Quick Hits …
(A few short items to get us started this week)
• The Auto Care Association and ASE have announced the latest “World Class Technician” award recipients — 45 professional technicians who achieved ASE certification in 22 specialty areas during the 2018 certification test administration. Over 2,000 technicians have achieved “World Class Technician” status since its inception more than 30 years ago.
• A bill has been introduced before the Rhode Island House of Representatives (H. 5391) that seeks to extend the state’s vehicle inspection waiver to five years from the date of purchase. Rhode Island currently requires inspections two years from the date of purchase or before the vehicle accumulates 24,000 miles, whichever occurs first. The proposed legislation was introduced in February and has been referred to the finance committee.
• The Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., during its Feb. 19 earnings conference call, announced a new partnership with Monro Inc., making Cooper-brand tires available at a number of Monro’s shops.
• Belle Tire is planning for 17 new stores this year in the Indianapolis area.
Monro COO Departing After About Year On Job
Matthew Evan Naylor is resigning as chief operations officer of Monro Inc., effective April 30, according to a Feb. 22 filing with the SEC. He will remain with the Rochester, NY-based company until that time to help transition responsibilities.
Naylor, who joined the company in March 2018, oversees all aspects of Monro’s store operations and is responsible for executing the company’s store-related initiatives. He reports to Brett Ponton, President and CEO.
Naylor came to Monro with over two decades of operations management experience, including time as the vice president of sales and operations at Murphy USA, a national gas station and convenience store chain. Prior to that, he held a series of operational leadership roles with Target and Home Depot, including as a group vice president.
Service First Automotive Centers Expanding In Texas
Service First Automotive Centers recently opened a new shop in McKinney, TX, and plans to open at least 10 more by year’s end — more than doubling the total number of locations, according to a local news report.
Spring, TX-based Service First, a Caliber Collision company, started in the Houston area. The expansion focuses on the northern part of Texas, with shops planned for the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
In addition to oil changes and “check engine” light diagnostics, the company offers state inspections and work on brakes, battery and electrical issues, A/C repair, wheel alignments, diesel engine work, and other auto repairs.
Icahn Automotive Offering Technician Scholarships
The Icahn Automotive Group — parent company to Pep Boys, AAMCO and Precision Tune Auto Care, to name a few — plans to award scholarships for the 2019-’20 school year to qualified students studying to become professional automotive technicians. The scholarships are part of Icahn Automotive’s Race to 2026 initiative that aims to address the industry’s technician shortage.
Icahn Automotive awarded the first scholarship last month to Jonathan Fanstill, a military veteran enrolled in the Universal Technical Institute’s automotive technology program. Twelve additional $2,500 scholarships will be awarded to students enrolled full- or part-time in high school, college, or trade school pursuing an automotive technician degree or certification.
Applications will be accepted through April 30, 2019, with recipients announced in June. For more information, click here.
Sullivan Tire Announces Partnership With Red Sox Manager
Sullivan Tire & Auto Service has announced a partnership with Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The initial agreement is for two years, and includes TV commercials and personal appearances.
Sullivan Tire is a longtime advertiser on Boston sports broadcasts, and has had agreements with many sports figures over the years, including Dustin Pedroia, Dennis Eckersley and Terry Francona of the Red Sox, as well as people affiliated with the Boston Bruins and New England Patriots.
Headquartered in Norwell, MA, Sullivan Tire & Auto Service has 71 retail locations, 15 commercial truck centers, 13 wholesale facilities, three tire retread facilities, two LiftWorks facilities and two distribution centers. It does business in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine.
Valvoline Announces Partner For Quick Lubes In China
Valvoline Inc. has entered into a joint venture with Chinese quick-lube services provider The Master Too to co-develop a quick-lube model in China. Plans call for the joint venture to operate quick-lubes in the Shandong province in eastern China. The program’s first location opened Feb. 18 in Qingdao.
Tony Puckett, president of Valvoline Quick Lubes, said the company has been evaluating the China quick-lube market for approximately two years. “This partnership leverages the strengths of Master Too and Valvoline to co-develop a differentiated automotive service experience for the Chinese consumer,” Puckett stated.
10 Jiffy Lubes To Open In Q1
The management of Jiffy Lube expects 10 new franchisee-owned shops to open in the first quarter of 2019. Already, service centers have opened in Maricopa, AZ; Las Vegas, NV; Thornton, CO; and Allentown, PA. Based on current development plans, Jiffy Lube will open more new shops this year than the brand has opened in any given year over the past decade, according to management.
National Oil & Lube News Acquired By 10 Missions
10 Missions Media has acquired National Oil & Lube News (NOLN). Financial details of the deal, which closed Feb. 1, were not disclosed.
