New Business Education Program Created For Independent Tire Dealers
Northwood University will be hosting a new management, business skills and leadership development program for North American independent tire dealers this spring. The Tire Leadership 21 program — believed to be the first of its kind in this sector of the industry — is designed to develop the next generation of tire dealer managers and owners. It’s similar to Northwood’s long-standing Leadership 2.0 aftermarket executive development program.
Tire Leadership 21 will cover a range of topics specific to independent tire-dealer managers and owners, with instruction coming from Northwood’s DeVos Graduate School of Management faculty and from industry experts. For tire expertise, Northwood is being guided by a group of independent tire dealers called the Center for Tire & Service Education (CTSE).
CTSE is a wholly independent organization founded in March 2013. It was formed by a group of independent tire dealers and others allied to the tire industry. Their goal is to be the driving force behind an educational effort to benefit the North American tire industry. These tire dealers are actively advising Northwood on all aspects of Leadership 21’s marketing and content.
Click here to view the founding members of the CTSE advisory board.
Rich Brahler, president of commercial tire dealer Brahler’s Truckers Supply in Jacksonville, IL, said the program addresses a long-standing need in the tire industry. “Every tire dealer has wondered where they will find good managers to run a new store or how to retain and grow key employees to make this a career and not just a job. This program was designed to foster that growth,” said Brahler, a founding member of the CTSE advisory board.
Kim Sigman, co-owner of Phoenix-based Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair — and another founding member of the CTSE advisory board — added: “More and more, independent tire dealers face serious questions about growth opportunities, key employee retention, even succession planning. With every one of those questions, we came back to the same conclusion: This industry sorely needs an effective, proven way to help our employees grow as businesspeople and managers. This program accomplishes that goal.”
The Leadership 21 program features a pair of one-week, on-campus sessions. Participants attend both sessions. Session I will be held April 14-18 at Northwood’s campus in Midland, MI. Participants will reconvene Sept. 7-12 at Northwood’s campus in West Palm Beach, FL. Between Sessions I and II, participants will be required to complete an individual project that must deliver $25,000 in annual additional revenue or savings to their employers.
The 2014 Tire Leadership 21 program will be limited to 30 participants on a first-come, first-served basis. The program cost — which includes tuition, meals and class material — is $5,995. Hotel-style, on-campus accommodations are available.
The program includes topics on a range of university-level, tire-dealer-focused business, management and leadership subjects, including finance, business strategy, management, operations, industry trends, marketing and social media.
“This is not about the mechanics of changing tires, understanding regulations or even a basic community-college business course,” said Marc Pons, owner of Chapel Hill Tire Car Care Center in Chapel Hill, NC. “Tire Leadership 21 is at whole new level, and the subjects and coursework were specifically selected by the CTSE advisory board to engage and challenge attendees, and result in stronger, better run, flourishing tire businesses.” Pons also is a founding member of the CTSE advisory board.
Discounts are available for tire dealers sending more than one participant to the program. Contact program director Brian Cruickshank at email@example.com for more details. To register for Tire Leadership 21, visit universityoftheaftermarket.com or call 1-800-551-2882.
Mister Transmission Changes Hands
The Brillinger family has sold Mister Transmission International Limited, a Canadian chain of transmission and driveline repair shops, to a new private investment group called Responsive Brands Inc. Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.
“It was a difficult decision for the Brillinger family to divest their interests in the Mister Transmission business. However, we all agreed that it was the right thing, and we are ecstatic that we have chosen the absolute best partner for us,” said Randy Moore, president and CEO of Mister Transmission, in a prepared statement. “Responsive and the existing Mister team are equally committed to increasing our value to the franchisees, growing same store sales and growing our franchisee base.”
Responsive Brands is a new enterprise. It’s led by Paul Craven, who helped found the company and serves as its president and executive committee chairman. His background includes 25 year as a partner in Solarsoft Business Systems Inc. (formerly CMS Software).
The team also includes Doug Wallace, operating partner and board member, who brings aftermarket experience, including time with Epicor; and Rick Rogers, board member and finance committee chair, whose background is in strategic financing, accounting and franchising.
