With $13 Million In New Funding, RepairPal To Feature More Dealerships
San Francisco-based RepairPal, an online source for information on auto repair and maintenance, has landed a $13-million round of funding led by Cars.com and Castrol InnoVentures. RepairPal says this investment will allow it to add more product enhancements and additional “Top Shops” to its network.
RepairPal’s Top Shop program launched last year. It was initially available only to independent repair shops. However, RepairPal had always planned to expand Top Shop to car dealers as well. So, it should come as no surprise that this new funding will mean an even greater dealership presence on RepairPal.
According to a statement from Cars.com, the investment positions it to further develop the service category with items for consumers seeking help and advice when it comes to maintaining their vehicles, and for dealerships looking to boost their service business. Cars.com says in its statement that it intends to develop new offerings to help its local dealer partners reach vehicle owners in need of service and repair and to “more effectively compete for their business.”
“We already see a high level of interest in service and repair from our visitors. In fact, more than a quarter of dealership reviews on our site are about a service and repair experience,” Mitch Golub, Cars.com president, is quoted as saying in the release. “By providing our large audience access to even more credible information about service and repair providers, we can help drive additional value to our advertisers’ business, driving results for their fixed operations, in addition to new and used car sales.”
Cars.com is a site for consumers seeking information on what to buy, where to buy and how much to pay for a car. It has had a business relationship with RepairPal since 2009. Up until recently, RepairPal has only been a featured content partner on Cars.com, giving visitors to the car buying site access to auto repair and maintenance estimates, advice for common problems from expert technicians and more.
Castrol InnoVentures is a new investment arm for the motor oil and lubricant giant, Castrol. Roy Williamson, managing director of Castrol InnoVentures, said the firm is looking for leaders in the automotive industry that will help it achieve its goal of moving the Castrol brand beyond oils and lubricants and into the technology world. “RepairPal, with its online and mobile tools for consumers and its transformative Top Shop network of trusted repair shops, is in the sweet spot of helping improve the auto repair experience for customers,” Williamson explained. “We see this as a global opportunity.”
“Cars.com and Castrol are two names that almost every car owner knows and trusts,” said RepairPal CEO Art Shaw. “Having two leaders in the industry fund the growth of our network of auto repair shops is a tremendous validation of the role RepairPal will play in the lifecycle of car ownership and maintenance. This investment will accelerate our efforts to help customers find and choose the right repair shop for their car needs.”
OEConnection Tool Helps Dealerships Target DIYers
Richfield, OH-based OEConnection has introduced new parts e-commerce technology for automotive dealerships designed to help them engage DIYers and other online, direct-buying consumers. Featuring a customizable, dealer-branded website, ConsumerLink gives consumers access to a replacement parts ordering platform that includes OEM parts catalogs, detailed parts diagrams and VIN-decoding capabilities to help users identify the parts needed for their vehicle repair.
ConsumerLink promises dealers quick and easy integration with their current dealer websites as well as the ability to be implemented as a stand-alone website. And, the technology allows dealers to process orders within their existing OEConnection e-commerce platform. According to the company, OEConnection systems are used by more than 13,000 franchise automotive dealerships across North America.
ConsumerLink includes customizable pricing and promotions tools; multiple delivery and payment options, including all major credit cards; and built-in reporting and analysis tools, providing dealers with data about their online sales and customers.
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Strong Auto Repair Sector Bolsters Snap-on’s Q4 Results
Boosted by a strong automotive repair sector, Snap-on Inc. reported increased net sales and net income for the fourth quarter of 2012. Earnings rose 13.9 percent to $84.60 million, while sales rose 2.3 percent to $753.20 million. Excluding $1.90 million in unfavorable foreign currency translation, organic sales were up 2.5 percent —somewhat less than in prior quarters, largely reflecting weak military sales.
Snap-on’s sales increase came from continued higher business in the Snap-on Tools Group and in the emerging markets of Asia, along with higher sales of diagnostic and repair information products. This more than offset lower sales in the military arena due to the Fiscal Cliff and the potential of sequestration, as well as continued weakness in Europe.