St. Paul, MN-based 10 Missions Media specializes in automotive business publications. NOLN joins a lineup including FenderBender, Ratchet+Wrench, FIXED and MWACA Magazine.
“This is an exciting next step in the evolution of our brand,” NOLN Chief Operating Officer Ragan Holt said in a company announcement.
“We’ve spent the last 30-plus years firmly establishing ourselves as a resource to those operating quick lube and maintenance businesses,” Holt said. “By joining 10 Missions Media and its impressive portfolio of publications, we’ll be able to build on our legacy, enhance our offerings, and bring to market new and exciting products that will allow us to be successful for years to come.”
For now, it’s business as usual for NOLN, which started in 1986. But readers, vendors and advertisers can eventually expect additional products, according to 10 Missions Media Vice President and Publisher Chris Messer. Details were unavailable at this time.
Steve Hurt, co-founder and publisher of NOLN, is no longer with the magazine.
Discount Tire Launches Pilot AAA Program In California
Discount Tire has partnered with AAA Southern California to launch a tire service program that offers flat repairs and tire replacements to members in need. The pilot program has launched at Discount Tire/America’s Tire retail stores in San Diego and Los Angeles.
AAA’s roadside assistance program will tow stranded drivers, at their request, to the nearest Discount Tire/America’s Tire store for service. Additionally, AAA members will receive discounts on “better” or “best” tire purchases at participating shops.
Tire Kingdom Unveils New Shop Concept In Florida
Tire Kingdom Service Centers has opened its newest store in West Palm Beach, FL, the first to feature the company’s “shop of the future” concept.
The concept is based on comments from focus groups, customer surveys and other feedback, according to Erik Olsen, president and CEO of TBC Corp., Tire Kingdom’s parent company.
Changes include a business area, digital feature wall, children’s tablets with games, enhanced concession area, large open view to the back shop, upgraded broadband connectivity and digital inspection equipment.
Based in Palm Beach Gardens, the chain of automotive and tire service centers has nearly 190 locations in Florida.
BFGoodrich Launches Program For Tradesmen
BFGoodrich Tires has launched a program in the United States for construction, agriculture, landscaping and other skilled trade employees who rely heavily on pickup trucks for their work. Program benefits include discounts on all-terrain KO2 tires, roadside assistance and contests.
The company plans to promote its BFGoodrich Tires Tradesmen Support Program through partnerships with such trade associations such as …
• National Association of Home Builders.
• National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
• Associated General Contractors of America.
• National Association of Landscape Professionals.
• Painting & Decorating Contractors of America.
• American Quarter Horse Association.
• American Subcontractors Association.
Tradespeople who aren’t part of an association also can access the benefits. Online orders for the program begin in mid-March.
The goal is to make work easier for tradespeople by reducing downtime and costs because of tire and vehicle issues, according to BFGoodrich.
2019 Passenger Tire Replacement Shipments To Decline Slightly
The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association projects that 2019 U.S. tire shipments will decrease 0.7 percent to 327.0 million units when compared to 2018. Passenger tire replacement shipments are expected to decline 0.3 percent to 217.40 million. The association notes that 2018 passenger tire replacement shipments were historically strong. Replacement light-truck tire shipments are expected to increase 0.8 percent to 31.50 million units.
Bolt On Adds To Marketing And Sales Teams
Bolt On Technology has added two sales and marketing professionals to its management team.
Tim Cifelli has been appointed director of marketing, responsible for branding, marketing and communications initiatives, including automotive trade marketing, advertising, public relations, social media and digital marketing.
Cifelli brings more than 20 years of marketing communications experience. He previously was the president and chief operating officer of the marketing communications firm DDCWorks, where he was campaign manager for the agency’s automotive industry clients, such as ARI Global Fleet Management Services and The Philadelphia International Auto Show.
John Borkowski is now Bolt On’s national director of sales and customer support. Borkowski brings 34 years of experience with hands-on sales as well as building and leading sales teams. Most recently, he was senior manager of customer service/ERP support for TRAC Intermodal, a marine chassis pool manager and equipment provider.
In addition to these appointments, Bolt On has expanded Frank Dragoni’s role as director of sales and corporate partnerships to focus on strengthening and growing the company’s relationship with large MSOs and national franchise partners. Dragoni joined Bolt On in 2013.
Bolt On Adds New Website Product And Training Courses
Bolt On Technology has introduced a new SMS-integrated website for repair shops as well as a new best practices sales training program.
The website program, called Pit Stop, provides shops with a customizable site that connects with their management system. Available for a monthly fee, Pit Stop offers search engine optimization (SEO) capabilities, displays key services, tells a story about users’ businesses and allows customers to book an appointment online.
