Over the Counter December 2007
Skills Assessment Tool Launched
The Canadian Automotive Repair and Service Council officially launched its CARS Ability skills assessment service at the AXIS event in Toronto.
CARS Ability is a comprehensive skills assessment tool that provides employers and prospective employers with the ability to understand where skill gaps may exist, and what training is available to address those gaps. The program has been several years in the making.
The AXIS event, organized by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, takes the place of the annual Automotive Aftermarket Forum.
“In 2002 I went to CARS and asked if they could develop an assessment tool for me,” says Phil Myers, manager automotive education, Canadian Tire Corporation. “They did a quick assessment tool for our technicians. They came back in 2003 and it worked very well, but at CARS they never want to do anything halfway.” What resulted was an extensive advisory council process, working with individuals from across the country, that produced the current 100-question assessment questionnaire, which takes about an hour to complete and costs $20 per assessment.
“It is a tool you can use to assess your people,” says Myers. “Every company is different and you can modify this tool to fit your needs. It is just for you. Many of our stores have used the CARS Ability tool to make their own training plans. It has been very well received. It is very important to identify their skill gaps. You can eliminate courses you don’t need to take.
“You can reduce your training bills, and focus on what that person really needs. When they go to the courses they need, they will stay focused on what they need to do.”
CARS’ Jennifer Steeves says that the service evaluates skill gaps, but also provides as complete a list of training as possible. “We are trying to provide as much direction as possible.”
A list of courses that match up to various degrees is also generated, and not just those provided by CARS. “We certainly welcome any organization to post their training course, though there is a process as courses need to be matched up to needs,” says Steeves.
That indexing of courses is an important part of what drives the CARS Ability program. “When you look at other industries, when they hire and train individuals, they are using professionals and professional benchmarking tools,” says Corrie Robley, executive director, Automotive Sector Council of Nova Scotia, and a participant in the creation of the program.
“We didn’t have a functional tool across Canada, nothing specific to assist the automotive service employer. It is really important that we raise the bar in our own industry. We certainly have to raise the profile of our own industry as compared to our competitors in other industries.”
CARS Ability can be accessed at www. carsability.ca.
Alberta Auto Parts Distributor Acquires Locations
Auto Parts Distributors of Red Deer, Alta., has acquired Avenue West Motor Works, with locations in Calgary and Edmonton, and Alta Auto Services of Edmonton.
Currently, the company distributes through warehouses located in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. The Avenue West and Alta Auto locations bring with them the ACDelco product line and the ACDelco Total Service Support (TSS) program. It also brings an expanded inventory, improved parts selection, and a delivery fleet of more than 28 vehicles to the “APD-Avenue West-Alta Auto” conglomerate.
APD-Avenue West-Alta Auto president Kim Schumacher says, “This combination of strategic warehouse locations enhances our capabilities. It provides the opportunity to earn a ‘first call’ status with our service provider customers. Our team is focused on having the right part and being able to get it delivered on time. Executing on this mandate is our purpose. Doing so will meet the market’s need and differentiate us from our competition.”
Mahle Clevite Canada Acquires Engine Parts 1
Mahle Clevite Canada has completed the purchase of Engine Parts 1 Inc.
Engine Parts 1 currently serves the Canadian engine parts market with five warehouses across the country. This transaction enables Mahle Clevite to position itself to better service the needs of the Canadian engine parts market. Additionally, this supports the implementation of the company’s value-added initiatives, allowing them to focus directly on servicing the engine parts aftermarket in concert with their customer base.
Experienced Aftermarket Professional Opens Agency
Long-time Canadian aftermarket sales professional Rinaldo Sardella has opened his own independent sales agency.
Detail Sales Force, as the venture is called, is focused on providing innovative, cost-effective sales and marketing services. It is currently reviewing lines to represent.
Sardella can be reached at (905) 832-4678.
PartSource Ramps up Regional Warehousing
PartSource has opened the first of 22 planned retail distribution hubs that are scheduled to open across Canada within the next 24 to 36 months.
The opening of the $1.4-million concept store will offer Mississauga and surrounding businesses a variety of automotive options including an expanded retail capacity, but also locally specific and regionally targeted warehousing abilities.
“The company is going through a major change project, investing in all levels of the supply chain,” says PartSource president Bruce Allen. “That means investment in our three regional warehouses, but also significant investment at the individual store level as well as in these new regional hub stores.”
According to Allen, the hubs will work as part of an integrated supply network that will provide the hub’s warehousing space with locally specific and targeted parts. “Each hub will be able to warehouse regionally catered products to best serve that market,” he says. “We’ll be able to conduct some regionally based analytics through our new software systems, as well as though Internet tools provided to our commercial customers, that will allow us to provide them with a greater level of service.”
The most significant attribute of this new focus on local responsiveness will allow the company to establish midday part deliveries within the areas covered by these hubs. “Most commercial players in the market have a measure of overnight replenishment from a warehouse,” says Allen. “These changes will give us the ability to forward-deploy parts to those hubs, which can then in turn provide their commercial customers with planned, routed daytime delivery to supplement their overnight service.”
