New Chief Executive For Kukui
Kukui Corp. has a new CEO: Lorie Sharp. She succeeds Todd Westerlund, who will continue to lead Kukui’s sales and marketing as chief revenue officer. Sharp brings more than 20 years of experience leading global automotive companies, most recently as the managing director of asTech. She also is a former senior vice president of sales for Identifix.
Mudlick Mail Gets A New Name, Wider Purview
Clearview Capital has launched a new full-service marketing agency called UpSwell, which was formed through the combination of Mudlick Mail and Muscle Up Marketing, two specialty marketing firms that Clearview acquired back in 2018.
Mudlick was a provider of customized direct-mail campaigns for clients, particularly businesses in the automotive repair and dental industries. Muscle Up specialized in multichannel print and digital marketing campaigns for businesses in the fitness and wellness sectors.
The merged firms have been operating under the Mudlick umbrella. But, according to management, a new name was needed to reflect the agency’s focus on growth across sectors. UpSwell’s mission is to help clients in a variety of industries attract new customers using data-driven marketing.
“We’ve expanded our capabilities to handle all aspects of marketing on a variety of platforms,” UpSwell President Tim Ross said in an announcement dated March 4. “With that full-service approach and our emphasis on hyper-local targeting, we feel confident that our clients will reach the consumers most likely to become customers.”
In addition to Ross, who founded Mudlick, UpSwell’s management includes Muscle Up Founder Jon Butts, who now serves as senior vice president of marketing; CEO Zenon Olbrys; and Senior Vice President of Sales Nelson Rodenmayer.
Mobile Vehicle Service Startups Combine
Daimler AG-backed RepairSmith has acquired CarDash, a startup that launched out of Y Combinator in 2017 after raising $5.30 million in funding. CarDash offered same-day valet service to transport cars to and from repair shops in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
RepairSmith operates a delivery and drop-off service for vehicle service across all major metropolitan areas in California and in Las Vegas.
“CarDash made tremendous investments in the logistics, dispatch and operational systems required to provide consumers concierge-level car repair at their doorstep,” said RepairSmith CEO Joel Milne. “And, with this deal, RepairSmith is enhancing our technology platform to modernize the car repair experience.”
RepairSmith plans to incorporate CarDash’s technology to enhance its product offering and will service all customers from RepairSmith going forward, according to a Feb. 26 announcement.
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Driven Brands Hires Finance Chief
Charlotte-based Driven Brands has added Tiffany Mason as its executive vice president and CFO. Mason is tasked with overseeing all finance, accounting and IT functions for the company, as well as strengthening Driven’s shared service platform and driving its organic and acquisition growth agenda.
Mason was the interim CFO of Lowe’s, where she also led the treasury, investor relations, tax, M&A and corporate planning departments. Prior to Lowe’s, Mason was vice president of SEC reporting at Bank of America.
Driven is the parent company to a number of North American automotive aftermarket brands, including Take 5 Oil Change, Meineke Car Care Centers, the Automotive Training Institute, Maaco, Carstar, ABRA and 1-800-Radiator & A/C. The company has over 3,100 locations across the United States and Canada.
Tirescanner Adds Mobile Tire Installation
Tirescanner, an online tire retailer, has launched a national, direct-to-consumer mobile tire installation service that’s designed to complement its network of brick-and-mortar partner locations. The new service allows customers to receive next-day installation of any brand and size of tire at home or at work.
The company’s mobile installation service is now available in 35 states and will cover all 50 states by 2021, according to an announcement dated Feb. 20. Tirescanner’s brick-and-mortar network of independent partners currently spans 48 states.
Tirescanner was founded by Mike Welch, who serves as its CEO. He’s no stranger to online tire retailing. In 2015, Welch sold Blackcircles.com, a large European online tire retailer, to Michelin.
Tirescanner is billed as an end-to-end platform enabling consumers to research, purchase and schedule tire installation appointments online. The company supports local businesses by partnering with trusted store-based and van-based tire retailers.