The company plans to target shops with no website presence or a poor or dated looking site, as well as those with a well-designed site that’s not integrated into their shop management system.
Bolt On’s new management course is called “How to Supercharge Your Sales.” Bolt On partnered with shop management coaching firm, Elite, late last year and began hosting a series of training webinars for shop owners.
“Over several months working together — as they were holding the webinars — the companies recognized a need for a one-on-one consulting service that would provide shops a health check on their business,” Tony Defazio, a spokesman for Bolt On, said.
Elite now offers Bolt On customers a free, in-person class customized to an individual shop’s needs based on its current sales revenue, goals, services offered, etc.
ASA, Frank Leutz Partner On ‘Garage Challenges’ Video Series
ASA is partnering with Car Talk Radio host and Arizona shop owner Frank Leutz to produce a series of videos aimed at helping business owners solve everyday challenges in their shops. Leutz will host the online “Garage Challenges” series, which will be produced twice monthly. They will be available at autoinc.org and on ASA’s social media accounts.
The goal is to produce needed information for shop owners and to create discussion among ASA members. “We want the industry to weigh in on these challenges, and share their experiences and ideas for the betterment of your shop and the industry as a whole,” ASA executive director Ray Fisher said.
Registration Open For ASE Instructor Training Conference
Registration is now open for the sixth annual ASE Education Foundation Instructor Training Conference taking place July 22-25 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Frisco, TX. The event will include over 60 technical sessions providing more than 100 hours of training. Tracks will be available for automotive, collision repair, and medium and heavy truck instructors.
Session presenters will represent over 35 organizations involved in various aspects of the automotive industry, including 10 OE manufacturers. Michael Brustein, a partner at Brustein & Manasevit PLLC, will present the keynote address, discussing new features of Perkins V. On-site ASE certification testing will be available during the conference.
TechForce Helps Fund Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car Competition
The TechForce Foundation has awarded the new Foundation for Advanced Stem Education (FASE) its first grant, which will establish an elementary-school-level hydrogen fuel cell car competition.
FASE is focused on providing hands-on, team-driven STEM projects for students, encouraging problem-solving skills and helping them explore possible career paths. The competition is the kick-off project for FASE, and the brainchild of FASE founder and Colorado STEM teacher Charles Sprague.
Students from nine elementary schools across multiple school districts in the Denver area will participate in the challenge, building a small fuel-cell DIY kit car. They must assemble the fuel cell components and get the fuel cell operational, as well as install the electric motor. They will then build their own chassis and wheels.
For those students who want to take it a step further, there is a second division of competition where they also will design and build their own body.
“Our research clearly shows that a key impediment to young men and women considering, and then choosing, careers in skilled trades is that they are not exposed to tactile, hands-on engagement in their formative years,” Greg Settle, director of national initiatives at TechForce, said. “To partner with a foundation that is seeking to do just that couldn’t be a more perfect fit for TechForce.”
Tom Gage To Help Hybrid Shop Enter Commercial Market
Electric vehicle pioneer Tom Gage has partnered with The Hybrid Shop (THS) to lead the company’s expansion into the commercial EV market.
Gage addressed THS dealer principals recently at the company’s annual dealer meeting. The commercial vehicle market is the next logical step in the commercialization of fully electric drivetrains, Gage said at the meeting.
“Battery cost reduction and increasing reliability and range mean that operating cost benefits will soon make electric trucks irresistible to commercial fleet managers,” he said.
Based in Torrance, CA, THS specializes in remanufacturing nickel–metal hydride batteries. The company goes to market through retail franchisees, providing dealers with high-voltage proportioning training, diagnostic equipment, marketing support and replacement battery packs for hybrid vehicles. As the commercial market develops, the company has plans in place to ramp-up efforts to build out a commercial network of dealers to service this segment.
Gage has been commercializing electric vehicles since 1995, when he joined AC Propulsion and began helping major automakers — including BMW, Tesla, Volkswagen, Yukon, Nissan, Foton, Volvo and Toyota — with electric vehicle development. In 2012, he founded EV Grid, which works with automotive OEMs, fleets, and site operators to develop and supply technology for grid-tied, mobile and stationary battery systems.
Navistar Touts Service Partnership With Love’s Travel Stops
Navistar Inc. has announced a service partnership agreement with Love’s Travel Stops — a move that adds more than 315 Love’s Truck Tire Care and Speedco locations, and over 1,000 technicians, to Navistar’s International service network.