Going forward, Responsive Brands says it is committed to the continued development of the Mister Transmission brand, including growth of the franchisee base.
Point of View: Time Is Ripe For Tackling Warranty Return Challenge
Sometimes, a single sentence can say as much as a thousand words…
“In a survey of its full-service suppliers, AASA found that warranty returns in the aftermarket account for nearly $3.50 billion in lost revenue to those suppliers and 97.5 percent of all warranty credit is preventable.”
That was the topic tackled at one of the AAPEX Learning Forum events back in early November, an expert panel representing all levels of the distribution channel discussing the critical issue of reducing preventable warranty returns. And the panel, moderated by Bill Hanvey, AASA vice president of programs and member services, was challenged to look at the subject of warranties without the normal assumption that warranty returns are just a necessary evil – a general cost of doing business in the independent automotive aftermarket.
Though a common practice in our industry for as long as most of us can remember, it is vital to remember the cost of warranty returns – the cost to all channel partners in the chain – is one that could be moved from the expense side of the ledger and blended into the profit side, particularly for those on the supply side of the business. And the supplier representative on the panel – Brian Altenberger, director of fuel delivery systems for Delphi Automotive – was quick to point out the commitment most suppliers have put forth toward providing application-specific directions (including videos) for installation of many complex components, and said suppliers certainly hope those provided tools are used effectively by distributors and especially technicians. He and other panel members also noted that the supplier loses twice in the warranty return scenario: once, when incurring the expense of training and supporting materials, and again, when paying the credit on the returned part — a part that may not have even been paid for yet.
The problem can be attacked with data analysis as well, according to Mario Recchia, senior vice president of WORLDPAC, another panel member who noted that analyzing warranty return data is important in identifying those accounts or product categories that have high warranty rates, and focusing efforts where the problem may be easily identifiable.
At the shop level, and echoed by the suppliers, training is the key. Mitch Schneider, owner of Schneider Automotive in Simi, CA, said it is a matter of shop owners mandating a set quota of training time to reduce wasted labor time as well as eliminating comebacks in the first place. The shop loses billable labor and bay time when a job comes back, not withstanding the negative impact on customer confidence and a shop’s reputation – something our industry as a whole suffers from every time a consumer tells his tale of woe to friends, family, colleagues and coworkers.
This is certainly a complex issue but one that requires the attention of our industry — attention from all levels of the channel and collaboration from all those channel partners throughout the system. There is word that a warranty return task force may be coming in the near future – an effort being put forth by AASA and some of its members.
There has been much in the way of discussion concerning this issue over the years, but now is the time for some real action. This is a challenge that can be met, and it will pay dividends to all those along the channel, including the most important member of the industry: the consumer.
Gary A. Molinaro
Alldata Debuts Cloud-Based Technology
Elk Grove, CA-based Alldata has launched a cloud-based version of its Alldata Manage Online shop management system. This streamlined, browser-enabled application allows service writers to access Alldata Manage Online anywhere within a repair shop that has a WiFi connection, including from tablets and mobile devices. As an online product, there is no installation, and backups and updates are automatic.
Mudlick Mail Adds B2B Service
Acworth, GA-based direct mail provider Mudlick Mail is making its marketing campaigns available to companies that sell their products and services to fellow businesses, rather than consumers. The expansion into the business-to-business market represents a new strategy for Mudlick. The company has provided business-to-consumer campaigns in the dental and auto repair industries since its founding in 2008.
Mudlick plans to use the experience it has gained to help other companies target the businesses they want to reach. For example, the company could help a tire manufacturer searching for repair shops that stock their products. To create its lists, Mudlick obtains data from suppliers and combines that information with the data it has already established in-house.
And, as it does in the B2C market, Mudlick offers a turn-key suite of services, including postcard design, printing, listing services, postage, delivery, and tracking analysis for a flat fee and without a long-term contract requirement.
