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Service Executive Issue #15-18 (Full)

Monro Reports Strongest Comps In Over 30 Quarters

For the fiscal second quarter ended Sept. 29, 2018, Rochester, NY-based Monro Inc. came through with $307.11 million in sales — an increase of $29.09 million, or 10.5 percent over the previous year. According to management, the total sales increase came from a 3.2-percent rise in comparable-store sales, as well as $19.90 million in sales from new stores (including $15.60 million in sales from recent acquisitions).

The 3.2-percent comp-store sales gain marked the highest quarterly comp increase since the third quarter of fiscal 2011. It’s also worth noting that Monro has now reported three consecutive quarters of positive comps for the first time since fiscal 2011.

Overall, the company’s fiscal second quarter comp-store sales growth came from higher average ticket, which management attributed to improved in-store execution, as well as strength from the brakes and tires categories.

Comp-store sales increased 12 percent for brakes — an acceleration from the 7-percent comp-store sales growth the company reported last quarter. It’s worth pointing out that Monro launched its good/better/best brake packages in the previous quarter and raised its package prices. And, despite higher prices, the company’s brake transaction volume grew 6 percent in the fiscal second quarter.

Tire comps were up 3 percent, driven by higher ticket and stable unit volume. President and CEO Brett Ponton told analysts on the company’s Oct. 25 conference call that Monro’s optimized tire sales and pricing strategy were a key factor. Notably, it was the third consecutive quarter of positive tire comps.

Maintenance services and front end/shocks comps were flat. Alignments were down 1 percent.

Monro’s gross profit rose 11.1 percent to $119.95 million, while gross margins increased 30 basis points to 39.1 percent. On a comp-store basis, gross margins were up roughly 120 basis points. Net income rose 26 percent to $21.76 million.

Ponton said that Monro’s sales momentum continued into October, where comps were up roughly 7 percent through Oct. 25, which he ascribed to strength in the tire business. He added that the company’s positive topline trends are expected to continue throughout the remainder of fiscal 2019 and beyond.

Analysts with Jefferies LLC wrote in an Oct. 25 Company Note that strong tire category comps thus far in October appear to be driven by a combination of unit volume and higher-priced product mix as opposed to price mix, which drove the category’s 3-percent comp in the fiscal second quarter as unit volume contracted.

Based on current sales, business and economic trends — as well as recently announced and completed acquisitions — management now anticipates Monro’s fiscal 2019 sales to come in between $1.19 billion and $1.22 billion. That works out as an increase of 5.1 percent to 7.7 percent compared to fiscal 2018. It also is an increase from Monro’s previous guidance calling for $1.18 billion to $1.21 billion in sales.

Management’s fiscal 2019 sales guidance continues to assume a comp-store sales increase between 1 percent and 3 percent.        — Marc Vincent


Monro CEO Provides Updates On Store Refresh, Websites And More

During the company’s fiscal second quarter financial results conference call, Monro Inc. president and CEO Brett Ponton updated analysts on a number of initiatives underway at the vehicle service and repair chain. Among them is a program launched at the beginning of the current quarter (for Monro, that’s the third quarter of fiscal 2019) to standardize the company’s in-store operating procedures.

This initiative, which the company calls the “Monro Playbook,” is centered around establishing brand standards for all of its locations. The program launched at 30 pilot locations in the Rochester, NY area.

“We have trained our teams at these stores on our in-store operating procedures, which take an educational approach to the customer-selling process and include clearly defined roles and responsibilities for our teammates,” Ponton explained. “Our objective is to empower our teammates as expert advisors who can clearly and professionally advise our customers on their options based upon their specific vehicle’s needs.”

Monro also has begun to implement brand standards designed to align the appearance of its shops. Thus far, the company has refreshed the appearance of four of its 30 Rochester pilot locations. “So far, our store refresh initiative is showing encouraging signs of traction,” Ponton said.

He added: “While we are still in the early stages of the refresh, the double-digit improvement in comparable-store sales we have seen at these locations since launch reinforces our confidence in the rollout of this initiative across our store base.”