The Snap-on Tools Group saw sales increase 9.8 percent to $321.60 million. Excluding $1.40 million in favorable foreign currency translation, organic sales grew 9.3 percent reflecting high-single-digit sales gains across both the U.S. and international franchise operations.
Nick Pinchuk, Snap-on chairman and CEO, told analysts on a Feb. 7 conference call that enhancing the van channel has been a primary focus for quite some time, and that focus — along with the associated investments Snap-on has made — has driven results.
“Clearly, one of the big advantages is our wholly-owned financial services company, Snap-on Credit. … By working closely with the Tools Group, our financial arm has been instrumental in helping drive the van sales increases we saw throughout 2012,” he said. “We have had a string of gains in big-ticket items, and much of that activity is enabled by Snap-on Credit.”
Beyond the financial results, Pinchuk said there is other evidence of progress. “I often mention the internal metrics we track related to franchisee health. They’ve been on a positive trajectory for some time. That’s more confirmation of a strengthening network,” he said on the call. “And we’ve also seen external validation of our improved position in the network.
“Entrepreneur Magazine recently published a ranking of top franchises, with a focus on financial strength and stability, growth rate, and the size of the system. We’ve moved up, with Snap-on coming in at No. 26 out of the Top 500 franchises. Also in the quarter, Franchise Direct listed Snap-on as No. 11 in its 2012 Top 100 global franchise ranking. And finally, Franchise Business Review, a leading research firm in franchising, ranked us among the Top 100 opportunities for veterans. We like that.
“I’ll just add that, in each of these listings, Snap-on ranks ahead of all tool franchise systems.”
Tools Group operating earnings rose 15.2 percent to $45.60 million. Operating margin improved from 13.5 percent a year ago to 14.2 percent for the fourth quarter of 2012.
Meanwhile, the Snap-on Repair Systems & Information Group saw its operating earnings rise 12.6 percent to $55.40 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Operating margin grew from 20.8 percent to 22.9 percent. Sales increased 2.2 percent to $241.60 million.
Excluding $1.60 million in unfavorable foreign currency translation, organic sales were up 2.9 percent. This was primarily because of low-single-digit gains in sales of diagnostic and repair information products to repair shop owners and managers, as well as sales to OEM dealerships.
Pinchuk told analysts on the call that the general weakness in Western Europe continues to have an impact on the Repair Systems & Information Group because it has a significant undercar equipment business in that region. “But importantly, we saw more progress with strong gains for our undercar equipment lineup in the emerging Eastern European and Brazilian markets,” he said. “We continued the upward trend in selling repair information and diagnostics products to independent shop owners and managers, while, at the same time, our activity in the businesses that primarily serve OEM dealerships posted increases in essential diagnostics and tools programs. For RS&I, all of these widespread positives more than offset the challenges of Europe and undercar equipment.” — Marc Vincent
Man Sentenced For Trafficking In Counterfeit GM Diagnostic Equipment
Justin DeMatteo, 31, of Saxe, VA has been sentenced in federal court to serve one year and one day in prison for selling counterfeit GM automotive diagnostic devices. He pleaded guilty back in September to one count of trafficking in goods bearing counterfeit marks. In addition to his prison term, DeMatteo was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $328,500 in restitution, which is believed to be the full amount of GM’s losses.
At DeMatteo’s plea proceeding, the court entered a consent order of forfeiture requiring him to forfeit $109,074 in criminal proceeds and all facilitating property and contraband seized during the execution of search warrants at his business and home in December 2011.
In court documents, DeMatteo admitted that he sold counterfeit GM-branded “Tech 2” and Controller Area Network diagnostic interface “CANdi” vehicle diagnostic systems between January 2011 and May 2011.
DeMatteo sold the counterfeit units on eBay and accepted payment via PayPal, according to court records. He purchased the units from unauthorized manufacturers in China and, in many cases, had them drop-shipped directly from China to U.S. customers.
Auto Repair Estimate Site Launches To Serve D.C. Metro Area
A new website for auto repair estimates, RepairJungle.com, launched in the Washington, DC metro area in January. Co-founder Fred Yu said results will determine whether the concept spreads to other states.