Total Number Of Vehicles On U.S. Roads Reaches Highest Level Since 2008
Experian Automotive reports that the number of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads reached 247.90 million in the second quarter of 2013. According to the latest Vehicles in Operation (VIO) market analysis, increased new vehicle sales and lower scrappage rates pushed VIO to the highest point on record since the third quarter of 2008. Additionally, findings showed that the average age of vehicles on the road was 10.9 years in the 2013 second quarter — almost a full year older than was recorded four years ago.
“During the recession, new vehicle sales dropped, causing challenges for aftermarket companies,” said Marty Miller, senior manager for Experian Automotive. “However, the recent uptick in new vehicle sales, combined with more aging vehicles on the road, means these challenges will only be in the short term. As these new vehicles begin to age and enter the prime aftermarket repair years, growth opportunities will rebound.”
Additional data from Experian’s analysis shows that full-sized pickup trucks were the top vehicle segment on the road in the second quarter at 14.9 percent of total VIO. They were followed by standard midrange cars (11.9 percent) and small-economy cars (9.1 percent).
From a regional perspective, when looking at new vehicle registrations, the Midwest and South regions followed a similar trend, as full-sized pickup trucks were the top new vehicle segment at 14.1 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively.
Trends in the West and Northeast regions were drastically different. Full-sized pickup trucks were only the third-ranked new vehicle segment in the West (9.8 percent) and the fifth most popular in the Northeast (7.8 percent). Small-economy cars (12.7 percent) topped the list in the West, while entry-level crossover utility vehicles (14 percent) were the top segment in the Northeast region.
Other findings include:
• General Motors had the highest share of VIO at 26.6 percent, followed by Ford (18.9 percent), Toyota (12.6 percent) and Chrysler (12.5 percent).
• Imports had a 51.8-percent share of total new registrations in the first half of 2013 — down from 52.7 percent a year ago.
• General Motors was the top manufacturer for new vehicles in the Midwest (25.1 percent), South (18.9 percent) and Northeast (14.3 percent) regions in the first half of 2013. Toyota had the highest new vehicle market share in the West region (18.2 percent).
• In the second quarter of 2013, more than half (50.9 percent) of VIO were between model years 2000 and 2008.
• The Top 5 vehicle segments in the United States made up 49.9 percent of the VIO market in the 2013 second quarter.
Board Pulling The Plug On American Car Care Centers
Memphis-based American Car Care Centers (ACCC) began informing dealers and suppliers last week of its board of directors’ decision to dissolve the company by Jan. 31, 2014.
ACCC is an association of locally-owned tire dealers. Since its 1989 formation, the group has grown to encompass a combination of 21 distribution and retail operations forming a network of 1,100-plus points of sale nationwide.
Association management said growth and consolidation of its member-distributors, coupled with changing industry dynamics, led to this decision. After several months of discussion, the board came to the conclusion that ceasing operations it is the right, long-term decision for all involved, according to statement from President and CEO Len Lewin.
ACCC member-distributors will continue to service their independent retail customers and will work with dealers to ease their transition into new marketing programs.
“ACCC has consisted of some of the finest distributors and retailers in the industry,” Lewin said in his statement. “This structural change will not impact their ability to service their customers, nor impede their forward progress in any significant way. They are all seasoned organizations with experience and knowledgeable people. They know how to win. It is now time for them to begin the next chapter.”
CEO Transition In Place For TBC
Erik Olsen will take over as the president and CEO of TBC Corp. on Jan. 1, succeeding Larry Day. Olsen was chief operating officer of TBC Corp., as well as president and CEO of the TBC Wholesale Group. He joined TBC in 2004 as senior vice president and chief marketing officer after holding various senior management positions with Michelin North America.
Day, who has served as TBC’s president and CEO since 1999, will remain chairman of the board, a post he has held since 2005. Day joined TBC in 1998 as executive vice president and chief operating officer following a five-year stint as president and CEO of Monro Muffler & Brake. His background also includes managerial positions with Montgomery Ward and the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.