Once this pilot phase is complete, management plans to roll out its brand operational standards across Monro’s store base and modernize its portfolio of 1,179 locations over the next three to five years. Ponton said management will be mindful to determine the appropriate scope of refresh needed for each of its stores by examining their age, size and market demographics “to ensure we are investing the appropriate amount of capital to achieve the highest possible returns.”

He told analysts that the company also made strides in management’s customer-centric engagement initiatives during the fiscal second quarter.

“As planned, we launched our data analytics-based [customer relationship management (CRM)] platform, which will enable us to leverage customer data and insights to deliver tailored messages and service recommendations to our customers based on their specific vehicle needs,” Ponton stated. “Our new CRM platform is the core foundation of our data-driven marketing strategy and will be instrumental in the development of long-term, one-to-one customer relationships to drive higher customer retention.

“Through this database, we are able to repurpose our marketing spend to invest in higher ROI channels and customer acquisition campaigns.”

During the quarter, Monro also rolled out its modernized retail and corporate websites — the first phase in management’s omni-channel initiative.

“Our new retail website better positions us to address our customers’ needs. Importantly, it also better showcases the solutions we provide to our customers, including our good/better/best product and service packages,” Ponton said on the call. “Only a month after the launch, we are encouraged to see that this new format is driving more traffic and keeping our customers engaged on our website longer.

“We are excited to report that we have experienced a double-digit increase in the number of new visitors and the average time spent on our site since launch. Additionally, the upgrade to a mobile-capable architecture has translated into a 40-percent increase in mobile appointment conversion rates.”

Ponton also told analysts that Monro was able to return to a flat staffing model during the fiscal second quarter by “rightsizing” overstaffed stores, offsetting the labor deployed to understaffed stores last quarter. “Our store technician labor optimization translated into a gross margin tailwind this quarter and will allow us to achieve overall greater store efficiency going forward,” he said.

Ponton added that Monro is on track to implement a cloud-based, data-driven store staffing and scheduling system during the first quarter of fiscal 2020. The goal here is to drive further staffing efficiency by rebalancing the level of technical skills in each shop so that Monro’s locations are staffed with technicians that have the appropriate skill level for the services needed.



Monro Acquiring Shops In Ohio, Southeast

Monro Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire five retail locations in Ohio, filling in an existing market. These locations are expected to add approximately $5 million in annualized sales, representing a sales mix of 70 percent service and 30 percent tires. The acquisition is expected to close in the current quarter.

The company also has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 13 retail locations in the Southeast, also filling in an existing market. These locations are expected to add roughly $12 million in annualized sales, representing a sales mix of 65 percent service and 35 percent tires. This acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of calendar year 2019.

Monro also reported that a previously announced acquisition of seven stores has been delayed because of “an extended due diligence period.” The deal is now expected to close in the first quarter of calendar year 2019. These locations represent about $8 million in annualized sales.

Going forward, Monro will continue to capitalize on consolidation opportunities in the marketplace, President and CEO Brett Ponton told analysts on the company’s Oct. 25 quarterly report conference call. “We currently have a very robust M&A pipeline with over 10 [non-disclosure agreements] signed with targets that have between five and 40 stores, which has been our traditional deal sweet spot,” Ponton said.


Oil Changers Acquisition Complete

Valvoline Inc. has completed its previously announced acquisition of the business assets of Oil Changers Inc., which adds 31 franchised quick lubes in Ontario. Valvoline’s quick lube network now has roughly 1,270 company-owned and franchised locations across North America — over 100 of which are in Canada.

Management plans to rebrand the Oil Changers shops to the Great Canadian Oil Change banner over time.

“The acquisition of Great Canadian Oil Change in July gave us a solid foundation to expand our footprint outside of the U.S.,” said Valvoline CEO Sam Mitchell. “Oil Changers is an exceptionally well-run operation, with a reputation for excellent customer service in Ontario. We look forward to working with Oil Changers’ franchisees to grow their business, add more locations, and expand the scale and presence of Valvoline’s Great Canadian Oil Change brand in Canada.”


New Tire & Service Platform Company Formed

The Greenbriar Equity Group of Rye, NY has acquired the Tire Works, Ramona Tire and BrakeMax retail tire and service chains, which together operate approximately 50 shops across the Southwest. They are part of a new platform company called GB Auto Service Inc. Details of Greenbriar’s acquisition have not been disclosed.