The exclusive partnership — which Navistar projects to be fully operational in the second half of 2019 — authorizes most Love’s and Speedco service locations to handle an array of work covered by a Navistar-issued new-product warranty, as well as the company’s extended warranties and used truck warranties.
All applicable Love’s and Speedco service locations will be authorized to perform warranty work with service repair times of three hours or less for all International Class 6 through Class 8 trucks. And, Love’s locations will accept Fleet Charge cards.
Higher Q4 Revenue, Earnings For Safety-Kleen
The Safety-Kleen segment of Clean Harbors Inc. reported nearly $288 million in direct revenue for the fourth quarter of 2018 — an increase of 5.7 percent over the previous year. Management attributed the growth to higher production volumes, Safety-Kleen’s closed loop initiative, pricing and growth within the branch network’s core lines of business. Parts washer revenue was up slightly tied to pricing.
Safety-Kleen’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grew 1.1 percent to $67.57 million, which marked its 10th consecutive quarter of year-over-year adjusted EBITDA growth.
Repairify Partnering With AutoNation
Repairify Inc. (Plano, TX), maker of the asTech diagnostic device, has announced a partnership with AutoNation Inc., the largest U.S. automotive retailer. For AutoNation, the collaboration means having the technology needed to perform pre- and post-diagnostic and electronic vehicle service for its 85 collision centers.
“Pre- and post-diagnostic scanning for collision repairs is fast becoming the new standard for the repair process,” said Scott Arnold, AutoNation’s executive vice president of customer care and brand extensions. “The diagnostic process ensures onboard vehicle technology is operating properly after the repair of a collision event, which is essential to customer safety and the reliability of their vehicle.”
For Repairify, the partnership will yield technical insights from AutoNation techs who are working on the latest in-vehicle technology.
As of Dec. 31, 2018, AutoNation had over 325 locations coast-to-coast.
We are currently seeking an exceptional Business Development Executive to play an integral role in improving the market position and achieving financial growth for the Auto Care Association. … (more) … Click here to find out more.
RepairPal Ranks Best and Worst Cities For Car Repairs
According to RepairPal, Jacksonville, FL is the best city for car repair and Honolulu is the worst. The conclusions are part of the company’s new study called “America’s Best and Worst Cities for Auto Repair.”
RepairPal used information from multiple sources — including its own internal data from shops nationwide, the U.S. Census and Federal Highway Administration — and based its results on criteria including the number of auto mechanics per car, labor rates, repair invoice totals and road quality.
According to the study, the East Coast overall is most affordable for car owners, while the West Coast is the most expensive. Areas such as Jacksonville, FL; Greensboro, NC; and Richmond, VA fared best when taking into account repair bills, mechanic availability and road conditions. The best 13 cities for car repair are east of the Mississippi, according to the study.
Hawaiians and Californians can expect the highest car repair bills, with six of the 10 worst cities for car repair located in California, according to the report.
There were few bright spots in the Golden State, other than San Diego, which has better-maintained roads and plenty of mechanics to offset higher repair costs.
“We found that California car repairs are generally much more expensive, and road quality there suffers,” Joseph Audette, head of product at RepairPal, said. “Meanwhile, on the East Coast, car repair bills were significantly lower, and road conditions are often better.”
To read the full study, click here.
People Watching 3/12/19
• John Thomas has joined ZAFCO International as vice president of sales – west. Thomas brings over 35 years of tire industry experience, including time as the national sales director – USA for YC Rubber North America. Based in Miami, ZAFCO is a manufacturer and distributor of automotive tires serving wholesalers and retailers across the Americas. Its house brands include Armstrong, Zeetex, Accelera and Forceum.
• Heavy duty vehicle lifts company Stertil-Koni has added John Sliney as its assistant service manager. As such, he provides a variety of services, including technical support, equipment troubleshooting, vehicle lift installation oversight and lift equipment training for the company’s North American distributor network. Sliney was a service technician for Reeder Distributor, a Stertil-Koni dealer in Fort Worth, TX.
• EasyPay Finance, a national provider of customer financing for auto repair shops and tire dealers, has promoted Mary Jones from president to CEO. Scott Vertrees, the company’s CEO since 2003, will continue as executive chairman.
• The Walser Automotive Group, which operates 25 dealerships across Kansas and Minnesota, has hired Brad Schafer as its vice president of fixed operations. Schafer’s focus will be on all areas of service, reconditioning and parts.
News Briefs 3/12/19
• ZF Aftermarket has expanded its ZF [pro]Tech workshop service to the U.S. market. The initiative — which launched in Germany in 2012 — provides independent repair shops with access to vehicle-specific installation instructions, service information, online catalogs, tech bulletins, recorded webinars and a dedicated telephone hotline. It also includes hands-on training held throughout the year close to regional partners. For more information, click here.