Olsen said that, under Day’s leadership, TBC has experienced tremendous growth and progress. “Our company is uniquely positioned in the tire and automotive service industry, and is poised for our next phase of significant evolution,” Olsen added. “One of our key focus areas will be the acceleration of initiatives to leverage the strength of each subsidiary to better serve our customers, franchisees and associates.”
Headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, TBC is one of the nation’s largest marketers of automotive replacement tires. The company is a wholesale supplier to independent regional tire retailers and distributors throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. Additionally, TBC’s wholesale group operates Carroll Tire, a regional tire wholesale distributor servicing independent tire dealers across the United States.
TBC’s retail group operates more than 2,700 franchised and company-operated tire and automotive service centers under the brands Tire Kingdom, Merchant’s Tire & Auto Centers, National Tire & Battery (NTB), Big O Tires, Midas and SpeeDee Oil & Lube.
Belle Tire Is Approaching 90 Locations
Belle Tire has opened two Flint, MI-area locations: one in Grand Blanc and one in Lapeer. This makes four new stores in Michigan this year. And store No. 89 is in the works. Construction is underway for a location in Fort Gratiot, MI, which is scheduled to open late this month or early in January.
On top of the new store openings, Belle has overhauled eight existing locations in 2013, including most recently locations in Garden City and Livonia.
Aftermarket Collision Repair-Related Sales Rose 2.3% In 2012
Collision repair-related sales by aftermarket repair shops grew 2.3 percent to $39.7 billion in 2012, according to the newly released 2013 Digital Collision Repair Trends report from AAIA. Growth was driven by a number of factors, including the increased number of registered vehicles, increased road congestion causing a higher frequency of accidents per year, and the increased collision repair cost per vehicle.
For more information on this new report from AAIA, visit www.aftermarket.org and click “Market Intelligence.”
Caliber Collision Centers Sold
ONCAP, a Toronto-based private equity firm, has sold Caliber Collision Centers to OMERS Private Equity (OPE). Caliber is one of the largest, non-franchised collision repair chains in North America. The company provides automotive paint and body repair services via more than 157 collision centers throughout the southwestern and western United States.
Since 2008, the company has more than doubled the number of collision centers it operates and established a presence in more than 15 markets.
BB&T Capital Markets served as financial advisor to Caliber and ONCAP in the transaction. The deal represents BB&T’s fifth sale of a major collision repair chain in the last five years. They were Carstar in 2008, True2Form Collision Repair Centers in 2010, the Boyd Group in 2011, Service King in 2012 and Caliber in 2013.
Harris Williams & Co., a middle market investment bank, served as lead advisor on the transaction, which closed Nov. 20. The transaction was led by Frank Mountcastle, Joe Conner and Jershon Jones from Harris Williams’ Transportation & Logistics Group, along with Chris Williams, Chip Duggins and Jay Beekman from its Richmond, VA office.
Service King Acquires Accurate Autobody Of Nashville
Service King Collision Repair Centers (Richardson, TX), a multi-state operator of collision repair facilities, has acquired Accurate Autobody of Nashville, which has nine collision repair centers and one offsite production facility in Tennessee. Service King now has more than 100 locations in Texas, Tennessee, Arizona, Arkansas and Mississippi — 22 of which are in Tennessee.
Accurate Autobody founder John Hughes, along with his team members, are joining Service King.
Japanese Companies To Open Service Store in Cambodia
Toyota Tsusho Corp., the Aisin Seiki Co. and Denso Corp. plan to jointly open a wholly owned store in Cambodia that will offer auto repair and maintenance services, as well as sell related automotive components. The business will begin operations in February under the name Pit & Go. To expand its regional service network, Pit & Go will identify qualified stores and designate them as Pit & Go-certified, as well as help them improve their repair skills and store management.
GOJO Adds Hand Soap Locator Tool
GOJO Industries (Akron, OH) has added a new online tool to help automotive hand soap customers determine the best places to locate hand soaps and dispensers for effective cleaning and conditioning of employees’ hands based on their type of work.
