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Service Executive Issue #7-12 (Full)

Industry Associations Request FTC Intervention On Kia ‘Aftermarket Oil Filters’ Bulletin

Four industry associations have written the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking it to require Kia Motors to withdraw a February 2012 technical service bulletin on aftermarket oil filters and to issue a correction stating that the use of non-Kia oil filters is permissible and that it would be the automaker’s burden to prove that a non-Kia part caused any alleged damage before denying warranty coverage.

The groups — AAIA, the Automotive Oil Change Association, the Service Station Dealers of America & Allied Trades, and the Tire Industry Association — argue that the FTC’s lack of action on previous Magnuson Moss Warranty Act (MMWA) complaints is leading to more car companies misleading consumers regarding the use of non-OE parts. Additionally, they argue that the absence of action on the part of the FTC has led automakers to ratchet up “unlawful rhetoric and service directives.”

“Immediate action is needed to both protect consumers from Kia in the short term, and to stop other automakers from jumping on this anti-consumer bandwagon,” the May 7 letter reads.

This latest missive follows previous complaints filed with the FTC regarding …
• A 2010 announcement from Honda that stated “only by purchasing Honda Genuine parts through an authorized U.S. Honda dealer can you be assured of the replacement part’s authenticity, reliability and compatibility.”
• A 2011 complaint over a Mazda notice recommending that all maintenance and collision repairs be performed using Genuine Mazda Parts and stating that only Genuine Mazda Parts purchased from an authorized Mazda dealer are specifically covered by the Mazda warranty.

A number of aftermarket groups wrote to the FTC pointing out that the MMWA makes it illegal for vehicle makers or dealers to claim that a consumer’s warranty is void or to deny warranty coverage simply because someone other than the dealer provided service.

The FTC responded to the Honda complaint by issuing an alert letting consumers know their right to choose and indicating that an independent technician, a retail chain shop or even the car owner could do routine maintenance and repairs on their vehicles without jeopardizing the new car warranty.

The FTC has yet to respond to complaints about the Mazda bulletin, and now it has another automaker’s actions to consider.

The groups point out in their letter of May 7, 2012, that Kia — in Technical Service Bulletin #114 dated February 2012 with the subject heading “AFTERMARKET OIL FILTERS” — states the following:

Kia does not test or approve any aftermarket filters and only recommends the use of Kia genuine parts that are designed to operate at the specifications set forth during engine lubrication design and testing. If the engine oil has been changed recently and a noise condition has developed, perform an inspection of the oil filter and or Customer oil change maintenance records to help you in determining if an aftermarket filter or the wrong oil viscosity was used. If the vehicle is equipped with an aftermarket oil filter, perform an oil change and filter using the correct oil grade / viscosity and a replacement genuine Kia oil filter at the customer’s expense.

The aftermarket groups take issue with three things. First, the specification of “an aftermarket oil filter” as reason alone to replace the filter at the customer’s expense. They say this means that simply using an aftermarket part can void the warranty on a 2012 Kia. Secondly, they point out that Kia’s bulletin doesn’t contemplate diagnostic work to determine the source of any “noise condition,” but rather directs technicians to assume an aftermarket oil filter is to blame.

Additionally, they take issue with Kia’s directive that technicians automatically charge customers to replace aftermarket oil filters with Kia oil filters regardless of whether the aftermarket filter actually caused a problem. “This sounds remarkably similar to a warranty-voiding clause combined with a directive to ignore the manufacturer’s burden of proof under MMWA,” the aftermarket groups wrote in their letter. “To be perfectly clear that this is the case, Kia goes on to state the following: ‘Note: Customer concerns as a result of incorrect oil viscosity or use of aftermarket oil filter should not be treated as a warranty repair and any related damage is not warrantable, nor is changing the engine oil and filter to isolate this condition.’

They contend that, if a technician changes the aftermarket filter and the problem turns out to be caused by something else, warranty coverage for the service is nevertheless denied. “Every Kia customer using an aftermarket oil filter will lose warranty coverage for at least the parts and services associated with the Kia-directed automatic oil and filter change, as well as damages for other engine problems Kia alleges to be ‘related’ to oil filter function,” the group’s letter claims. “The MMWA manufacturer’s burden of proof is not that it need merely show an aftermarket part ‘relates’ to damage, but that it ‘caused’ any alleged damage.”