RNR Tire Express Announces Midwest Expansion
The tire and custom wheel franchise RNR Tire Express has announced an agreement to bring 25 new locations to Indiana over the next five years. The first are scheduled to open in Anderson and Muncie this spring. The agreement also will bring RNR to Kokomo, Marion and Fort Wayne.
“As a brand based in the Southeast, we are thrilled to further develop across the Midwest on our mission to make safe tires and wheels accessible to communities across the nation,” said Larry Sutton, founder and president of RNR, which offers and installs tires and custom wheels using a business model that allows customers to pay off their purchases on weekly or monthly plans.
Established in 2000, RNR now has 130 locations across 24 states.
TIA Plans Seven Advanced ATS Instructor Training Classes In 2020
This year, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) will hold seven advanced instructor training classes nationwide for its Automotive Tire Service (ATS) certification course.
The class — designed for passenger and light-truck tire technicians — provides 300- and 400-level certification on the recommended procedures for servicing passenger and light-truck tires. The course consists of 15 modules on subjects ranging from the relationship between torque and clamping force to tire pressure monitoring system relearn procedures on domestic and import vehicles.
The program also includes a module on “Tire Conditions Analysis” that uses images from TIA’s Passenger & Light-Truck Tire Conditions Manual to educate technicians on the most likely reasons for common irregular treadwear patterns.
Participants who successfully pass the four-day course will be certified as advanced ATS instructors, allowing them to certify ATS instructors and technicians in the field.
The 2020 certified ATS instructor training course will be held primarily on the following dates …
• March 24-27 in Charlotte, NC.
• April 7-10 in Louisville, KY;
• May 19-22 in Mission Viejo, CA.
• Aug. 4-7 in Denver.
• Sept. 1-4 in Seattle
• Oct. 6-9 in Baltimore.
• Dec. 8-11 in Detroit.
Hunter, Kimoby Partner On Inspection Results
The Hunter Engineering Company has announced an integration with Kimoby to automatically send inspection results to customers via text. As vehicles drive through Hunter’s autonomous inspection systems, Quick Check Drive and Quick Tread Edge, alignment and tire tread depth results are captured and automatically sent to the customer using Kimoby’s technology.
Kimoby offers a cloud-based communication platform that allows smart and automated two-way conversation, as well as the transmission of multimedia content. Kimoby can help shops automate such daily routine communications as appointment reminders, confirmations, status updates and customer satisfaction follow-ups.
Find A Wrench Is Now A Jasper Preferred Partner
Jasper Engines & Transmissions has announced a partnership with Find A Wrench (FAW) to offer tools and services for independent shops and dealerships that are struggling to find technicians, service advisers and service managers. Find A Wrench works with shops and businesses across the country, helping them find and acquire staff, as well as develop strategies aimed at fixing their problems.
The joint program, called FAW 4-Speed Recruiting, helps with technician recruitment through job boards, social recruiting, personalized outreach and applicant management.
“Our goal at Jasper is to find added value that we can bring to the aftermarket,” said Vice President of Sales Joe McDonald. “Recruiting the right technician continues to be a big issue in our industry. Find A Wrench has brought a professional approach to recruiting talent and something the Jasper brand can stand behind. We’re excited to offer our loyal customer base another tool to help them thrive in today’s competitive environment.”
Mahle Diagnostic Tools Gain Full Access To FCA’s OBD Interface
Mahle has announced an agreement with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) that gives users of Mahle’s diagnostic tools — such as TechPro or Connex — access to FCA’s servers and the ability to retrieve information for diagnostics and service.
This comes in the wake of the vehicle manufacturer protecting its OBD interfaces with a security gateway. The gateway is designed to stop third parties from gaining access to security-relevant functions of FCA’s vehicles through diagnostic and connectivity protocols.
According to Mahle, changes to these vehicle systems were previously only possible using original FCA testers. Now, shops can purchase access from Mahle in the form of an annual subscription that will allow access to FCA’s portal.
“All relevant diagnostic additions will then be available and can be fully used,” said Joachim Schneeweiss – Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) sales manager for Mahle Aftermarket Service Solutions. “Users will be able to work with their diagnostic tool from Mahle as usual, switching quickly to the FCA server in order to download the certificate that is required for certain service functions.”