ATMC Announces Officers, Directors For 2014
The Automotive Training Managers Council (ATMC) — an organization dedicated to the advancement of training and professional development within the transportation service industry — has announced the election of Darrell Rowe, director of education and development for Bridgestone Retail Operations, as its board chair for 2014. Rowe is joined by Holly Gerke, manager of technical training for Penske Truck Leasing, as vice chair. Michael Loth of Bosch was elected treasurer, with Tim Zilke of ASE serving as secretary. Bobby Bassett from Gates Corp. has assumed the role of past chair.
Three new directors also have been elected to the board: Chris Chesney from the Carquest Technical Institute, Ron Kato of Toyota Motors Sales USA and John Prosser with the American Honda Motor Co. They join current directors Rod Boyes of Melior Inc., Steve Lee with Lincoln Educational Services and Bill Sapielak from Adayana.
Stepping down from the board are Byron Morgan with the Morgan Consultant Service, John Saia of Toyota Motor Sales USA and the late Rich Whittier from Chrysler LLC.
National Auto Body Council Elects Board, Officers
The National Auto Body Council (NABC) has elected Nick Notte of Sterling Autobody Centers as its president for 2014. Notte is joined by the following fellow officers:
• Vice President: Elizabeth Stein of Assured Performance;
• Treasurer: Fred Iantorno of CIECA;
• Secretary: Domenic Brusco of PPG Automotive Refinish;
• Director-At-Large: Craig Camacho of Keenan Auto Body; and
• Past President: Brandon Devis of Sherwin-Williams.
New to the NABC board are: Taylor Bowes of 3D Collision Centers, Elizabeth Clark of State Farm Insurance, Joe Lacy of GEICO and Jeff Peevy of I-CAR.
AT&T Selling DIY Vehicle Telematics Device
AT&T now sells the Audiovox Car Connection Elite Series, a telematics and location-based service designed to help consumers monitor, manage and maintain their vehicles. AT&T exclusively provides wireless 3G connectivity for the Car Connection Elite, and consumers can access up-to-the-minute information through a mobile app or web interface.
The Car Connection Elite Series is a DIY plug-in OBDII device that works on almost all 1996 and newer model-year vehicles.
The product monitors a vehicle’s health with diagnostic reports and reviews recent trips to help monitor fuel consumption to help users conserve gas and save money. It allows users to know where their vehicle is located and can provide directions to where it is parked when needed. Users can setup safety zones and receive alerts when a driver enters or exits those zones. The device also can restrict mobile phone usage.
The Audiovox Car Connection Elite Series is available on www.att.com and through AT&T retail stores.
U.S. Cellular Selling Delphi Connect
Delphi Automotive has expanded the sale of its car-to-cloud/cloud-to-car connectivity system to U.S. Cellular customers. Sold at U.S. Cellular retail stores and online, the Delphi Connect system allows car owners to remotely control, monitor and track their vehicle in real-time via a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Delphi Connect plugs into a vehicle’s OBD II port. The system operates through downloadable smartphone applications, as well as a web portal. Features include:
• Vehicle health: Diagnose a vehicle’s engine health, vehicle performance issues and monitor overall vehicle status;
• Virtual key fob: Lock or unlock vehicle doors, open the trunk, start or stop the engine, and operate the panic horn with a virtual key fob on a smart device.
• Geo-fencing: Designate up to six circular “fences” around specified locations and receive alerts when the vehicle enters and exits a fenced area
• Live tracking: Enables real-time vehicle tracking with five-second updates, showing vehicle speed and direction
• The ability to add modules to a common Delphi Connect account to access all vehicles from one account.
Kukui Names U.S. Operations President
Kukui Corp., a developer of marketing software for auto repair shops, has appointed Todd Westerlund as president of the company’s U.S. operations. He was Kukui’s chief strategist. Westerlund’s new role involves setting Kukui’s growth strategy, as well as managing event planning and industry sponsorships and partnerships. He continues to oversee the company’s sales division. Before joining Kukui, Westerlund was vice president of sales for Shop Management Services, a distributor of R.O. Writer shop management software. He also spent four years as a regional manager with Demandforce, where he expanded the company’s automotive division.