[Editor’s Note: Click here to see a copy of the aforementioned letter.]

 

Large Valvoline Instant Oil Change Franchisee Files Chapter 11

Great Lakes Quick Lube, which bills itself as the largest Valvoline Instant Oil Change franchisee in the Midwest, filed for Chapter-11 bankruptcy protection last month. Facing acute cash needs, the company seeks to restructure the relationship with its franchisor, to preserve the value of the business and to protect jobs.

The West Allis, WI-based company employs roughly 440 people and operates 64 Valvoline Instant Oil Change centers in Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Kentucky. Not too long ago, Great Lakes had 107 lube centers.

The company started off in 2004 with 47 lube centers in Wisconsin and Illinois that it acquired. Between 2004 and 2011, it continued to acquire shops. However, Great Lakes has struggled with profitability since its inception.

By 2010, according to court records, the economy — in particular, high gas prices — created “extreme competition” in the oil change services industry. Great Lakes responded by increasing its advertising campaigns and discounts to customers in an attempt to maintain its business. Nonetheless, business declined.

The cost of oil increased during this time, which increased Great Lakes’ cost of goods and further reduced its profitability, according to an affidavit from Great Lakes president Jimmy Wheat. “The downward pressure was felt particularly hard in the smaller markets, where business was already low,” Wheat’s affidavit reads.

As a further strain on operating capital, the company was unable to renew its historical line of credit with JPMorgan and was required to make payments toward retirement of the line of credit in 2010 and 2011. By January 2011, when additional equity funding was not available, Valvoline declined to continue to provide support for product purchases and required prepayment for product orders.

Wheat’s affidavit points out that, at times, product shipment was interrupted. It further states that the prepayment requirement made it impossible for Great Lakes to order product in quantities sufficient to take advantage of any bulk pricing. This further increased the company’s cost of goods by as much as 2 percent, or approximately $1 million in excess cost in 2011.

Additionally, the affidavit claims that Valvoline declined to provide signage allowances for stores that were acquired in late 2010 and demanded that all national fleet accounts receivable payments due to Great Lakes be directed to Valvoline.

The company has closed 43 lube centers since July 2011, leaving it with a “central core” of 64 locations that management believes will be profitable after restructuring.

Great Lakes estimates its assets to be between $1 million and $10 million, and its liabilities to be between $10 million and $50 million. Among the creditors holding the 20 largest unsecured claims against the company are Interstate Battery with a disputed claim of roughly $187,5000; the city of Milwaukee, which is seeking just under $198,500 in real estate taxes; and the Milwaukee Brewers with a marketing claim of approximately $136,700.

 

Leadership Changes At Midas Post TBC Acquisition

TBC Corp. has put new leadership in place for the Midas organization following its acquisition of the Itasca, IL-based auto service chain and the subsequent departure of Midas CEO Alan Feldman. He had been Midas’ CEO since 2003.

Mike Gould, a 32-year veteran of Midas, has been appointed senior vice president and chief operating officer. He has served as senior vice president of franchise operations since 2009. Prior to that, Gould was vice president of retail operations. He also served as vice president of Midas’ company-operated shop business from 2005-‘07.

TBC also has appointed Tim Garza as the vice president of Midas franchise operations. Garza had been serving as the division vice president for TBC’s Tire Kingdom shops in Georgia and Florida. He has been with TBC since 2009. He joined the company from Southeast Toyota Distributors, where he held a variety of senior management positions over a 33-year span.

Meanwhile, Midas veteran Phil Hultquist has been named vice president – western division. He previously was the west regional manager, responsible for more than 300 Midas stores across 13 states. Gerry Schwall, who previously served as Northeast regional manager, is now Midas’ vice president – east division.

Glenn Root remains vice president of Midas’ Canadian operations. He is a veteran of the Canadian service and tire industry, having worked for Goodyear Canada, Canadian Tire and Beverly Tire before joining Midas.