Greenbriar focuses on privately negotiated investments in the global transportation industry, with an emphasis on both manufacturers and service providers. Since its founding in 1999, Greenbriar says it has raised over $2.50 billion in committed capital across three funds.

It is no stranger to the automotive industry. Among its current investments are the Morgan Auto Group, an auto dealership network based in Florida; and Muth Mirror Systems, a supplier of mirror-based blind spot detection displays. Among its prior investments are American Tire Distributors; Tinnerman Palnut Engineered Products, a producer of engineered spring steel and plastic fastening products; and PetroChoice, a distributor of passenger vehicle lubricants.


Goodyear Rolls Out Veterans Day Promo

Goodyear Auto Service and Just Tires locations are running a “Checks for Vets” program nationwide Nov. 9-11 that includes free tire, brake and battery checks for military members, as well as police, fire and paramedic first responders. They also will receive 10 percent off Goodyear, Kelly and Dunlop tires. Appointments can be booked online beginning Nov. 9 — during the in-store promotional period — through Nov. 16 to be eligible for the offers.

Goodyear Auto Service and Just Tires locations also are donating $5 to Folds of Honor for every veteran or first responder who redeems a “Checks for Vets” offer during the promotional period (up to $10,000). Folds of Honor is a nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to families of military members who have died or been disabled while on active duty in the U.S. armed forces.


Big O Tires Expands Into North Dakota

Big O Tires — one of North America’s largest retail tire franchisors with nearly 450 independently owned and operated locations — has expanded into North Dakota with a location in Mandan, which is near the state capital of Bismarck. North Dakota is now Big O Tires’ 24th state.


CarAdvise Is Now Uber Pro’s Exclusive Repair, Maintenance Partner

On Nov. 1, Uber launched a new program in eight U.S. cities with CarAdvise, a vehicle repair and maintenance technology platform. CarAdvise is now the exclusive repair and maintenance platform partner for the recently launched Uber Pro beta program. The partnership is designed to make car care more cost-effective and convenient for the rideshare company’s 1 million driver partners.

With CarAdvise, Uber driver partners are able to schedule service, approve work and pay from their smartphones. They can also get access to discounts that average 25 percent off retail within the CarAdvise network, compare prices, be notified of maintenance recommendations and review their maintenance history.

CarAdvise reports that its technology is integrated with over 20,000 shops nationwide.


AAA Offering Free Lyft Rides To/From Shops In Select Markets

AAA has announced a collaboration with the rideshare company Lyft to provide mobility services to AAA members and customers. In select markets, AAA and Lyft are offering free rides to customers at certain AAA-owned and -operated car care centers.

Until recently, AAA has offered car care customers complimentary shuttle rides to their destination. Now, with Lyft’s concierge platform, select AAA shops can schedule complimentary Lyft rides for customers traveling to or from these shops. Customers do not need the Lyft app or a smartphone.

This program is currently operating at AAA Car Care Centers in Maryland and select cities* in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

“AAA clubs and Lyft are playing an important role in exploring and testing mobility opportunities,” said Marshall Doney, AAA president and CEO. “Over time, we expect the collaboration to offer additional transportation resources to meet the evolving needs of members.”

* The cities with operating car care programs are …
• Ohio: Beavercreek, Cincinnati, Dayton, Fairfax, Forest Park, Franklin, Harrison, Huber Heights, Lebanon, Maineville, Milford, Perrysburg, Toledo and West Chester
• Pennsylvania: Clifton Heights, Downingtown, Philadelphia, Warminster, Wayne, West Chester and Willow Grove
• Virginia: Fairfax East, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Glenside, Manassas, Richmond and Swift Creek (Richmond)
• Kentucky: Alexandria, Florence, Ft. Wright, Newport and Walton
• Indiana: Aurora



CarMD Launches First B2B Product Corp. (Irvine, CA) has debuted its first B2B product, CarMD Pro Scan. Technicians plug the hardware into a car’s OBD port while it’s in the service bay. Pro Scan then scans every module on the vehicle, whether it’s associated with a warning light or not, according to CarMD.

When the scan is complete, a report displays an overview of freeze frame, I/M status, network scan results, OBD2 codes, pending DTCs, possible causes, upcoming maintenance and predicted diagnostics. Dashboard and reporting options allow the shop to customize the customer reports with its logo and the ability to offer coupons for upcoming maintenance and service.