Matco Distributors To Sell Motor Manuals, Guides
Motor Information Systems will deliver its line of manuals and guides through a new distribution network: Matco Tools, a leading manufacturer and distributor of professional automotive repair tools, diagnostic equipment and toolboxes. With this partnership, customers can now purchase Motor’s collection of repair manuals and labor time guides exclusively from Matco’s nearly 2,000 distributors.
“We are excited to have this exclusive opportunity to be the sole distributor of Motor manuals,” said Hilda Shipcka, Matco’s vice president of marketing and e-business. “We are looking forward to being able to provide this product to our customer base. This new opportunity will help our Matco distributors continue to grow their business in the market.”
Matco Touts Anti-Idling Tech. For Mobile Tool Trucks
Volta Power Systems and Summit Bodyworks are partnering with Matco Tools on anti-idling systems for mobile tool trucks. Volta builds lithium ion energy systems for various mobile applications, including RVs, utility vehicles and work trucks. Summit Bodyworks has over 30 years of experience building custom tool stores and other specialty vehicles.
Matco released a line of trucks featuring the energy-saving systems last month at its National Tool Expo Conference in San Diego.
“We’re excited to be able to offer our franchisees and customers a better, quieter, more environmentally conscious shopping and selling experience,” said Matco President Tim Gilmore. “The Volta system will also help our franchisees cut maintenance costs by cutting the strain of continuous engine idling.”
This comes at a time when more than half of all states have idling-reduction or restrictive emissions laws.
Applications Available For Garage Gurus Automotive Technician Scholarship Program
Garage Gurus, the training and support platform from DRiV Inc., will award as much as $30,000 in scholarships to future automotive technicians who are accepted or currently enrolled in accredited, U.S.-based automotive technical schools, colleges and universities, or enrolled full-time at a U.S. high school.
Applications are now available for the opportunity to receive one of a dozen $2,500 Garage Gurus Automotive Technician Scholarships for the 2020-‘21 school year. All material must be submitted by April 30. Winners will be announced on or about June 1. For more information, visit www.garagegurus.tech.
Transtar’s Transend Technology Integrates With Manager SE From Mitchell1
Transtar Industries (Walton Hills, OH), a distributor of automotive aftermarket transmission and driveline parts, has announced a collaboration with Mitchell1 that makes Transtar’s nationwide network of parts accessible through Mitchell1’s Manager SE business management software. This allows repair shop users to order transmission and driveline products within Manager SE through an integrated tool that automates orders through Transtar’s Transend system.
“We are thrilled to integrate with Transtar,” Mitchell1’s senior product marketing manager, Tim McDonnell, said. “Their software, Transend, enhances our unparalleled parts catalog portfolio with a user-requested category previously unaddressed.”
Associations Honor Newest World Class Technicians
More than 60 people are being recognized as “World Class Technicians” this year. The Auto Care Association and ASE annually recognize professional technicians who have attained ASE certification in 22 specific areas during the previous calendar year. Click here to see the newest round of “World Class Technicians.”
There are an estimated 879,000 techs in the United States, with approximately 250,000 holding ASE certification. More than 2,000 techs have earned “World Class Technician” status since the program’s inception over 30 years ago.
Valvoline Debuts Mechanics’ Month
Valvoline Inc. has launched a new initiative called “Valvoline Mechanics’ Month.” During the month of March, the company plans to honor mechanics across all of its non-U.S. markets. This will include events, social media activations, giveaways, and advertising designed to heighten the awareness and appreciation of technicians’ around the globe.
A New Mission Statement For ASE
The ASE board of directors has established a new mission statement: “To serve the transportation industry as an independent third party that upholds and promotes high standards of service and repair through the assessment, certification, and credentialing of current and future industry professionals.”
Tim Zilke, president and CEO of ASE, said the new mission statement not only defines the organization’s strategic direction “but establishes a solid foundation for us to incorporate changing technologies into the ASE certification program.”
