Holly Wolfe at email@example.com.
Virtual Vehicle Challenge Returns To AAPEX
AAPEX 2019 attendees can again take part in the Virtual Vehicle Challenge, virtually installing parts on a vehicle and competing for the best time. Daily, participants with the fastest time will receive free AAPEX 2020 registration and housing for as many as four nights.
New this year, cars will race on a track with bends and turns similar to a Formula 1 track. Participants will first make their cars in a virtual reality garage. Cars then are added to a virtual vehicle track, with four cars racing at the same time.
AAPEX 2019 will take place Tuesday, Nov. 5 through Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas. Click here for more information.
Driven Brands Buys ABRA’s Franchising Subsidiary
Driven Brands has acquired ABRA Automotive Systems LP, the franchising subsidiary of ABRA Auto Body Repair of America. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal excludes corporately-owned ABRA shops that Caliber Collision Centers purchased earlier this year.
The move adds 55 franchised collision repair facilities to Driven Brands’ collision portfolio, which includes Carstar, which has doubled in size since Driven Brands made its initial acquisition in 2015.
The 55 franchised ABRA shops will retain their current branding and join a recently created collision vertical housing both the Carstar and ABRA brands. According to an Oct. 2 announcement, Driven Brands plans to
continue its aggressive growth in the collision space under its proven leadership and recognized operational platforms.
Michael Macaluso now oversees both Carstar and ABRA as the president of Driven’s new collision vertical. Dean Fisher has taken on Macaluso’s previous role as the president of Carstar.
Charlotte-based Driven Brands now has more than 2,800 locations across North America, including Meineke Car Care Centers, Maaco and Take 5 Oil Change shops.
Sherwin-Williams, Larsen Motorsports Launch Scholarship Program
Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes — in partnership with Larsen Motorsports (LMS) — is establishing a scholarship program designed to address the talent shortage facing the automotive industry, specifically collision repair.
Through the Blazing Trails Scholarship Fund, Blazing Trails will add a specific focus on automotive service and collision repair programs at the post-secondary level to its existing vocational and technical training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Blazing Trails’ mission is to assist children who have goals that they want to achieve, but are unable to pursue those goals because of a lack of money, time or guidance.
Sherwin-Williams and LMS will award a set number of students with one year of tuition. The amount of the scholarship money awarded to each student will depend upon the institution’s annual tuition fee. Students must be enrolled at one of the following participating trade schools or technical/community colleges …
• Baton Rouge Community College in Baton Rouge, LA
• Madison Area Technical College in Madison, WI
• Oakland Community College in Bloomfield Hills, MI
• Ohio Technical College in Cleveland
• Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, KS
• WyoTech in Laramie, WY
Sherwin-Williams will support the scholarship fund at the SEMA Show this year, auctioning off more than 30 art panels airbrushed and pinstriped by some of the industry’s biggest names. All proceeds from the sale of artwork will be used to award scholarships in the 2020-‘21 school year.
Southeast Toyota Distributors Selects CCC For Collision Parts Marketing
Southeast Toyota Distributors has selected the Promote platform from CCC Information Services Inc. to price and promote parts to collision repair facilities while estimates are being written. According to CCC, Promote provides OEMs with a way to present promotional pricing early in the estimating process when replacement part decisions are being made. Prices can be customized by vehicle make, model, year or part type.
Promote is a component of the CCC Parts e-commerce platform. The two work together to automate and streamline parts sourcing from upfront promotional pricing to electronic price quotes, ordering, invoicing and the rebate settlement process with the manufacturer.
Southeast Toyota serves 177 independent Toyota dealerships across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Repairify/asTech Adds CFO
Plano, TX-based Repairify Inc. — a cloud-based automotive technology and diagnostic services provider and parent company to asTech — has added Teresa Covington as its CFO. Covington brings more than 20 years of C-level experience with publicly held and privately owned companies.
Most recently, she was the senior vice president and CFO of AeroVironment, a publicly traded company that designs, manufactures and distributes unmanned aerial vehicles. Her background also includes time as the senior vice president and CFO of Line 6, a designer and manufacturer of musical instruments, as well as various financial leadership roles with Mattel Toys, Harman International Industries and Equity Marketing Inc.
Mitchell Launches Intelligent Estimating Technology
Mitchell International’s new artificial intelligence claims automation technology, Mitchell Intelligent Estimating, will be available to U.S. early-adopter carriers in the first quarter of 2020. Intelligent Estimating is designed to predict and pre-populate all possible portions of an estimate. Appraisers can then further complete, review and approve the pre-written estimate.
Intelligent Estimating generates detailed auto physical damage estimates — including parts, operations and labor details — based on photos of vehicle damage transmitted by a policyholder, a repair facility or a staff appraiser.
Study: Pedestrian Detection Systems Don’t Work When Needed Most
New research from AAA indicates that automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian detection perform inconsistently and, at night, completely ineffectively.