“As vehicles become more reliable, customers bring their cars into the shop less frequently, which is why it is vital to help shops capitalize on each visit,” said Jim Dykstra, vice president of business development and strategy for CarMD and CEO of the Dytech Auto Group. “The CarMD Pro Scan solution is designed to help take care of customer cars more fully than with just a visual inspection by finding hidden work to drive sales.”

The service taps into CarMD’s database of maintenance, repair and vehicle data, and does not require an always-connected dongle. CarMD is marketing the product to small and large repair facilities, lube and oil facilities, and tire and body shops for a monthly fee.


Epicor Introduces Inspection/Workflow Product

Epicor Software Corp. has introduced a new workflow product, Epicor Smart Inspection 2.0, designed to help shops more quickly diagnose, document and estimate repairs.

“The Smart Inspection 2.0 solution helps service businesses grow by streamlining and digitizing several of the most time-intensive steps in an automotive service transaction,” said Stephen Gannon, Epicor’s senior director, automotive, product management and development. “It also helps users, both in the repair bay and at the service desk, avoid mistakes and more quickly and accurately identify needed repairs.”

Users of the device, which is optimized for use on mobile devices, begin an inspection by scanning a VIN or manually entering make, model and year information. This data triggers associated specifications and part and labor lookups via the Epicor PartExpert eCatalog. Optional integration with select vehicle diagnostic tools also is available.

The service writer or technician uses the inspection results and associated parts and labor lookups to assemble and email (or print) a comprehensive estimate, including photos, for customer approval. The product also allows users to view pricing and availability of parts and related supplies via connected local suppliers, and to order these items with a click.


Epicor Adds New Feature For Its Estimator And B2B E-Store Users

Users of Epicor Software’s Integrated Service Estimator (ISE) and Parts Network B2B eStore products now have access to vehicle-specific parts replacement intelligence. The new tool was developed in collaboration with the Epicor Industry Data Analytics team.

The ISE and B2B eStore offerings now include a Vehicle Repair Profile link to the Top 20 types of replacement parts most commonly ordered for the corresponding vehicle application. The eStore technology links more than 30,000 registered wholesaler locations with over 200,000 service dealer and other buyer accounts.

“The Vehicle Repair Profile provides analytics that enable shops to establish consultative consumer engagement for increased loyalty and often a greater share of the customer’s repair budget,” said Stephen Gannon, Epicor’s senior director, automotive product management and development.

A shop using Epicor ISE and/or the B2B eStore can click on the Vehicle Repair Profile button to determine which parts have the highest consumption rates for each customer’s vehicle. Shops can use this repair intelligence to help guide inspections and uncover previously undiagnosed repair needs. In addition, the service writer can advise the customer of potential reliability issues associated with certain parts.


R.O. Writer Releases Version 2.4

R.O. Writer has released Version 2.4 of its software for general repair and tire shops. According to the company, the new version of R.O. Writer was designed to make it easier for all of its customers to purchase parts from suppliers that are fully integrated in the system. Customers now have the option to use R.O. Writer’s Smart eCat catalog for online parts or locate the parts they need from partners’ parts catalogs, including Federated Auto Parts.

Version 2.4 also includes the centralized management and scheduling of software upgrades aimed at helping multi-shop owners schedule, manage and run cloud-based updates for multiple shops at the same time.


Bartec USA Touts Partnership Integration With TCS

Bartec USA, a TPMS diagnostic tools company, has announced an alliance with TCS, an ARI company. This partnership integration allows tire and automotive dealers that use the Tech200Pro tool to capture and send tread depth measurements and tire pressure readings to the TCS Digital Inspections App as well as the Tireworks HD software interface. This marks the first time that Bartec is facilitating an integration from the Tech200Pro with a software provider.



Dealer Tire Announces ‘Significant Investment’

Bain Capital Private Equity has made an undisclosed “significant investment” in Cleveland-based Dealer Tire, which manages replacement tire and parts programs for more than 20 automotive OEMs in the United States and China. The investment is earmarked for accelerating Dealer Tire’s growth and expansion.