“We felt D.C. was a great test market,” Yu said. “There are lots of drivers, obviously, and Internet-savvy consumers.”
Once at the site, a user inputs their vehicle type and the work needed. Participating shops can submit bids. If a consumer accepts a bid, the appointment and payment are both made through the site. Shops pay a fee if a service is booked. The service is free for users, who can rate their experience once the job is completed.
Inspired by services such as restaurant reservation site OpenTable.com, which makes life easier for businesses and consumers, Yu and his partners began working on the concept last year. “After talking with family and friends and owners of auto repair facilities, we felt that automotive services were an underserved area,” he said.
A team of six, including consultants with auto repair experience, developed the site and created a target list of shops in the District of Columbia and surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia.
Thus far, the company has focused on independent shops and smaller regional chains. No special hardware or software is required, Yu said. “A lot of time, people with marketing tools require big upfront investments to use their services, for uncertain returns,” Yu said. “With us, all you need is an Internet connection.”
Yu declined to disclose the referral fee structure or the number of signed shops so far. — Sarah Hollander
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TBC’s Orland Wolford Has Retired
Orland Wolford, vice chairman of TBC Corp. and president and CEO of the company’s retail group, retired at the end of February after a dozen years with the Florida-based company. Larry Day, TBC’s chairman, president and CEO, has taken over management of TBC’s franchise group, which includes Big O Tires, Midas, SpeeDee Oil Change & Tune-Up and R.O. Writer.
Wolford’s retail expertise and his hands-on, people-first leadership style were integral to TBC’s success, Day said in a statement. “Notably, Orland has led the growth of TBC’s retail division most recently with the acquisition and relocation of Midas International (in 2012),” he said.
Wolford joined the company in 2000 as president and CEO of the Tire Kingdom group of retail stores. He joined TBC’s board of directors in 2007, became president and CEO of the TBC Retail Group in 2008, and was promoted to vice chairman of the corporation last April.
Under Wolford’s leadership, the company grew from 148 Tire Kingdom stores in Florida to more than 2,700 franchised and company-operated tire and automotive service centers throughout the United States and Canada.
“The last 12 years have been the most rewarding part of my entire career,” Wolford said in a statement. “I will certainly miss the many fine people who I have worked with over the years. I am proud to have been associated with TBC and wish it continued success.”
Prior to joining TBC, Wolford held senior management positions at various automotive companies, including Firestone. — Sarah Hollander
Plaza Tire Adds Five Ewers Tire & Service Shops
Plaza Tire Service (Cape Girardeau, MO) has acquired five Ewers Tire & Service locations in Mid-Missouri. Plaza Tire already has a presence in the region with three existing stores. This move increases its store count to 56 locations — 40 of which are in Missouri. Eight additional shops are in southern Illinois, while five are in Kentucky. The remaining three stores are in northeast Arkansas.
Northwest Tire Adds Mighty Auto Parts Wholesale Division
Bismarck, ND-based Northwest Tire — billed as the largest tire dealer in North Dakota and one of the largest in the Upper Midwest — is now a Mighty Auto Parts franchisee. It is the 23rd multi-location tire dealer to establish a Mighty division to sell preventive maintenance products wholesale alongside their core business.
Northwest Tire operates 12 retail stores, two Bandag retread plants and five wholesale locations, serving eight states.
Just Brakes Selects Demandforce
Just Brakes, a total car care service provider specializing in brake service, has selected Demandforce Inc. to provide marketing and communications technology for its 135 locations across North America.
Demandforce provides Just Brakes with a variety of tools to market and communicate with its customers, including customer satisfaction surveys, online scheduling, and email and text messaging tools. The technology also helps Just Brakes with social media outreach and online reputation tracking on sites such as Google, Facebook and CitySearch.
Express Oil Change Buys Tire Engineers
Express Oil Change & Service Centers has acquired Tire Engineers Car Care Centers. Both companies are based in Birmingham, AL. Tire Engineers has seven locations — all in Alabama. Express Oil Change has roughly 200 locations across the Southeast, from Texas to North Carolina and from Virginia to Oklahoma.