 

Monro Buys 18 Retail Tire & Service Shops In North Carolina, Virginia

Monro Muffler Brake is buying 18 retail tire stores in North Carolina and Virginia from Colony Tire & Service Centers. This is effectively all of Colony Tire’s retail tire business. (Colony is retaining a single location in Edenton, NC, where Colony is headquartered).

In exchange for selling its retail stores, Colony is acquiring from Monro the commercial business Rochester, NY-based Monro got along with its purchase of the Kramer Tire Co. earlier this year.

The deal allows Monro to increase its tire and service shop footprint in Virginia and North Carolina, and allows Colony to focus on its commercial/wholesale tire operations.

 

Point Of View: Pleased To Hear Shop Owner Talk About The Advantage Of Having A Parts Inventory On Site

It has almost become a cliché, but no top-shelf, executive-level aftermarket conference is complete these days without at least one shop owner or technician panel — the industry’s attempt to always keep the top of the channel in touch with the reality at the end of the channel. That is not to take a cynical approach to such presentations or the planning by those putting together these programs. To the contrary, most of the panels I have seen have been well done, usually utilizing a good representative from the shop level, a well-versed example of the automotive entrepreneurial class.

Too often, I am a bit surprised to hear some of the executive attendees expressing surprise that someone at the shop level was so articulate, so insightful, so learned. I guess the “grease monkey” expectations are hard to kill off, even from those in our industry who should know better. Luckily, those attitudes are few and far between.

At last week’s Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) held in the Chicago area, there were a couple of panels on the agenda that included shop owners, one of which stood out to me in a fundamental way, with one shop owner taking an approach in his business that is a bit unusual these days, and a throwback to the way many shops used to operate in the past.

The subject covered by that panel on the first day of a two-day event was “What’s Driving the Supply Chain?,” a panel moderated by Babcox vice president Jeff Stankard, that explored the ever-present aftermarket challenge of delivering the right part at the right time to the right place — all against the backdrop of immense parts proliferation, technological complexities and a vehicle parc that overwhelms the mind. The panel members — including a couple of program group leaders, a parts store operator and a shop owner — examined what each level of the supply chain can do to help make their customers along the channel stronger and more effective businesses today and down the road.  It was certainly a presentation that captured the attention of the approximately 300 industry leaders in attendance, folks who are guiding the industry these days and in the years to come.

The shop owner member of this panel was Pat Weber, the owner and CEO of Glenview, IL-based Weber Automotive Service, and acting vice president to Chicagoland’s Bumper-to-Bumper Association. Weber, who is currently an ASE Master Certified Technician and L1 Advanced Engine Performance Specialist and is presently working toward his Accredited Automotive Manager designation, has the business in his blood, working at a small gas station at the age of 13, receiving training through work at the Glenview Naval Air Station and while working as a mechanic through high school. He was wise enough to mix mechanical training with an associate’s degree in business and a four-year degree in automotive at Oakton Community College.

But there was something that Weber said that piqued everyone’s interest, including panel members. Weber said he has often been challenged by his peers and colleagues concerning this one point as well. According to Weber, he carries a reasonably significant inventory of parts in his shop, and he does it because it keeps repairs moving, keeping techs productive, and servicing customer’s vehicles quicker and more efficiently than if he had to order every part he needs every time he works on a vehicle. And even the panel members seem to roll their eyes significantly as Weber said he was willing to make that kind of significant investment in his repair and service business since it made the process move more efficiently.

Maybe it was the old-timer in me, but I was pleased to hear a shop owner talk about the advantage of having a parts inventory on site — something that used to be a given for any moderately busy shop, a fundamental lynchpin in effective shop operations not that many years ago. It takes a reasonably-significant investment to operate a shop like that, but I believe, as Weber said, it also gives him just one more way to meet the challenges of today’s service business, a means to deliver what the customer expects: a reliable and quick repair at a reasonable price.

I’m certainly not in a position to say all shops need to operate with this kind of strategy, but I can’t help but think that Pat Weber knows that the path to success is paved with this kind of commitment — and it is something those further up the channel need to support in making shops like Weber’s effective in their mission to serve the automotive consumer.