Financial terms of the private investment were not disclosed. The transaction — which is expected to close in December — is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval.

Proceeds from Bain’s investment will be used to purchase the interests of Lindsay Goldberg LLC, which has been Dealer Tire’s investment partner since 2014. Dealer Tire will continue to operate under the leadership of its current management team, led by CEO Scott Mueller and President Dean Mueller.

Scott Mueller — also a founding partner of Dealer Tire — said Lindsay Goldberg’s support has allowed the company to expand its business and invest in opportunities that position Dealer Tire for continued growth. “We’re excited about our new partnership with Bain Capital because their reputation, track record, and investment philosophy align well with Dealer Tire’s goals and values,” Mueller stated.

Bain has experience in the services, consumer and industrial sectors, having made investments in such companies as ASIMCO, Autodistribution, European finTyre Distribution, Sensata Technologies and TI Automotive.

Joseph Robbins, a managing director at Bain, said Dealer Tire has a unique value proposition that employs innovation and technology to help customers and partners seize opportunities in tire replacement sales and service.

“We are excited to partner with the Mueller family and the talented management team they have assembled as they continue to expand the company’s platform to support dealers, OEMs, tire manufacturers and web-based customers in accelerating their growth in this vibrant industry sector,” Robbins said in an announcement dated Oct. 23.

Dealer Tire provides dealers with tools to sell tires, such as training, inventory management, retail pricing support, marketing material, road hazard coverage, warranty assistance and more. It serves more than 10,000 automotive dealerships from nearly 40 distribution centers across the United States.

Bain’s investment comes as Dealer Tire is expanding its platform.

In May, Dealer Tire invested in SimpleTire LLC, an online marketplace with a virtual inventory model that facilitates web-based tire sales. Earlier this year, it also made an investment in Tyrata Inc., a tire sensor and data management company.


Mickey Thompson Tires & Wheels Hires Sales VP

Mickey Thompson Tires & Wheels (Stow, OH) has named Todd Pickens as its vice president of sales. Pickens has more than 30 years of experience, including time with the Ford Motor Co.Mazda Motor of America and the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. At Goodyear, he held leadership roles in regional sales, all-terrain category management and wholesale distribution. He most recently was a senior consultant with KRP Associates of Akron, OH.


Martins Industries Staffs Up

Martins Industries (Farnham, Quebec) has added new account managers to its U.S. sales team: Jose Garibay, handling California, Nevada and Arizona; and Amos Williams III, handling Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The tire equipment company also has added two account managers to its Canadian team: Jim Turner, handling western Canada; and Grant Stoic, handling Ontario.


Hunter Engineering Launches Push Reports Feature

The Hunter Engineering Co. has added Push Reports to its online business intelligence tool HunterNet. The new feature allows connected equipment results to be “pushed” to shops, eliminating the need to pull information manually. According to Hunter, shops can use these inspection, alignment and balancing performance reports to set target goals, maximize productivity and convert more service opportunities. Push Reports are delivered midday or at the end of the day.



Chief, Celette Ally On Vehicle Specification Databases

Collision repair equipment companies Chief and Celette are now working to jointly develop large vehicle dimensional specifications databases. The companies already offer specifications for thousands of global vehicles. Through this alliance — announced last week at the SEMA Show — they plan to leverage their data collection technology and share information so that both can expand their specification databases to provide maximum vehicle coverage to their customers.

Computerized measuring systems like Chief’s Meridian Live Mapping system and Celette’s Naja electronic measuring system use dimensional specifications to determine necessary repairs.


Chief To Rep Full Line Of Celette Equipment In The Americas, China

Chief distributors are now able to offer Celette’s full line of OEM-approved collision repair and measuring systems across most of North America, South America and China. This expands on a heavy-duty product distribution agreement the companies reached in April.

Celette’s line of European collision repair equipment includes bench systems, fixture sets, measuring systems, and straightening and pulling equipment for vehicles ranging from small cars up through heavy-duty trucks. Its equipment has a number of OEM global approvals. For example, the Sevenne bench has been approved for use on more than 60 different vehicle brands.

Celette’s products are seen as complementary to Chief’s line of OEM-approved frame-pulling equipment, vehicle-anchoring systems, measuring systems, joining equipment, wheel service and alignment equipment, adhesive debonders, and fume extractors.