Lift Institute Partners With S/P2 On ‘Lifting It Right: School Edition’
S/P2 will be the exclusive supplier of a new “School Edition” of the Automotive Lift Institute’s Lifting It Right online car lift safety training course. Lifting It Right: School Edition is an interactive, online course that covers the variety of lift types used in professional vehicle service and repair shops, proper lifting and lowering, and the importance of planned lift maintenance. The course will be available for purchase to the 3,000 high school, post-secondary and technical school programs in S/P2’s national network.
“S/P2 is the preferred learning management system provider for schools in the United States and is strongly aligned with the ASE Education Foundation,” said ALI President Bob O’Gorman. “Partnering with them gives us broader reach for the course and makes it easy for schools to add it to their curriculums.”
Stertil-Koni Adds Shop Equipment Specialist To Lead New Sales Initiative
Stertil-Koni has named Carl Boyer as its shop equipment specialist focused on partnering with the company’s distributors in providing equipment to heavy-duty repair facilities, fleets and U.S. military customers across North America.
In making the announcement, Stertil-Koni President Jean DellAmore stressed the importance of this position to the company’s customers. “As the established leader in heavy-duty vehicle lifting systems, Stertil-Koni has expanded its capabilities in the delivery of world-class shop equipment,” DellAmore explained. “Importantly, this equipment is specifically engineered to be used in conjunction with our lifting systems to help the busy technician on the shop floor work in an environment that is more efficient, ergonomically sound and safe.”
Previously, Boyer worked at two business units of Snap-on Inc. — first as North American sales manager for the company’s TruckCam group and then as OEM sales manager of Car-O-Liner. His career also includes an earlier stint with Stertil-Koni, where he focused on growing sales with both national accounts and the U.S. military.
HDA Truck Pride Debuts New Training Portal
HDA Truck Pride has launched a new training portal, HDA Truck Pride University, featuring technical, safety, regulatory, customer service, leadership and sales training. Users can search for courses by category or by supplier, assign curriculum-based training by user or by group type, and track course completion in real time. The portal is available to all HDA Truck Pride members, Truck Service Experts, Fleet Service Experts and National Fleets.
Dana Broadens Commercial Vehicle Tech. Training
Dana Inc. has broadened its “Driveline Forensics” commercial vehicle technician training series to include maintenance and inspection videos covering front non-drive steer axles and rear-drive axle carriers. Dana plans to continue expanding the “Driveline Forensics” series throughout 2020. The videos are available at dana.com/commercial-vehicles under “Tools and Training.”
VinAudit Expands Vehicle History Service To Canada
VinAudit.com, a vehicle data company that has served the U.S. market since 2012, is bringing its vehicle history report service to Canada with VinAudit.ca. The new site offers the ability to check a VIN registered in Canada and produce a vehicle history report that includes registration, salvage, theft and buyback records, as well as various supplemental resources, including a U.S. history report that checks for any events that may have happened in the United States.
Growing OE and aftermarket brake company manufacturer is seeking professional and reputable representation in Canada. Experience in hard parts with established relationships … (more) … Click here to find out more.
People Watching 3/9/20
• Pietro Berardi is now the CEO of Pirelli North America, with Marco Crola becoming chairman for the region. Berardi’s background includes time as the chief executive of Magneti Marelli Aftermarket Parts & Services.
• Forte Universal de Mexico, a leading tire importer and distributor in Mexico, has announced Angel Zepeda Berrelleza as its new managing director. Up until Oct. 31, 2019, Zepeda was the commercial and operations director for TBC de Mexico. He had been with TBC for 28 years.
• Gary Tatum has retired. Tatum was a sales development trainer for Myers Tire Supply’s distribution business. His background also includes time as a regional sales manager for the Patch Rubber Company and as a senior engineer with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
News Briefs 3/9/20
• Tuffy Tire & Auto Service is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
• Wanda and Larry Fullmer have purchased the rights to become Auto-Lab Complete Car Care Centers area developers. They are seeking franchisees throughout Illinois, as well as in Milwaukee.
• The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) expects passenger replacement tire shipments to increase 0.4% to 223.40 million in 2020. Light-truck replacement tire shipments are forecast to grow 0.3% to 32.70 million.