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Gary A. Molinaro, Editor/Publisher

 

AAA Expects Memorial Day Weekend Auto Travel To Rise 1.2%

AAA projects that 34.8 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend — an increase of 1.2 percent, or 500,000 travelers, from the 34.30 million people who traveled a year ago. Additionally, the average distance traveled by Americans during the holiday weekend is expected to be 642 miles, which is 150 miles less than last year.

Roughly 30.70 million people plan to drive to their destination — an increase of 1.2 percent from the 30.30 million who drove last year. Automobile travel will account for 88 percent of all holiday travel.

A survey of intended travelers found that 53 percent said recent increases in gasoline prices would not impact their Memorial Day holiday travel plans. Of the remaining 47 percent who said gas prices would impact their plans, 9 percent are planning to take a shorter trip, 4 percent will travel by an alternate mode of transportation, and 34 percent will economize in other areas, including lower spending on entertainment, staying at a lower-priced hotel and staying with friends and relatives instead of reserving a hotel room.

AAA reports that the current national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is approximately $0.25 lower than this time last year.

 

CarMD Has Moved Its Headquarters To Irvine, CA

CarMD Corp. has relocated from Fountain Valley, CA to nearby Irvine. The automotive information and diagnostic products company now occupies a 100,000-square-foot facility that is comprised of 30,000 square feet of office space, 20,000 square feet of automotive testing space and 50,000 square feet of warehouse space.

 

Bosch Now Offers Part Finder App For iPads, iPhones

Bosch has launched an app for iPhones and iPads to help users find the correct Bosch part number for spark plugs, wiper blades, oxygen sensors, fuel pumps, or battery chargers and accessories for virtually any vehicle operating in the United States and Canada. Results include images, features and (for most parts) technical attributes.

 

Reality Show About Female Shop Owner Debuts Online

A new online reality show has launched centered around a female auto service technician. The program follows Pam Oakes, shop owner and operator; her long-time fiancé, Peter; and the rest of the staff of Pam’s Motor City in Fort Myers, FL. ACDelco is the sponsor.

The first two episodes of the show, “Car E.R.,” can be viewed at www.car-ershow.com. Producers hope to have the show get picked up by a feature network following first-run distribution via the Internet.

 

Canadian Drivers Also Deferring Essential Maintenance, Repairs

Canadians are tightening their purse strings and driving their vehicles longer than ever before, according to the 2011 Canadian Automotive Demand Study produced by AIA Canada in cooperation with DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. The study, which examined the habits of Canadian motorists, found that the average Canadian vehicle is 8.52 years old and aging. In 2011, vehicles between the ages of six and 12 increased by 2 million units, rising from 38.3 percent to 41.8 percent of Canada’s total vehicle fleet.

Notwithstanding the increasing age of their vehicles, many Canadian drivers are delaying essential vehicle maintenance and repairs … or simply not performing any at all.

Potential industry demand for maintenance and repairs is CDN$30.40 billion annually, while actual services performed is CDN$18.49 billion, according to the study. 
If all Canadians were to maintain their vehicle as recommended, an additional CDN$11.91 billion would flow into all levels of the supply chain.

 

Speedemissions Able To Pare Losses, Despite Drop In Revenue

In spite of a 9-percent decrease in net sales, Speedemissions Inc. was able to narrow its net loss from $143,951 a year ago to a loss of $116,782 in the first quarter of 2012. This was possible because of decreased store operating expenses, as well as lower general and administrative expenses.

Revenue fell from $2.11 million to $1.92 million because of the closure of two underperforming stores, along with a decrease in same-store sales of 6.8 percent. Management attributed the decrease in same-store sales to revisions in emission-testing laws in Texas and Utah, resulting in an increase in the number of testing competitors.

“To mitigate the plethora of new competitors, we launched three initiatives. First, operating expenses at both the corporate and store level have been significantly reduced. Concurrent to that, we expect to close additional underperforming stores,” explained Richard Parlontieri, president and CEO. “Lastly, we have stepped up efforts in the selling of our limited product line (windshield wipers, light bulbs, etc.). We continue to see strong growth in this area despite a decrease in overall tests. And, to bolster same-store sales even more, we expect to add other automotive services sometime this year.”

