Auto Service World
Feature   December 1, 2004   by Auto Service World

Changes Aplenty in 2004

Year in Review

There is little doubt that 2004 was filled with enough activity and intrigue to give James Bond a run for his money.

High on the list of corporate action heroes has to be the team at Dana, who announced in late December 2003 that they intended to sell their aftermarket group, then endured nearly a full year before the new owner and the new name, Affinia, could be officially declared just this past November.

It is also fitting that this group, under The Cypress Group owners, will be run by some familiar names. Larry McCurdy and Joe Onorato, fomer CEO and CFO of Echlin Inc., which was merged with Dana into the aftermarket group some years ago, will serve as directors of the new investment.

That may have been the largest of the deals this year, but it was certainly not the only one.

Here is a month-by-month accounting of some of the year’s more prominent news items.


Dana Corporation announced its intention to divest its aftermarket group.

Toronto jobber British Auto Supply celebrated 100 years of business.

Ontario would have the toughest emission limits in North America for large diesel trucks and buses when new standards were to take effect in April.

Canadian-owned Canamotive Remanufacturing announced that it is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

SMK Speedy International Inc. entered into an agreement with Minute Muffler & Brake that would see Minute acquire the shares of SMK for approximately $83 million.

Tenneco Automotive entered into a licensing agreement with DuPont to develop, manufacture and market car care products.


Standard Motor Products Inc. finalized its acquisition of Dana Corp.’s Canadian engine management business.

Honeywell terminated discussions with Federal-Mogul regarding the possible sale of its Bendix friction materials business.

Universal Automotive acquired the Autospecialty, ValuMaxx and Power Stop brands from Kelsey-Hayes.

Wal-Mart and Auto Parts Counter announced plans to expand the DIY auto parts concept across the country.

Carquest announced that D&T Auto Parts Limited of Leamington, Ont., had joined the distribution group.

Aftermarket charity Shad’s R&R raised some $10,000 through its prize raffle.


The Jobber News 2004 Partners In Training Tour received positive reviews from attendees.

Base Automotive Warehousing members signed up Fastlane Auto Parts of Hamilton, Ont., and Wolfedale Auto Parts, Mississauga, Ont., under the Auto Value banner.

Futur Cylinder Head LR Inc. appointed Grand Prix Automotive Distribution Inc. of Calgary, Alta., as its fee warehouse.


Reports surfaced that the Ontario Drive Clean program might be phased out over the next few years. The reports turned out to be an exaggeration of a regular review process.

Montreal-based Auto-Kool, master distributors of radiator and air conditioning components, announced the opening of warehouses in Moncton and Vancouver.

Bestbuy Distributors Limited contributed $20,000 to the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children.

Carquest announced that Dave Johnson of Johnson Auto-motive, Tillsonburg, Ont., had joined the distribution group.

Uni-Select reached an agreement to supply parts to members of the AutoGroup Inc. buying group.


Dana Corp. marked its 100th birthday in April. The company was founded in 1904 by Clarence Spicer, inventor of the encased universal joint, and expanded in 1914 when financier Charles Dana became involved with the company.

The Automotive Industries Association of Canada published the “Regulatory Environment for Canada’s Automotive Aftermarket Industry – The Key to Better Understanding.”

The new NAPA Vancouver Distribution Centre and Retail Store facility opened in Port Kells, B.C.

NGK Spark Plugs Canada Limited named Corey Jelly as its District Manager of the Year.


Independent jobber Dick Fisher, owner of Fisher Auto Parts & Equipment in Kingston, Ont., was named 2004 “Jobber of the Year.”

Jobber News was recognized for excellence in business writing, garnering two nominations in the Kenneth R. Wilson Awards, one in the Best Editorial category for “The Unwon War” on the topic of freeing access to diagnostic information, and another in the Best Merchandising/Marketing category for “Freezing Out the Competition.”

Corteco acquired Precision Automotive Industries (PAI) of Burnsville, Minn., a supplier of bearings and seals.

Hastings Inc., the Canadian operations of Hastings Mfg. Co., one of the longest-standing entities in the Canadian automotive aftermarket, ceased operations and was placed in the hands of receivers.


While firm details were hard to come by, Dana Corpora-tion was reported to have a potential buyer for its aftermarket business. Reports said the lead bidder for the company’s aftermarket business was the Cypress Group of New York, which eventually did acquire the business.

