AutoGroup Inc. and the Independent Mufflershop Dealers Association of Ontario (IMDA) have merged to create AutoGroup IMDA, the largest Independent exhaust specialist organization in Canada, with more than 80 dealers from coast to coast. Focused on supplying the Automotive Service Providers in Canada, primarily with brake, suspension and exhaust parts, Auto Group IMDA will use supply relationships with APD Automotive Parts Distributors in Red Deer, Alta., and IMDA Automotive Warehouse in Stoney Creek, Ont. to supply its members in Western and Eastern Canada respectively. “This is an arrangement we have wanted all along,” says Scott Palmer, director of AutoGroup. “We don’t believe in eliminating the jobber, but we do want to secure good buying power at the shop level so we can keep the service providers as competitive as possible. “We drive a lot of business through the jobber and will continue to do so, but there are some price sensitive items where being able to buy right and sell right can allow the service provider to be healthy. This new organization will allow service providers to reinvest in themselves.” “We have built this strategy from the service provider and back up through the distribution chain,” says Brian Pyett, general manager, IMDA Automotive Warehouse. “This is in keeping with some of the most progressive thinking in the industry found in the pages of leading publications like Service Station & Garage Management and Jobber News Magazine. “At IMDA we have always stressed the needs of the service provider first. We have established first line, quality products and have our suppliers involved with our customers not removed from them. “As a specialty warehouse we have addressed the needs of our customers and involved them in product and program decisions. Hence we deal with the elite service providers in our area, knowing that their success is our success.” “We applaud the development of a service-provider focused organization,” says Kim Schumacher, president, APD Automotive Parts Distributors. The AutoGroup IMDA organization is dedicated to working as partners with service providers to keep them competitive today and into the future with innovative marketing strategies and quality, first-line brands such as Goerlich’s Exhaust Systems, Bendix Friction, and Dorman Brake. The dealers have formed a steering committee with Scott Palmer as director and representatives from each region to work with the warehouses to determine product requirements, advertising plans, and business policies. Further announcements will be made following those discussions.