Atlanta-based Speedemissions operates vehicle emissions and safety inspection centers in Atlanta, Houston, St. Louis and Salt Lake City.

 

Safety-Kleen Backing PQIA Efforts To Assure Lubricants’ Quality

Safety-Kleen Systems has come out in support of the Petroleum Quality Institute of America (PQIA) and its efforts to safeguard the quality and integrity of lubricants in the marketplace. PQIA’s goal is wider conformance by lubricant manufacturers to specification and performance claims. Other PQIA supporters include Chevron, Citgo, Phillips 66, Lubrizol, Universal Lubricants and Warren Distribution.

 

Universal Lubricants Expands Its Reach With Acquisition

Wichita, KS-based Universal Lubricants, a manufacturer and distributor of automotive and industrial lubricants using re-refined base oils, has acquired Midstate Environmental Services of Robstown, TX. Midstate processes used oil for thousands of clients throughout Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana. Midstate will continue to operate under its own name, but its employees and facilities will be integrated into Universal Lubricants’ existing operations.

The acquisition will expand the size and scale of Universal’s facilities and expands the company’s reach to 16 states.

 

TCS Technologies Launches Facebook Tire Shopping App

Tire Company Solutions/TCS Technologies has launched a tire and wheel searching application allowing consumers to get a quote and even buy a tire or wheel from a dealer’s Facebook page. The app allows a dealer to specify what tire and wheel products are displayed when a user searches by vehicle, size or brand. The tire and wheel results are displayed with a photo of the product, specifications, features and benefits, and even price, if the dealer so chooses.

Pricing can be pulled real-time from the dealer’s software or even display pricing and quantity from multi-distributor channels. Dealers who choose not to display pricing can have the option to include a “Request a Quote” button next to each product. These dealers receive an email containing consumer contact information and what product they would like a quote on.

 

CustomerLink Announces Partnership With Compu-Power

CustomerLink Systems has partnered with Compu-Power to provide automated marketing services to tire retailers and wholesalers who use Compu-Power’s cloud-based, licensed tire management software, TRACS. Through this collaboration, TRACS users get access to technology for customer review gathering, email and postcard service reminder programs, Facebook and Twitter automation, and a consumer demographics-driven system for finding new customers.

 

Ron Nagy Continues As ASA Chairman Following Bylaws Change

Ron Nagy of Nagy’s Collision Centers in Orville, OH will remain chairman of ASA’s board of directors for 2012-’13 following a reorganization of the association’s structure and governance. Among the changes is one calling for the positions of chairman and chairman-elect to come with two-year terms.

Accordingly, Darrell Amberson of Lehman’s Garage in Bloomington, MN also will maintain his position as chairman-elect for another year. And, Jerry Burns of Automotive Impressions in Rio Rancho, NM will remain immediate past chairman for one more year.

Roy Schnepper of Butler’s Collision in Roseville, MI has been elected secretary/treasurer. This position is a one-year term with the possibility of serving a second consecutive one-year term. All other elected officers going forward will serve two-year terms under the new bylaws.

Serving as general directors are Gary Keyes of E&M Motors in Stuart, FL; Donny Seyfer of Seyfer Automotive in Wheat Ridge, CO; and Bob Wills of Wills Auto Service in Battle Creek, MI. Serving as affiliate directors are Joel Baxter of B&B Auto and Truck Repair in Bremerton, WA, and Mark Gurnsey of Accountable Auto Care in Broomfield, CO.

The final two board positions are held by ASA’s Collision Division and Mechanical Division directors: Dan Stander of Fix Auto Highlands Ranch in Littleton, CO and Bill Moss of Ferris EuroService Automotive in Warrenton, VA, respectively.

Ron Pyle, ASA president and chief staff executive, also serves on the board of directors in an ex-officio capacity.