Affinia Acquires Brake Pro Assets
Affinia Group Inc. has acquired certain assets of Brake Pro, Ltd.
The acquisition took place under the Companies’ Creditors Agreement Act of Canada. Among other items, the purchase includes manufacturing equipment, friction formulations, and unrestricted rights to the brand name. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Affinia is in the process of relocating the physical assets to its own North American manufacturing facilities, and will resume production of the Brake Pro product line.
“The Brake Pro line will enhance our existing brake block and medium-duty product offerings. More importantly, it will put us back into the heavy duty segment, and the Brake Pro line will give us a great product offering for severe duty applications such as waste handling equipment, logging equipment, construction vehicles, and transit applications,” says John R. Washbish, president of Affinia’s Under Vehicle Group.
Waterborne Extension Looming?
An Environment Canada spokesperson has indicated that the low-VOC refinish mandate scheduled for January 1, 2009 may be extended.
At a waterborne paint information session presented by BASF, Environment Canada’s Guy Gagn said, “Presently, Jan. 1, 2009 is the sto
p-sell date (for non-compliant materials). However, we’ve received many comments from the industry about that deadline, so right now we’re examining the situation. We may grant an extension, but it is not approved yet.”
The proposed regulations are currently going through Environment Canada’s approval process prior to publication in Canada Gazette Part I. Publication in Gazette Part I was expected in 2007, but Gagn says January 2008 is now a more likely time frame.
Several industry organizations had voiced concerns with the Jan. 1, 2009 deadline.
Even if the implementation date of the VOC regulations is extended, shop conversions to low-VOC products must continue at a steady pace if the nearly 8,000 shops in Canada are to be converted before the deadline.
AIA Northern Alberta Raises Cash for Kids
The AIA Northern Alberta Division raised $3,500 for three local charities at its annual Fall Christmas Gala.
The “Night of Laughs” event was held at the River Cree resort just outside of Edmonton and featured two stand-up comics. The new format was a success, with attendance up 40%. Some 120 attendees had a great time representing the automotive aftermarket industry.
All money raised will be donated to three local children’s charities: Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, Children’s Wish Foundation, and Sport Central.
Dynaline Opens New Warehouse
Dynaline has opened a warehouse in Mississauga, Ont.
The new warehouse will be carrying a broad range of inventory to serve existing and new customers in the region.
The new facility is located at 6535 Millcreek Drive, Unit 27, Mississauga, Ont. L5N 2M2 and can be reached by phone at (905) 821-3880 or toll free 1-888-821-3880.
Letters to the Editor . . .
I am one of two senior automotive service technicians working in a five-bay independent service facility in Winnipeg. I started in 1988 and got my trade license in 1992. One of the biggest hurdles when I first started was getting the knowledge and experience to repair vehicles accurately. After almost 20 years I now have a different hurdle to jump.
All too often during the course of the day, we are delivered wrong, defective, poor-quality parts. Our clients are paying a premium price for these parts and our service to install them. They are paying us to inspect, service, diagnose, and install all the correct parts once we have been authorized to do so. I’m sure they would not want us to improvise the installation of these parts. Trying to get some of these parts to fit is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and it happens on a daily basis. I believe that we do not have our clients’ best interests in mind if we continue to accept these often poorly crafted materials from our suppliers.
For example, on October 25, 2007, I was replacing a warranty rack and pinion on a client’s 2000 Ford Windstar. It was installed fairly recently, less than a month ago, and was already back for warranty. This client had already been inconvenienced; what if he knew that it took four different remanufactured rack and pinions before I found one in acceptable enough condition to be installed on his vehicle?
In closing, I hope this letter is not just read and forgotten. I am having a hard time getting this message across because I am not an owner, and my opinion is not swayed by the bottom line. We all must take a stand and refuse to buy, sell, and install substandard parts. To do my part, I am sending this letter in the hopes that it gets published. Perhaps this could be a catalyst for others to come forth with their stories.
Licensed Auto Service Technician
David Thomas Joyce
Belated word reached Jobber News of the passing of David Thomas Joyce.
Joyce passed away at his home in Portland, Oregon, August 23, 2007 from pulmonary fibrosis.
Joyce, born in Toronto in 1938, was the owner of Master Paint and Supply in Toronto, and was also involved with several other businesses. He was active in civic and charitable affairs in Toronto and Port Carling, and mentored a great many people throughout the years.
In 1992 he moved to Los Angeles, Calif. to work for Morton International, and later to Portland, Oregon. He is survived by his wife of 12 years, Shirley; son, Philip Joyce of Atlanta, Georgia; three stepsons, Kenneth, Steven, and Chris Ammann; five grandchildren in Portland, Oregon; and numerous cousins in Toronto.
There was a memorial held in Portland in September, and there will be a service held in Port Carling in June of 2008, exact time and place to be determined. Remembrances may be made to the National Jewish Lung Hospital in Denver, Colo., or to any hospice organization.
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