Former Copart Executive Joins Snapsheet
David Bauer, former chief information officer and senior vice president of corporate development at Copart, is now the chief operating officer of Snapsheet, a company that offers a self-service mobile application suite designed to help insurers reduce the cycle time and cost per claim through estimation by photo.
People Watching 12/11/13
• Brian Marshia has joined the heavy-duty vehicle lift company Stertil-Koni as technical support manager. He succeeds Keith Bunn, who is now western regional sales manager. Marshia has experience as a field service engineer, most recently working in the industrial power supply industry.
• Nissan has appointed Fred Diaz — currently divisional vice president of sales and marketing/parts and service for Nissan U.S.A. — as its senior vice president of sales and marketing/parts and service – U.S.A., effective Jan. 1. His current position will not be replaced.
• Adam Kahn, an AlliedSignal/Bendix and Detroit Diesel veteran, has joined the SmartDrive Systems management team as senior director of product marketing. SmartDrive is a vehicle fleet monitoring company.
News Briefs 12/11/13
• Blaine Brothers has acquired Truckaline in Blaine, MN, which specializes in full-service truck alignments, frame work and suspensions, including brakes and springs. Blaine Brothers is an HDA Truck Pride member.
• Federated Auto Parts is now accepting nominations for the 2014 Federated Shop of the Year. Shops may be self-nominated or nominated by others. Click here for more information.
• Carstar plans to relocate from Overland Park, KS to a new corporate headquarters in nearby Leawood in November 2014.
• ASA-Ohio supports legislation introduced by Ohio state Sens. Edna Brown, Tom Patton and Peggy Lehner (Ohio Senate Bill 232) establishing a mechanical shop registration program in the state. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce & Labor.
• The Advanstar Automotive Group reports that its Motor Age YouTube channel has surpassed 1 million views. The page has nearly 200 informational videos available, including archived versions of the publication’s live training webinars and a library of its monthly “Trainer” video series.
• SKF says its training trucks have interacted with more than 100,000 professional technicians across North America since their launch in 2010. The program revolves around six dedicated training trucks: three covering automotive training and three offering heavy-duty training.
• Speedemissions Inc. has upgraded its CARbonga automobile diagnostic iPhone application to include information on recalls and technical service bulletins for most makes and models produced through 2013. The app also has an enhanced “push notification” feature for all manufacturer recalls and TSBs.
• ASA-Midwest has kicked off its 2014 campaign for the “Technicians of Tomorrow” scholarship fund. This fund assists a minimum of four students who are pursuing a career in the automotive service industry with a $1,000 scholarship. Click here for more information.
• Store Supply Warehouse in St. Louis has launched SSW Dealer Supply, a subsidiary dedicated to servicing auto dealers. It stocks a wide range of dealership supplies, including pennants, forms, service department supplies, on-vehicle advertisements, key storage and accessories.
• Mitchell 1 has added new search technology to its ProDemand repair information software designed to deliver OEM and experience-based information together in a single lookup.
• Poma Distributing has reached a deal with BP Lubricants USA to market Castrol-branded automotive and heavy-duty lubricants throughout southern California.
• Dannmar Inc. is introducing a new line of wheel service equipment.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 12/11/13
• ASE honored 45 automotive professionals at its fall board meeting last month in Newport Beach, CA. The awards spotlight top scorers on ASE certification tests.
• The AMRA/MAP winter technical committee meeting will be held Jan. 21-22 at the Hilton New Orleans Airport.
• The deadline to apply for several Vision 2014 awards, including Service Facility of the Year, is Jan. 17. Click here for applications. The Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo will be held March 6-9 in Kansas City.
• The heads of three major parts and service marketing groups — Don Reimondo of HDA/TP, Steve Crowley of Vipar HD and Brett Upton of PowerHD — will discuss the role of service in tomorrow’s heavy-duty aftermarket at SOLD 14 (Service Opportunities Learning Day). SOLD is held at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas the day before Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week on Jan. 27.