Mitchell Int’l Partners With VeriFacts For Audit, Inspection Services

Mitchell International (San Diego) has announced a partnership with VeriFacts Automotive for audit and inspection field services in support of Mitchell’s OEM Collision Repair Network Solutions, which is offered to OEMs, fleets and other industry participants. The alliance will help facilitate the launch of the General Motors Collision Repair Network, which is administered by Mitchell.

VeriFacts will remain the verification company for the Cadillac Aluminum Program.

Michael Lawlor is the vice president of auto physical damage strategic partnerships for Mitchell. He said that Mitchell’s software helps facilitate properly executed repair procedures; however, the physical inspection of a repair facility is critical in evaluating its readiness for participation in Mitchell’s quality-focused programs.

“We’re excited that VeriFacts will focus its well-regarded expertise on these inspections, which assess prospective program participants and their capabilities,” Lawlor said.


OEConnection In Deal To Buy U.K.-Based Bluegrasscoms

Richfield, OH-based OEConnection (OEC), a technology provider to automotive OEM distribution networks, has signed an agreement to acquire Bluegrasscoms (BGC), a United Kingdom-based automotive business consultancy and service provider focused on the collision and aftersales market segments. Financial terms of the pending transaction were not disclosed.

The deal is subject to customary conditions, including receipt of regulatory approval. It is expected to close during the fourth quarter. OEC plans to continue to operate from its numerous offices internationally, as well as maintain its global headquarters in Ohio; its European headquarters in Chelmsford, England; and the BGC office in Newbury, England.

BGC streamlines key operations for customers across Europe, with a focus on the collision industry. Its Vision software provides body shops with one-stop access to original equipment parts from OEMs, providing pricing, availability and backorder status.

The combination of the two businesses would allow OEC to provide the collision platform to current and prospective European OEM customers. “Bluegrasscoms extends the OEC footprint and will help us grow both in the depth and breadth of our offerings with new and existing customers,” said Chuck Rotuno, OEC’s chairman and CEO.

“Whilst BGC is recognized as the leading collision and aftersales service provider in the U.K., working with Chuck and his OEC management team will provide us with a strong platform to further accelerate our European expansion,” said BGC CEO Stuart Bartlett.

Davis Noell is the managing director of Providence Equity Partners, majority owner of OEC. He called the pending acquisition of BGC a critical step in OEC’s strategy to expand its global reach in the automotive technology industry. “Given OEC’s continued strong organic growth and the acquisition of BGC, the company now expects to exceed $160 million in revenue in 2018,” Noell said.


NEW … Seeking Catalog Manager

A well respected leading automotive aftermarket manufacturer of Brake products is seeking a Catalog Manager to become a member of our Marketing team. … (more) … Click here to find out more.

Spectra Premium Industries: Business Development Manager – Western U.S.

Spectra Premium Industries, a leading North American Auto Parts Manufacturer, is seeking a highly qualified Business Development Manager to manage aftermarket parts sales throughout the Western United States. … (more) … Click here to find out more.

Alltech Automotive: Regional Sales Managers – North America

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 Seeks Rep Agencies

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.


UTI Opens New Jersey Campus, Updates Transformation Plan

On Oct. 24, Universal Technical Institute (UTI) celebrated the grand opening of its Bloomfield, NJ campus — its 13th overall and first in the Tri-State area. The 108,000-square-foot facility will focus on training in automotive and diesel service technology. UTI expects to enroll as many as 800 students a year.

The Ford Motor Co. will offer its Ford Accelerated Credential Training (FACT) at UTI-Bloomfield. This 15-week advanced program trains students to work with Ford’s computer diagnostics, electrical and diesel technologies. Students are eligible to take Ford FACT after they successfully complete UTI’s core automotive or diesel programs.

The opening is part of UTI’s Transformation Plan, meant to produce new student growth and improved graduation rates. The program calls for investing in marketing and admissions, retention, and student services.