 

ATMC Accepting Excellence In Training Award Applications

Applications are being accepted for the Automotive Training Managers Council’s (ATMC) National Excellence in Training Awards, which are open to any person or entity providing training in the industry. Entries will be judged on such criteria as learning objectives, delivery methods, measurement of effectiveness and program maintenance.

The application process is free to all ATMC members and requires a $150 application fee for non-members. The deadline to apply is Sept. 1. Awards will be presented during Industry Week in Las Vegas. For more information or to apply, click here or call (703) 669-6670.

 

Official Housing Block Open For Automotive Service & Repair Week

Housing is open for attendees and exhibitors planning to participate in Automotive Service & Repair Week (ASRW). Comprised of the CARS and NACE shows, ASRW is scheduled for Oct. 10-13 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

Housing reservations can be made through ASRW Housing/Travel Planners, which is the official housing provider for ASRW. Show Management has contracted with a variety of New Orleans hotels to provide discounted rooms in close proximity to the convention center and other points of interest.

Attendees and exhibitors can review the hotels within the official housing block and reserve rooms online at www.ASRWevents.com or www.tphousing.com/asrw/ or by calling (800) 221-3531.

 

Collision Repair & Refinish Section Will Return To The SEMA Show

Event organizers are reporting that the collision repair and refinish section, which is returning to the SEMA Show after debuting at last year’s show, is on pace to surpass last year’s numbers. The section provides buyers with a dedicated area on the show floor where they can meet with refinish companies, paint booth manufacturers, parts suppliers and manufacturers, estimating and management software companies, and manufacturers of structural repair and welding equipment, safety equipment and other related products.

The 2012 SEMA Show will take place Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Las Vegas. For more information or to register for the event, visit www.semashow.com.

 

Safelite Rolls Out Smartphone Apps, Windshield Recycling Program

Safelite AutoGlass (Columbus, OH) has launched apps for iPhone and Android smartphones that provide customers with a way to assess damage — chipped windshield, cracked windshield, broken side window and broken rear window — as well as schedule an appointment.

In related news, Safelite has begun the national roll-out of a windshield recycling program. The program started in markets near its recycling plant partner in 2011. Implementation on the East Coast is nearly complete. It will then expand to the West Coast.

 

Texas-Based Service King Collision Repair Centers Expanding Into Arizona

Service King Collision Repair Centers are coming to Arizona. Richardson, TX-based Service King, which operates 48 locations across Texas, is acquiring Auto Body World, which has eight locations in metro Phoenix and Casa Grande. The transaction is expected to close in July.

Symphony Advisors LLC acted as advisors to Auto Body World, while BB&T Capital Markets represented Service King.

 

VW Selects OEConnection To Promote Nationwide Collision Programs

Volkswagen of America has selected OEConnection LLC (Richfield, OH) to support its collision programs. Under the agreement, dedicated resources from OEConnection will conduct field visits to thousands of collision repair facilities and hundreds of Volkswagen dealers throughout the United States to promote the VW Genuine Advantage Parts Program. OEConnection field consultants will train VW dealers and their wholesale bodyshop accounts on CollisionLink.

The online parts ordering and fulfillment system from OEConnection was selected by Volkswagen of America in 2010 to automate its discount parts program and help VW dealers compete with aftermarket parts suppliers.

 

Infiniti Launches National Certified Collision Repair Network

Infiniti has launched a new nationwide certified collision repair network, open to Infiniti retailer-owned and independent collision shops. The purpose of the certification program is to provide the resources to help ensure consistency in the repair of Infiniti vehicles on a national basis. It is being conducted in conjunction with DuPont Performance Coatings, which assists in the implementation of the program’s certification process, and the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR), which conducts technician training.

 

Comerica: Auto Affordability Down Slightly In Q1

The purchase and financing of an average-priced new vehicle took 23.2 weeks of median family income in the first quarter of 2012. Consumers on average spent $300 more, an increase of 1.2 percent, on new cars in the 2012 first quarter compared with the fourth quarter of 2011.

Robert Dye, chief economist of Comerica Bank in Dallas, explained that auto affordability was down slightly in the first quarter, but remains very high by historical standards, contributing to the upward trend in auto sales visible from mid-2011 through early 2012.