In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA evaluated the performance of four midsize sedans equipped with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection to determine the effectiveness of these systems. Testing was conducted on a closed course using simulated pedestrian targets.
According to the motoring club, the systems also were challenged by real-world situations, such as a vehicle turning right into the path of an adult. In this scenario, AAA reports, systems did not react at all, colliding with the adult pedestrian target every time.
The following scenarios also were tested …
• An adult crossing in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph and 30 mph during the day and 25 mph at night.
• A child darting out from between two parked cars in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph and 30 mph.
• Two adults standing along the side of the road with their backs to traffic, with a vehicle approaching at 20 mph and 30 mph.
According to AAA, the systems performed best in the instance of the adult crossing in front of a vehicle traveling at 20 mph during the day. In this case, the systems avoided a collision 40% of the time. However, at the higher speed of 30 mph, most systems failed to avoid a collision with the simulated pedestrian target.
The other scenarios proved to be more challenging for the systems. When encountering a child darting from between two cars, with the vehicle traveling at 20 mph, a collision occurred 89% of the time. When approaching two adults standing alongside the road, with the vehicle traveling at 20 mph, a collision occurred 80% of the time.
In general, the systems were ineffective in all scenarios where the vehicle was traveling at 30 mph, AAA reports. And, at night, none of the systems detected or reacted to the adult pedestrian.
AAA supports the continued development of pedestrian detection systems, specifically when it comes to improving functionality at night and in circumstances where drivers are most likely to encounter pedestrians.
“Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise, proving how important the safety impact of these systems could be when further developed,” Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations, said in an Oct. 3 announcement. “But, our research found that current systems are far from perfect and still require an engaged driver behind the wheel.”
Spectra Premium Industries, a leading North American Auto Parts Manufacturer, is seeking a Category Manager (CM) for the North American market. The CM’s primary responsibility is to enable Spectra Premium and their customers to grow sales through objective category expertise in order to deliver the best possible distribution, pricing, merchandising and promotional results. … (more) … Click here to find out more.
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.
News Briefs 10/21/19
• Minnesota Careers in Auto Repair & Service (MNCARS) has released new videos to expand its outreach and raise awareness of career opportunities in the automotive service and collision repair industry. The videos feature students who are currently enrolled in automotive programs discussing how they got there and what they love about the industry. The videos are available on the MNCARS YouTube channel.
• With its newest software, Snap-on Inc. has introduced its Secure Vehicle Gateway solution to unlock 2018 and newer FCA vehicles for direct access from the scan tool to the vehicle’s secure gateway module. According to Snap-on, Wi-Fi-enabled diagnostic platforms using current software now have the ability to perform reset functions and bi-directional tests that were previously inaccessible
• Bridgestone Americas and the Nashville Predators have announced an extension to the naming rights agreement for Bridgestone Arena through 2030.
• Point S will be sponsoring the Women’s Handball World Championship taking place Nov. 30 to Dec. 15 in Kumumoto, Japan. The global tire and auto care network also is involved at a national and international level with the International Handball Federation.
• Tyrata Inc., a tire sensor and data management company, has expanded its IntelliTread tire tread wear sensor platform to include a low-profile, drive-over system (DOS). IntelliTread DOS provides data regarding tire tread wear when a vehicle drives over the low-profile, speed bump-like unit.
• Michelin North America has renewed its gold-level partnership with the Women In Trucking Association (WIT) with an eye toward increasing the number of women employed in the industry. In addition to providing financial support, Michelin actively participates in the association. Adam Murphy, vice president of business-to-business marketing, serves on the WIT board of directors.
• MacQueen Emergency, part of the MacQueen Group, has acquired Rescue Repair, a Missouri-based mobile repair provider for fire, ambulance and rescue equipment. The addition allows MacQueen to provide equipment, parts and service throughout the state.
• James Benedict from The Service Company in Dayton, OH, is the 2019 HDA Truck Pride “Top Tech.” It was Benedict’s second year competing for the Top Tech spot.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 10/21/19
• Automotive Distribution Network management met with the Parts Plus Car Care Center Advisory Council on Oct. 11 to discuss the 2020 Car Care Center program, which is scheduled to roll out on Nov. 1. The meeting also included a presentation from the Automotive Training Institute, a consulting and coaching company that serves auto and collision repair shops.
• Valvoline Inc. hosted the semi-annual Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper Service Center Advisory Council meeting Oct. 8-11 in Lexington, KY.
• CRP Automotive (Cranbury, NJ) will feature Charles Sanville, host of The Humble Mechanic podcast and YouTube channel, at its booth at AAPEX. Sanville will produce videos with CRP Automotive product managers, as well as host Q&A sessions with fans.
• Lincoln Tech on Oct. 5 celebrated the 100th anniversary of its Nashville Auto-Diesel College (NADC), with more than 500 guests and alumni reportedly in attendance. NADC has educated tens of thousands of technicians for the auto, diesel, collision repair, heavy equipment and welding industries. Click here to read about the college’s history.