• The Mitchell 1 SocialCRM shop marketing service is now offering Google Ads paid search advertising to help shops attract new business and maintain their online presence. The new service includes custom landing pages, unique call tracking phone numbers, ad creation and customization, budget setup, reporting, and full account administration by a SocialCRM support agent.
• The Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA) has announced a corporate partnership with Mudlick Marketing, a multi-channel marketing platform that provides users with direct mail and digital services to help grow their businesses. Mudlick is offering special discount pricing to ASCCA members: $250 off new customer mailings and 10 percent off digital orders.
• Tire Talent (New Rochelle, NY), a boutique search firm specializing in matching employers and employees in the tire and automotive industry, has launched a free industry job board at TireCareers.com.
• Bridgestone Retail Operations (BSRO) reports that it raised nearly $2.80 million to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America through its “Driving Great Futures” initiative in 2018. In the fourth consecutive year of its national partnership, BSRO doubled what it raised in 2017, bringing the total funds raised since 2015 to $6.60 million.
• Tint World Automotive Styling Centers (Boca Raton, FL) had 21 locations in development across the United States and Canada as of Feb. 20, 2019.
Financial Briefs 3/12/19
• For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2018, the Penske Automotive Group reported $536.30 million in service and parts revenue from its retail automotive operations — an increase of 3.7 percent over the same period a year ago. On a same-store basis, service and parts revenue grew 3.9 percent, with customer-pay revenue up 4.3 percent and body shop revenue down 4.3 percent. Service and parts gross profit increased 3.1 percent to $317.80 million. Same-store gross profit was up 2.7 percent. Bloomfield Hill, MI-based Penske had 345 retail automotive franchises at year’s end — of which 154 are located in the United States and 191 are located overseas, primarily in the United Kingdom.
• Group 1 Automotive reported $190.52 million in U.S. parts and service revenue for the fourth quarter of 2018 — an increase of 1.4 percent over the previous year. On a same-store basis, revenue rose 2.1 percent, with wholesale parts revenue up 4 percent and customer-pay revenue up 6 percent. U.S. parts and service gross profit declined 0.5 percent to $151.63 million, while gross margin slipped from 53.2 percent to 52.2 percent on a year-over-year basis. Houston-based Group 1 owns and operates 182 automotive dealerships, 237 franchises and 47 collision centers in the United States, United Kingdom and Brazil.
• Sonic Automotive’s customer-pay parts, service and collision repair revenue decreased 1.8 percent to $137.69 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, while its wholesale parts revenue declined 7.6 percent to $38.30 million. Warranty revenue was down 1.9 percent. On a same-store basis, customer-pay revenue rose 1.8 percent and warranty revenue increased 2.7 percent; however, same-store wholesale parts revenue declined 4.3 percent. As of Dec. 31, 2018, Charlotte-based Sonic had 108 new vehicle franchises (representing 23 different brands of cars and light trucks) as well as 15 collision repair centers across 13 states.
• Lithia Motors’ service, body and parts revenue rose 15.6 percent to $313.90 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. On a same-store basis, revenue increased 5.5 percent, with customer-pay revenue up 8 percent and wholesale parts revenue up 3 percent. Body shop revenue decreased 4 percent. Same-store service, body and parts gross profit climbed 12.5 percent to $137.70 million, and gross margin rose 300 basis points to 49.1 percent. Medford, OR-based Lithia has 181 locations nationwide.
• The Asbury Automotive Group saw its parts and service revenue increase 7.4 percent to $211.10 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Same-store revenue grew 5 percent. Parts and service gross profit increased 7.1 percent to $131.30 million. On a same-store basis, gross profit rose 5 percent, with customer-pay gross profit up 6 percent and wholesale parts gross profit up 7 percent. Duluth, GA-based Asbury had 83 dealerships — consisting of 97 franchises, representing 29 domestic and foreign brands of vehicles — as well as 25 collision repair centers as of Dec. 31, 2018.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 3/12/19
• The Automotive Service Association (ASA) has opened online registration for its 2019 Annual Business Meeting & Conference taking place April 30 to May 2 in Hurst, TX. Information about the meeting, a schedule of events and online registration are available at ASAshop.org/annualmeeting. The early-bird registration deadline is March 24 (save $50).
• Exhibit space at the Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide 2019 Training Event & Trade Show sold out, with 72 exhibitors and 84 booths, according to event organizers. The show ran Feb. 21-23 in Anaheim, CA. The 2020 show, which will mark the training event’s 40th anniversary, is planned for Feb. 19-22 at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center in Nashville.