Auto Service World
Feature   December 1, 2000   by Auto Service World

Over the Counter: December 2000

ACDelco Launches New Distribution Strategy

General Motors Service Parts Operations has launched a new strategy which will see a dedicated network of distributors handling the company’s ACDelco branded product.

Under the ACDelco Dedicated Distribution Group structure, distributors would be provided with a full slate of services, including an e-commerce platform and market planning. In return, the distributors would commit to becoming exclusive ACDelco distributors.

The move will spell an end to the currently common practice of ACDelco distributors flying another banner in addition to the ACDelco name, says Scott Mackie, general director of ACDelco, International and New Ventures for GM Service Parts Operations. Discussions with distributors have already commenced in the U.S., but as of this writing discussions had yet to be held with the network of Canadian distributors currently carrying ACDelco products.

“Our intent is that we have completed the program to close our distribution group in the U.S. [by the end of 2001],” says Mackie. “It is our intent to roll this out in Canada. We are not as far down the road in Canada as we are in the U.S. We are in the process of building our product lineup. I would hope that would be complete within the calendar year. Canada will be somewhat behind that,” says Mackie, estimating the Canadian lag time in terms of months, not years. In the past few months, ACDelco has announced additions to its product lineup, now to include belts and hoses and chassis parts as part of its “All-Makes, All-Models” initiative.

Mackie says he’s clear on the purpose behind the new distribution strategy. “It’s to control our destiny; it’s about controlling our distribution all the way down to the installer network.” It is also, he says, about maintaining the integrity of the brand, “as opposed to just brand-only selling.”

Mackie says that the drive to lock in its distribution has an important electronic component. “It’s central to our program. On average, 30% to 35% of the independent service centers–from multi-store chains to one-bay garages–have computers. With the onslaught of dot-coms trying to disintermediate us [it is critical] that our customers be linked to us.”

Among the services the company hopes will attract distributors to become a part of the program are the electronic linkages available to distributors and installers. “Through state-of-the-art electronic communications, ACDelco will offer distributor supply chain linkage for bulletins, cross-referencing, pricing/invoicing, ordering, parts catalog and more through its Electronic Parts Information Center (EPIC),” says Mackie. ACDelco has also developed a Web Integrated Service Environment (WISE) software program that includes an Internet connection between ACDelco warehouse distributors and Independent Service Centers. WISE incorporates total shop management, including labor and parts estimating, integrated diagnostics, service information, parts procurement and more.

The distribution sector strategy will not change the relationship with the independent installer, however. “The maintenance of that relationship will continue to be managed by the distributor,” says Mackie. “It should just strengthen that relationship.”

Quebec Announces Emissions Program

Quebec is poised to enter the world of mandatory emissions testing beginning in 2002.

The announcement, by Quebec Minister of Environment Paul Begin and Minister of Natural Resources Jacques Brassard, calls for a multi-phase program similar to those in Ontario and British Columbia.

When it debuts in 2002, the Un Air d’Avenir program will require all heavy-duty vehicles in the province to undergo emissions testing, while light vehicles only in the Montreal region will be included. Subsequent phases will cover the other regions of Quebec.

University Joins With Northwood

The University of the Aftermarket has joined Northwood University and will relocate from Kansas City, Mo. to Northwood’s main campus in Midland, Mich.

“Our program has grown from 250 students to more than 8,000 students in the last five years,” said Bob Raff, chairman of the University of the Aftermarket. “This new relationship with Northwood University creates a synergy that will not only help expand the student body but improve the quality of the education students receive, and thus improve the caliber of professionals working in the aftermarket.”

The University of the Aftermarket is the result of an educational alliance of the Auto-motive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), the Automotive Warehouse Distribu-tors Association (AWDA) and the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA).

The foundation, which helps fund the University of the Aftermarket, will remain independent but continue its single focus to support the University and its programs.

Terms of the administrative transfer agreement between the two universities call for Chuck Udell to continue as president of the University of the Aftermarket. Additionally, all college credits earned by students will be transferable.

TRW Re-Enters Chassis Aftermarket

TRW has announced that it is re-entering the undercar aftermarket with a full-line offering under the Autospecialty brand.

TRW, which still respects the TRW licensing agreement with Federal-Mogul, is clear to enter the aftermarket under the Autospecialty name. Autospecialty, based in California, has heretofore been recognized as a supplier of brake components. The announcement by TRW expands that offering to include steering and suspension parts, including remanufactured rack & pinion units. More than 2,500 parts are included in the catalog.

The business plans to develop a comprehensive OE and all-makes program. TRW’s steering and suspension business operates 43 facilities in 17 countries. Currently, TRW-branded steering and suspension products are distributed in certain markets by Federal-Mogul under a licensing agreement due to expire in 2002.

Texaco Acquires Quebec Lubricant Company

Texaco Lubricants Company has acquired Distributeur D’Accessoires Distac, an independent lubricant company based in Montreal, Que.

Distac is capable of providing a full range of blending, packaging and transportation services to Quebec and Eastern Canada. Distac’s products include agricultural and industrial lubricants as well as other branded lubricants. Texaco says the acquisition will provide full service and expanded Texaco offerings in the market area while also making the operations in the region more efficient.

Safety-Kleen to Distribute Recycling Parts Cleaners

Safety-Kleen Corp. has announced that its subsidiary, Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc., has signed an agreement to serve as the exclusive distributor of SystemOne’s line of parts cleaning equipment.

SystemOne’s products will be marketed throughout Safety-Kleen Systems’ 173 branch locations across North America beginning in 2001. The Miami-based SystemOne Technolo-gies, Inc. designs and manufactures a full range of parts cleaning equipment for use in automotive and industrial markets. These products feature self-contained solvent recycling technologies that provide customers with a fresh supply of clean solvent on demand, which virtually eliminates the generation of waste. The multi-year agreement between Safety-Kleen and SystemOne encompasses the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico, and will require the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court overseeing Safety-Kleen’s Chapter 11 reorganization. In addition to marketing the machines to new customers, Safety-Kleen will extend its parts cleaning services to SystemOne’s customer base of 18,000 machines.

Acklands-Grainger Gives Big to United Way

Acklands-Grainger has stepped up its involvement with the United Way, and kicked off its pledge with a $35,000 donation.

“Acklands-Grainger and the United Way make perfect partners,” said Acklands-Grainger president Doug Harrison. “The Unite
d Way’s national scope and the diversity of organizations it supports are clearly in line with our corporate vision.

“The United Way is comprised of a cross-Canada network of 125 local community-based United Ways where decisions are made at the local level and funds distributed based on individual community needs,” he added. In addition to the initial contribution, the company and its employees will lend their support to the United Way with a number of fundraising activities.

When PartSource opened two stores in Edmonton recently, it had country music performer Julian Austin bring out the crowds. Canadian Tire’s auto parts chain has more than two dozen outlets now.

The Timken Company has announced plans for a new technology center in France. The center will take over product testing and development from the current facility in England when it is completed in mid-2001.

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The Riverside Group has closed its acquisition of the ATC Distribution Group from The Aftermarket Technology Corporation. ATC distributes transmission parts through its King-O-Matic subsidiary in Canada.

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