Express is owned, in part, by Carousel Capital, a private investment firm. Earlier this year, Carousel launched a new platform called Southeastern Automotive Aftermarket Service Holdings, which is focused on the automotive aftermarket service industry in the southeastern United States and adjacent markets. Express was the platform’s initial acquisition.
“The Express service model and successful history of operating significant numbers of company-owned locations provide numerous options for organic and acquisition-related growth as the automotive aftermarket service industry continues to consolidate,” said Jason Schmidly, managing partner of Carousel Capital.
Richard Brooks, chairman and CEO of Express, said back in January when Southeastern Automotive Aftermarket Service Holdings was formed: “We have had a long relationship with the people at Carousel Capital, and our entire Express family looks forward to aggressively growing the company through our partnership. We have never been as excited about the organic growth plan before us and the opportunity to selectively pursue greater density in the region through acquisitions to ensure we are able to meet every customer need for a well-maintained vehicle.”
This brings us back to Tire Engineers. According to AL.com and The Birmingham News, the company’s management will remain in place and the Tire Engineers brand will not be changed.
Universal Lubricants Expands In Dallas
Universal Lubricants has announced the opening of a new 52,000-square-foot oil warehouse and distribution center in Dallas. Wichita, KS-based Universal has been offering lubricants for a wide range of engines and equipment to customers in the Dallas area for more than 20 years. This new facility will allow the company to serve as the delivery agent for Valvoline in this market.
Universal already distributes Valvoline lubricants and chemicals in Kansas City and Wichita.
The new Dallas facility is one of nine Universal locations in Texas and the fourth distribution center the company has opened or expanded in the past year. Universal operates a network of 36 locations throughout the United States.
Pennsylvania Senate Considers Reducing Vehicle Emissions Inspections
Legislation has been introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate (SB 332), seeking to reduce the number of vehicle emissions inspections. Among the provisions in the bill, which has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation, is that newest model year vehicles would be exempt from the requirements for emissions inspections for 10 years from the date of original registration. Additionally, alternative fuel vehicles would be exempt from the requirements for emissions inspections.
The proposed legislation also requires that these newest-10-model-year and alternative fuel vehicles be subject to visual anti-tampering inspections for the presence of emissions control components installed on the vehicle by manufacturers.
ASA and AAIA oppose the bill, and ask members in Pennsylvania to send letters to their state legislators stating their opposition.
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New Names, New Outreach For Two ASA Affiliates
The Automotive Service Association (ASA) board of directors has approved name changes for two of its affiliated associations: ASA-Washington and ASA-Missouri/Kansas.
ASA-Washington has changed its name to ASA-Northwest. The affiliate had already established a few chapters in Oregon to provide additional support and services, and will now reach out to Idaho.
ASA- Missouri/Kansas has changed its name to ASA-Midwest, allowing ASA members in Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma to voluntarily join the affiliate. Like the Washington group, some chapters are already established in the surrounding states.
ASA says that any existing and prospective ASA members in the surrounding areas – Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oregon – may now voluntarily expand their national level of membership to include affiliate membership if they wish to do so. Additional affiliate dues apply and vary based on location or affiliate structure.
“Over the past year, ASA has significantly streamlined the governance and organizational structure of the association to become more relevant and responsive to its membership,” explained Ron Pyle, ASA president and chief staff executive. “The association’s affiliate organizations that are capable of providing added value to ASA members in adjacent markets will be afforded the opportunity to introduce themselves to a broader audience.”
ASA Annual Business Meeting Slated For April 19-20
ASA will hold its next annual business meeting April 19-20 at the Hurst Convention Center in Hurst, TX, which is in the Dallas/Forth Worth Metroplex. The agenda will include an open meeting of the ASA board of directors on Saturday, April 20. Ron Pyle, ASA president and chief staff executive, will deliver a state-of-the-association address during the Saturday luncheon. And a new chairman — along with other board members — will be sworn in. An open membership forum also will be on the agenda.