“Job creation has supported slow-to-moderate income growth, while car prices have increased moderately and interest rates have remained low. Households have paid down debt, and that has created space in household budgets, allowing many families to take advantage of the current high affordability of new cars. Easing gasoline prices through the current second quarter will also help auto sales,” Dye said. “These favorable trends are helping consumers to feel more confident about unleashing their pent-up demand for automobiles.”

 

News Briefs 05/23/12

Cottman Transmission & Total Auto Care has renewed its agreement with Yodle for online marketing.

• The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) has designated Mitchell 1’s SocialCRM customer retention and new customer acquisition service as the association’s preferred choice for loyalty marketing programs.

Epicor Software Corp. has released a new version of the web-based Integrated Service Estimator (ISE). Among the new features is “All Lines,” which allows shops to search the full Epicor PartExpert database of more than 7,500 manufacturer product lines.

Webasto Product North America (Fenton, MI) has launched a sunroof compatibility guide for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The mobile app allows users to select the year, make and model of a vehicle in order to determine which Webasto sunroofs are compatible.

• A bill has been introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives to ban wheel weights containing lead or mercury. To date, no votes have been taken on this proposed legislation.

• Cleveland-based Dealer Tire has selected KSS Retail as its provider for price modeling and optimization.

• The Tire Industry Association (TIA) now offers all of its 200-level “basic” and 250-level “advanced” training programs in a web-based format at the TIA On-Line University. More information can be found at www.tireindustry.org/training.asp.

• Technical training videos from Wells Vehicle Electronics have exceeded 2 million views on YouTube. Each video can be accessed by entering the title in the search bar on YouTube.com or through the “Wells Tech” link on www.wellsVE.com.

HDA Truck Pride named Bauer Truck Repair of Shippenville, PA as its 2011 Truck Service Expert of the Year.  Bauer Truck Repair has been an HDA Truck Pride Truck Service Expert since 2007.

Alldata LLC (Elk Grove, CA) has entered into an agreement with Carstar Franchise Systems, calling for the more than 400 auto body repair facilities operating under Carstar in North America to use Alldata Collision S3500 as their preferred provider of OE collision repair information.

ABRA Auto Body & Glass, a Minnesota-based damaged vehicle repair company, has acquired Bradshaw Collision Repair Centers in the Nashville area. The deal increases the total number of ABRA repair centers nationwide to 122 in 12 states.

Forward Lift has renewed its sponsorship of “Off-Road Overhaul” for the show’s second season on the Outdoor Channel.

GlyEco Inc. has reached a deal to acquire certain assets of MMT Technologies, a glycol recycler based in the Tampa area. The transaction is scheduled to close May 31. MMT recycles waste anti-freeze from the automotive services industry. The business has more than 1,000 customers, including car dealerships, quick lube facilities and independent repair shops.

 

People Watching 05/23/12

Thomas McKernan has retired as the CEO of the Automobile Club of Southern California after serving 46 years with the organization and 21 years as chief executive. He was succeeded by Bob Bouttier, who was president and chief operating officer. The Automobile Club of Southern California is the largest member of the AAA federation of motor clubs. Among the services it provides are roadside assistance, automotive testing and analysis, and highway and transportation safety programs.

The Insignia Group (Rock Hill, SC), an automotive accessories sales program and training specialist, has hired Andrew McClure as its sales manager for the Midwest region. He is a former after-sales training facilitator with Chrysler Academy and a one-time OEM sales manager for Katzkin Leather Interiors.

Volkswagen of America (Herndon, VA) has appointed David Durant as its Northeast region director, responsible for managing sales and after-sales operations, strengthening local dealer relations, and promoting the brand on a regional level. Durant was director of VW brand after-sales.

 

Event & Trade Show Briefs 05/23/12

• Event organizers say more than 100 professionals from 40-plus companies attended ToolTech 2012, which was held last month in Palm Springs, CA.

• The sixth annual Brake Safety Awareness Week, sponsored by the Motorist Assurance Program (MAP), will be held Aug. 18-26. During the week, more than 9,000 MAP participating facilities are expected to offer inspections and educate customers about key undercar systems.