UTI statistics for 2018 are as follows …
• The total number of students who started school in the fiscal fourth quarter (the three months ended Sept. 30, 2018) increased 8.5 percent to 6,022 compared to a year ago.
• High school student starts grew 13.6 percent, reflecting a 390-basis point improvement.
• Adult show rate improved by 50 basis points, but student starts were even with the prior year, as a strong labor market and historically low unemployment pressured this segment.
• Overall, new student starts for fiscal 2018 were up 1.2 percent compared to 2017, marking the first growth in new student starts in eight years.

In related news, UTI has terminated its contract with McKinsey & Co., the education consulting firm it hired to help with the transformation plan. The early exit will cost UTI $3.95 million, according to an SEC filing, but UTI president and CEO Kim McWaters expects savings in the long run.

“We appreciate our partner’s efforts to help UTI improve business processes and strategies to better meet the needs of students and our industry partners,” McWaters said in a statement.  “We have now successfully developed the internal capability and expertise to execute our Transformation Plan without the ongoing support of our consultant.”


AAA: New Vehicle Tech Doubles Collision Repair Bills

Vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can cost twice as much to repair following a collision because of expensive sensors and their calibration requirements, according to new research by AAA. Even minor incidents that cause damage to this technology found behind windshields, bumpers and door mirrors can add as much as $3,000 in extra repair costs, according to the research.

“Advanced safety systems are much more common today, with many coming as standard equipment, even on base models,” John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of automotive engineering and repair, said. “It’s critical that drivers understand what technology their vehicle has, how it performs and how much it could cost to repair should something happen.”

AAA studied three top-selling 2018 vehicle models (a Nissan Rogue, Toyota Camry and Ford F-150) to better understand the costs of replacing and/or calibrating ADAS sensors in typical collision and repair and scenarios. Replacement parts factored into the research were OEM components charged at suggested list prices. Windshield replacement costs included both OEM and aftermarket glass.

The report’s findings included the following costs for damaged cameras and sensors …
• Front radar sensors used with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control systems: $900 to $1,300.
• Rear radar sensors used with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert systems: $850 to $2,050.
• Front camera sensors used with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping systems: $850 to $1,900.
• Front, side mirror or rear camera sensors used with around-view systems: $500 to $1,100.
• Front or rear ultrasonic sensors used with parking assist systems: $500 to $1,300.
• Windshield replacement for vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning systems: $1,200 to $1,600 (aftermarket glass) and $1,300 to $1,650 (factory glass).


News Briefs 11/6/18

Discount Tire has recently entered the South Dakota market with a shop in Sioux Falls.

• Michelin North America plans to increase U.S. national account prices as much as 8 percent for all commercial brands, products and services, effective Dec. 1. Separately, effective Jan. 1, Michelin North America’s passenger tire business will increase prices as much as 5 percent for passenger and light-truck tires under the MichelinBFGoodrich and Uniroyal brands, as well as Michelin tires in the two-wheel segment, sold in the United States and Canada.

NGK Spark Plugs is launching a spark plug service interval resource by including OEM-suggested spark plug replacement recommendations in its parts finder and the company’s ACES catalog content.

Mickey Thompson Tires & Wheels has introduced online dealer training courses for the company’s truck tire lines. Online training for Mickey Thompson’s street and drag tire lines are slated to launch in early 2019.

• The Mopar Masters Guild (MMG), a group of parts professionals from Fiat Chrysler dealerships, has endorsed CollisionLink from OEConnection as its preferred parts procurement platform. Richfield, OH-based OEConnection and MMG have a long-standing relationship, spanning the majority of the 18 years OEConnection has been in operation.

Penske Truck Leasing & Rental is implementing Redline Detection’s high-pressure leak-detection technology at more than 250 of its U.S. locations. Bosch HPT 500 provides high-pressure diagnostic leak detection for the maintenance and repair of heavy-duty and boosted vehicles.

• DieselSellerz, stars of Discovery channel’s show Diesel Brothers, are partnering with the Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. to launch a new tire brand: Legion Tires. The new Legion Diesel Power M/T is an all-terrain tire for mixed on- and off-road diesel trucks that’s available in 11 sizes from 16- to 22-inch rim diameters. Additional sizes will be added.

• The Goodyear-Fleet HQ Emergency Roadside Service has helped more than 2 million trucks since its debut in 2008, according to the tiremaker.

Accella Tire Fill Systems, manufacturer of the TyrFil flatproofing line, has redesigned its corporate website,


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