All ASA members are invited to attend the open meeting on Saturday, which will be held from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and includes lunch. The official registration form for the April 20 events, and information about hotel options, will be available on the ASA website.
Housing and transportation arrangements are the responsibility of the attendee.
ESI Adds Online Customer Service Group Training
The Educational Seminars Institute (ESI) has added online Customer Service Group training for service advisors, service writers and other front-line staff who interact with customers. The hour-long Customer Service Group meetings include a presentation on a customer service skill to improve the customer’s experience when calling or visiting an auto repair business. Each meeting concludes with a facilitated peer-to-peer open discussion.
Customer Service Group training is offered twice monthly, and participation is limited to six people per group. To reserve a space or for more information, call (888) 338-7296 or email email@example.com.
New Recycled Parts Inventory For CCC One Estimating
CCC Information Services Inc. and the United Recyclers Group (URG) have implemented a parts listing service within CCC One Estimating that uses parts data gathered by URG, which works with more than 400 auto recyclers. The new parts listing service provides CCC One Estimating customers with direct access to a recycled parts inventory, and creates opportunities for any auto recycler to present its parts and pricing to CCC customers. Auto recyclers do not need to be a member of URG to gain access to the parts listing service.
Experian Analyzes Impact Of Gas Prices On Vehicle Sales
Research from Experian Automotive shows that there was a direct correlation between fluctuations in gas prices and changes in market share for different types of vehicle sales. Not surprisingly, the analysis showed the biggest market share gainer to be the small-car economy segment. However, more interesting is how much this segment is affected.
In the five-year study, the small-car economy segment rose 0.7 percent for every dollar increase in fuel price. This means that if gas prices increased by $1 in an average month with 1 million unit sales the small-car economy segment volume would increase by 7,000 units. Conversely, the same price increase would cause the full-size pickup truck segment to lose 0.5 percent market share.
With roughly 18,000 new vehicle dealers in the United States, these findings show that, on average, a $1 spike in a gallon of fuel means every dealer in the nation could see one more small-car economy vehicle sale approximately every three months.
Another surprising trend was the impact on hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles. Sales of hybrid trucks actually fell 0.1 percentage points. Hybrid cars went up by just 0.2 percentage points, and electric vehicle sales were up only 0.1 percentage points. While these vehicles are still likely to be solutions to long-term transportation challenges, there is low market demand currently, even when gas prices increase significantly.
“While higher fuel prices tend to get people talking, actual consumer behavior is affected primarily at the vehicle segment level. What this means for dealers is not necessarily a change in the number of vehicles sold, but rather a shift in which vehicles people are buying,” said Erik Hjermstad, lead analytic consultant for Experian Automotive. “Smaller cars definitely pick up market share, and full-size pickup trucks and SUVs definitely see a downturn. But, the magnitude of these shifts is also a function of how quickly gas prices increase or decrease.”
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AutoNation Believes 2012 Was The Trough For Service, Parts, Collision Unit
AutoNation Inc.’s Customer Care business — its service, parts and collision operations — saw revenue grow 4.7 percent to $600 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Segment gross profit increased 5.9 percent to $252.50 million. As a percent of revenue, Customer Care gross profit improved 50 basis points to 42.1 percent over the final three months of 2012. That’s the business’ best performance in many years, according to management.
President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Maroone told analysts on a Jan. 31 conference call that strong contributors were internal warranty work, driven by increased vehicle sales, and customer-pay gross, which increased for the tenth consecutive quarter. “We’re very pleased with the momentum of our Customer Care business and believe we’re well-positioned to capitalize as the units in operation base begins to grow again this year,” Maroone said on the call.
The management of AutoNation has high hopes for the years ahead when it comes to its Customer Care unit. Here’s why. Vehicle sales collapsed in 2008, 2009 and 2010. AutoNation’s service base is vehicles from brand-new through five or six years old. With sales recovering in 2010, 2011 and 2012, the units in operation now begin a recovery for Customer Care that management thinks will last for years.
Group 1’s Parts & Service Gross Profit Rose 8.6% In Q4
Group 1 Automotive reported solid fourth-quarter results for its parts and service business. Gross profit increased 8.6 percent to $115.19 million as revenue grew 8.3 percent to $221.67 million. Same-store parts and service revenue increased 4.3 percent to $210.57 million.