Shad’s R&R charity fundraiser added another $150,000 to its total contributions, bringing the total amount raised for research into muscular dystrophy to more than $2.8 million.

The Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) awarded 145 scholarships, including 17 to Canadian students.


Dana Corp. announced an agreement to sell its automotive aftermarket business to The Cypress Group.

Bestbuy Distributors Limited announced that Halton Automotive had expanded its operations with the opening of Hamilton Auto Supply Inc. in Hamilton, Ont., increasing its store count to four.

JET Equipment & Tools Ltd. of Burnaby, B.C., announced that it had purchased the hand tool inventory and packaging equipment from Hastings, Inc. of Barrie, Ont.

Radiator supplier Modine Canada, known formally as MCL Heat Transfer Products, filed for bankruptcy.

Warehouse Services Inc. of Edmonton, Alta. successfully held its 3rd annual customer appreciation day, bringing in close to 900 customers.


Ontario’s Liberal government announced initiatives designed to bolster participation in apprenticeship programs.

ArvinMeritor could sell its aftermarket unit, according to a Wall Street analyst’s report.

FAG Bearings celebrated its 50th anniversary of business in Canada, with a ribbon cutting on the same spot as the opening ribbon cutting ceremony 50 years ago.


Docap (1985) Corp., which had been under creditor protection since September 2003, was the subject of a management buyout.

The aftermarket pulled together to help when torrential rains inundated the Ontario town of Peterborough during the summer, and flooded Greg Walsh’s Sidey Auto Supply.

Gates Canada Inc. celebrated its 50th anniversary and opening of its new administrative offices with an open house and reunion in Brantford, Ont.


Saskatchewan Environment announced it was in the final stages of amending its regulations affecting air conditioning service. The new regulations would incorporate the requirements of the National Action Plan for the Environmental Control of Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODS) and their Halocarbon Alternatives.

Randy Dorton, the scheduled keynote speaker at the AERA Expo 2005 engine rebuilder event, was among those killed when a light aircraft carrying 10 Hendrick Motorsports team members and family went down in October, killing all aboard.

ArvinMeritor Inc. announced its intention to divest its Light Vehicle Aftermarket (LVA) business group in 2005.

As part of the reorganization of Total’s Chemi-cals Branch, Atofina Canada Inc. of Oakville, Ont., would now be known as Arkema Canada Inc.


According to statements, there were still only a handful of companies agreeing to AutoZone’s Pay-On-Scan initiative. The initiative is designed to effectively track when products are sold, but also involves inventories being held essentially on consignment, with payment to the supplier only occurring when each part is sold.

SPX further filled out its diagnostic tool offering with the addition of Tempe, Ariz.- based AutoXray.

Attendance at the 2004 International Autobody Congress & Ex-position (NACE
) saw a big rise with its move to Las Vegas this year.

More than 117,000 people attended the Automotive After-market Industry Week (AAIW) exhibitions, shattering record attendance numbers from 2003 by 12,000, according to show organizers.



Gordon E. Davenport, founder of Gord Davenport Automotive Inc., and the 1994 Jobber News Jobber of the Year, died peacefully at home surrounded by his family.

Carl Greenwald, retired owner of Hi-Line Manufacturing Company, passed away after a short illness in Toronto.

Shelton MacArthur, who had been a part of the Canadian automotive aftermarket since 1969, and joined his brother Warren to found Warren’s Auto Parts, passed away in February.

Reuben Fenwick, founder and retired president of Fenwick Automotive Products, passed away in March. He was 79.

Joseph Charish, who founded two jobbing businesses–Warden Automotive in Scarborough, and Queensbury Automotive and Quick Tire in Willowdale, Ont.–died at age 80.

Abe Schwartz, who spent more than 70 years in the automotive aftermarket at British Auto Supply in Toronto, passed away in May. He was the second generation of the Schwartz family to work in the now century-old business.

Albert “A.J.” Blair, who had a long and interesting career in the Canadian automotive aftermarket including the presidency of UAP Inc., passed away in May at the age of 89.

Denis Richards, a longtime member of the automotive aftermarket, passed away October 14, 2004 after a brief battle with cancer. He was 73. Richards spent much of the last few years in the air conditioning field, most recently with Duracool Refrigerants.

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