• Applications are due March 31 for the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Minnesota’s annual scholarship program. Awards of $1,000 per person can be applied toward tuition or tool purchases for students enrolled in post-secondary automotive service programs. Click here for more information on the AASP-MN scholarship initiative.
• MotoRad is returning as a sponsor of the Technician Academy’s annual “Respect is Learned in the Pits” contest. The program gives college students the opportunity to work hands-on in the pits on Top Alcohol Dragsters. This year, two students will be chosen from a pool of applicants to work alongside the Randy Meyer Racing drag race team. This is MotoRad’s third year supporting the endeavor.
• A new addition to TruckSeries truck repair software from Mitchell1 includes interactive features that allow technicians to access component repair information directly from inside wiring diagrams without having to initiate a secondary search.
• Pressure Systems International (PSI) has launched a dedicated website for its TireView tire pressure monitoring system at tireview.com.
Financial Briefs 3/9/20
• AutoNation Inc. reported $891.30 million in fourth-quarter 2019 parts and service revenue — an increase of 2.7% compared to the previous year. Parts and service gross profit grew 2.8% to $402.80 million. On a same-store basis, gross profit rose 4.0%.
• For the fourth quarter of 2019, the Penske Automotive Group reported $541.90 million in service and parts revenue from its retail automotive operations — an increase of 1.0% year-over-year. On a same-store basis, revenue was up 2.7%. Service and parts gross profit from retail automotive operations grew 2.1% to $324.40 million. On a same-store basis, gross profit rose 3.2%.
• Sonic Automotive reported $346.51 million in parts, service and collision repair (fixed operations) revenue for the fourth quarter of 2019 — up 2.1% compared to the previous year. On a same-store basis, fixed operations revenue increased 6.8%. Same-store customer-pay revenue grew 7.8% to $139.27 million, while same-store wholesale parts revenue rose 8.0% to $39.40 million. Sonic’s fixed operations gross profit increased 0.9% to $165.29 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 (up 6.1% on a same-store basis).
• For the fourth quarter of 2019, Lithia Motors saw its service, body and parts revenue rise 5.7% to $331.80 million (up 3.7% on a same-store basis). Same-store service, body and parts gross profit grew 5.7% to $159.60 million, with same-store gross margin up 100 basis points to 50.2%.
• Group 1 Automotive’s fourth-quarter 2019 parts and service sales increased 6.9% to $379.20 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. U.S. parts and service sales rose 7.5% to $312.30 million. On a same-store basis, U.S. parts and service sales grew 8.1%. U.S. parts and service gross profit rose 11.6% to $169.20 million, with same-store gross profit up 11.9%. Group 1’s consolidated parts and service gross profit increased 10.1% to $204.30 million.
• For the fourth quarter of 2019, the Asbury Automotive Group came through with $211.10 million in parts and service revenue — a rise of 8.8% year-over-year. On a same-store basis, revenue increased 4.6%. Parts and service gross profit grew 8.1% to $141.90 million. On a same-store basis, gross profit increased 4.1%. Same-store customer-pay gross profit rose 4.2% to $76.50 million, while same-store wholesale parts gross profit increased 1.7% to $6.00 million.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 3/9/20
• According to the Auto-Wares Group of Companies, a record 3,366 service technicians, parts store owners and other automotive aftermarket professionals attended the Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Tech Expo, which took place Feb. 14-15 in Grand Rapids, MI. The event featured training seminars focused on technical and managerial topics, as well as supplier tradeshow with representatives from more than 240 companies.
• Patrick Dorais from the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) will speak at the MAP Technical Conference, which will take place May 4-7 in San Diego in conjunction with the spring meeting of NASTF and the Equipment & Tool Institute’s Tool Tech event. Click here for more information about the conference.
• The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Minnesota (AASP-MN) will hold its annual meeting and leadership conference April 23 at Delta Hotels by Marriott Minneapolis Northeast. The event will include seminars designed for auto service and collision repair shop owners and managers. For additional information, visit aaspmn.org.