The overall revenue increase breaks down as growth of 11.7 percent in warranty work, 7.7 percent in collision, 5.7 percent in parts wholesale and 0.1 percent in customer-pay. It should be noted that manufacturer free maintenance programs, such as Toyota Care, have shifted what once was classified as customer-pay revenue over to the warranty segment, partially explaining the relative underperformance of customer-pay.
Asbury’s Parts & Service Revenue Rose 2.9% In Q4
The Asbury Automotive Group saw its parts and service gross profit climb 6.3 percent to $82.20 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 as segment revenue increased 2.9 percent to $141.40 million. Same-store parts and service revenue increased 2.3 percent to $140.60 million.
Parts and service gross margin rose 190 basis points to 58.2 percent. The year-over-year gross profit improvement was driven primarily by an 11-percent increase in reconditioning work, as well as a 5-percent rise in customer-pay. Wholesale parts gross profit fell 2 percent over the final three months of 2012.
Looking ahead, management believes that Asbury’s parts and service business will see its revenue increase in the mid-single-digit range, while maintaining current margins.
Lithia Motors’ Wholesale Parts Sales Rose 6% In Q4
Lithia Motors’ service, body and parts revenue climbed 9.3 percent to $89.67 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Segment same-store sales increased 8.1 percent to $87.09 million, as warranty had a strong performance for the quarter, growing 11 percent. Wholesale parts revenue was up 6 percent, while body shop was up 14 percent. Customer-pay work increased 7 percent, which made for the 14th consecutive quarter of same-store sales improvement.
Service, body and parts gross margin increased 140 basis points to 48.2 percent over the final three months of 2012. Management’s guidance calls for the unit to come through with gross margin of between 48 percent and 48.2 percent in 2013. Service, body and parts same-store sales are expected to increase 5 percent this year.
Record Q4 Parts/Service/Collision Gross Profit For Sonic Automotive
Sonic Automotive’s parts, service and collision unit saw its revenue increase 3 percent to $287.11 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Segment gross profit increased $3.70 million, or 2.7 percent, to $140.90 million, which was a fourth-quarter record. Parts, service and collision gross profit margin was unchanged at 49.1 percent.
Customer-pay revenue was up 1.6 percent, while customer-pay gross was up 1 percent.
Penske’s Customer-Pay Revenue Grew Nearly 7% In Q4
The Penske Automotive Group saw its service and parts revenue grow 9.2 percent to $363.53 million in fourth quarter of 2012. Same-store service and parts revenue increased 3.2 percent to $341.37 million. Customer-pay revenue was up nearly 7 percent in the quarter. Service and parts gross margin improved 110 basis points to 58.8 percent over the final three months of 2012.
ASA Adding Collision Industry Vet Dan Risley
ASA has hired industry veteran Dan Risley as executive vice president. In this role, Risley will work with Ron Pyle, ASA president and chief staff executive, as well as the national staff based in Colleyville, TX, while maintaining an office in Chicago.
Risley comes to ASA from the Allstate Insurance Co., where he has been a market claims manager. Risley also is a former executive director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS). He will officially begin his new role as executive vice president when he visits ASA headquarters March 18.
MACS 2013 Board Of Directors, Officers Installed
The board of directors of the Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide has elected the following officers for the 2013 board term:
• Chairman: Andy Fiffick of Rad-Air Complete Car Care in Cleveland;
• Past Chairman: Michael Deese of Santech Industries in Dallas;
• Vice Chairman: Gus Swensen of Cool Car Auto Air in Columbus, GA;
• Treasurer: Peter Coll of Neutronics in Exton, PA; and
• Secretary: David Jack Of Denso Sales in Long Beach, CA.
The MACS board has 13 members — four each from the service and repair, distribution, and manufacturing divisions, plus the past chairman. Six members are elected annually to two-year terms.
• Elected to two-year terms from the service membership for 2013 were Gus Swensen of Cool Car Auto Air in Columbus, GA and R.C. Shirmer of Glen-Ray Rad Inc. of Wausau, WI.
• Elected to two-year terms from the distribution membership were William Perez of Auto Air Parts of Puerto Rico in San Juan, PR and Steve Sunday of Sunair in Ft. Worth, TX.
• Elected to two-year terms from the manufacturer membership were Peter Coll of Neutronics and Grace Davis of Omega Environmental Technologies in Dallas.
Carstar Promotes Two Field Service Managers To Leadership
Carstar Auto Body Repair Experts (Overland Park, KS) has promoted Rick Miller to assistant vice president of field services and operations and Melissa Miller to director of field services and operations. Rick Miller, who joined Carstar in 2007 as a regional service manager, most recently was director of field services and operations. Melissa Miller (no relation) joined Carstar in 2004 and was senior regional service manager prior to her latest promotion.
People Watching 3/6/13
• Stertil-Koni (Stevensenville, MD) has hired Brian Myles as its eastern regional sales manager. Myles has spent the last 18 years as a manufacturer’s representative with McIndoo Associates, an automotive and petroleum equipment rep firm.
• MACS Worldwide has named veteran automotive journalist Jacques Gordon as the managing editor of its MACS Action magazine. Gordon is the former editor of Professional Tool & Equipment News and a former technical editor for Motor Age.
• Autodata Publications, an international supplier of technical information for the automotive aftermarket, has appointed Sharon Kellogg as its new U.S. managing director. Kellogg was senior director of segment marketing at Thomson Reuters, a global provider of information to businesses and professionals.
• The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has hired Donna Sage as its director of marketing and communications. Her responsibilities include handling public relations, managing TIA’s online presence and developing marketing material.
• Scott Robertson has rejoined Carstar Auto Body Repair Experts as vice president of development. Robertson led the network’s business development program from 1993-‘98. He most recently was president of a Kansas City-based event management company.
• Mr. Lube CEO Stuart Suls appeared on a recent episode of Undercover Boss Canada. The show follows executives from top Canadian companies as they go incognito among their employees to get a better idea of how things really work and how those employees really feel about their jobs and their employer.
News Briefs 3/6/13
• A bill has been introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives to repeal the state’s annual motor vehicle safety inspection program. MEMA and AASA have come out in opposition to the proposed legislation.
• Uni-Select Inc. is rolling out retail digital signage from ScreenScape Networks (Charlottetown, PE) that will connect the company’s network of Canadian installers and wholesalers.
• KOI Auto Parts of Cincinnati has named Rotary Lift as its Equipment Vendor of the Year for 2012. KOI is a Federated Auto Parts member serving repair shops, collision centers, dealerships and retail auto parts customers in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia. It has a network of 82 stores.
• St. Lucie Battery & Tire, a family owned and operated auto service and tire retail chain in Florida, has grown to 10 locations with the addition of a new shop in the east Florida community of Jensen Beach.
• Maaco has named Pitch Inc. as its advertising agency of record. Culver City, CA-based firm will handle a $20-million campaign with national and local programs.
• Carstar Auto Body Repair Experts has opened its first location in Oklahoma, Jeremiah’s Carstar Collision & Painting in Oklahoma City.
• The PBEPRO website now features PlastiKote product information, data sheets, color guide and MSDS sheets. In the future, PlastiKote instructional videos also will be available for viewing at www.pbepro.com.
• Mitchell 1’s Manager SE shop management system is now integrated with its ProDemand repair, diagnostic and maintenance information program. And, the new version of Manager SE is supported on the new Windows 8 operating system.
• BG Products has introduced an automotive service advisor training website, www.bgcertified.com.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 3/6/13
• April is National Car Care Month. The Car Care Council asks shops, stores and other industry organizations planning community car care events to register their upcoming events at http://www.carcare.org/industry-participants/host-an-event/. Events registered on the council’s website will be promoted through its various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
• According to event organizers, more than 1,250 professionals attended the MACS 2013 Training Event & Trade Show, which was held Feb. 6-9 in Orlando, FL. The related one-day tradeshow featured 92 exhibitors in 136 booths.