Auto Service World
Feature   December 1, 2003   by Auto Service World

Over The Counter: December 2003

NAPA Canada Launches New Banner

Only two years after the NAPA identity was tapped as the new identity for the UAP Inc. auto parts store network, the automotive aftermarket distribution organization has added the NAPA name to its repair shop banner program.

“Twenty years ago, the Canadian independent installer needed a national identity and thus Autopro was born,” said Larry Samuelson, president and CEO of UAP Inc., parent of NAPA Canada, speaking at the Ontario Autopro convention in Niagara Falls, Ont. “In 2001, Autopro finished number one of all repair choices,” he added, referring to the J.D. Power and Associates consumer satisfaction survey. “This is confirmation of how strong the Autopro network has become. The survey shows a correlation between service satisfaction and customers returning to a shop. Some 89% of consumers returned to the shop when they received outstanding service.

“As you might expect,” he continued, “J.D. Power found that price is not what the consumer is looking for.”

Currently, the Autopro banner boasts in the region of 650 outlets in Canada, and the new program is designed to increase both the number and quality of those participating outlets.

Among the new programs being launched in 2004 is a new, more comprehensive warranty program, as well as an increased number of training and business resources for shop owners participating in the NAPA Autopro program. The new program will be distinguished by the addition of the NAPA logo to the Autopro name. In many ways the program being launched mirrors that of the NAPA Auto Care Center program in the U.S., though details are still being rolled out to the Autopro and NAPA network.

“Like many other things in life, we take brands for granted,” says Cle Smith, Ontario regional vice-president. “A brand is not simply a logo, but is built from everything a company does.

“It is time to change and do things differently, to protect the investment in the Autopro brand. The time has come to generate even more synergy by making these two successful brands work together.”

“Autopro is critically important to our business and our future,” said Samuelson. “It is our obligation to help [service providers and jobbers] succeed. Autopro is a trusted choice by thousands of vehicle owners. Together, the NAPA system and Autopro will become stronger, better known, and more successful.”

ArvinMeritor Ends Bid for Dana Corporation

In a surprise move, ArvinMeritor withdrew its bid to take over Dana Corp.

The Dana Corp. rival withdrew its latest offer, saying its 4-month battle to acquire the larger company was over, stating that it was taking too many company resources to continue. ArvinMeritor scratched its offer after Dana’s board of directors unanimously rejected its recently increased offer of $18 U.S. per share.

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Hella Fuels Pump Program

Hella has signed an agreement with fuel pump supplier TI Automotive to expand Hella’s offerings for the North American aftermarket.

The agreement calls for TI Automotive to supply Hella with pumps for domestic and imported cars and light trucks. The new line of more than 400 Hella-branded pumps will be produced at TI Automotive facilities in Caro, Mich. The new range of electric fuel pumps is designed for both high-performance and original-equipment replacement applications.

Steady Growth Ahead for Canadian Aftermarket

The Canadian automotive aftermarket is in for steady growth over the next few years, according to the 2003 Outlook Study published by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada.

The Outlook Study is published biennially to provide information and resources to members for business planning purposes.

The total aftermarket is forecast to grow in real terms by approximately 1.6% in 2003, and 1.4% in 2004. By 2006, the rate of growth is seen as increasing to 3.3% a year. This return to growth marks a welcome departure from the market decline seen in the 1999-2001 period.

The market growth forecast for the aftermarket is being driven by a number of factors. Principal among these is the structure of the vehicle fleet in Canada. At one end of the fleet structure, the large numbers of new vehicles sold in Canada over the period 1997-2002 will start working their way into their prime aftermarket years (5 to 12 years old).

At the other end of the spectrum, there are still a large number of units sold in the late 1980s that remain on the road. Both of these factors provide a positive stimulus to the aftermarket.

Within the overall mix of the 17 million units on the road, other changes can also be seen. The percentage of the fleet accounted for by light trucks continues to grow, as does the share held by import nameplates. From a product proliferation standpoint, the number of distinct models on the road continues to increase, as new players enter the market and product lifecycles are shortened.

Other demand side variables also remain positive. The number of Canadians of driving age continues to increase, kilometres driven per year remains strong, and dollars spent per year on vehicle maintenance remains strong.

Canadians Honoured At Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week

Two Canadians who have dedicated much of their working lives to the betterment of the Canadian automotive aftermarket were honoured for their efforts at Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas, North America’s largest automotive aftermarket event.

Bob Greenwood, noted consultant and trainer, has been named as a recipient of the prestigious Northwood Automotive Aftermarket Management Education Award. Bob McJannett, president and founder of Performance Improvements, was inducted into the Specialty Equipment Market Association Hall of Fame.

Greenwood is also a regular contributor to Jobber News Magazine and Service Station and Garage Management.

He marked his 27th year in the Canadian aftermarket this year, and is the president and CEO of E.K. Williams & Co. and the Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre. He was among eight recipients of the award, presented at Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, with other recipients including Roger Kwapich, a service facility owner and co-host of the CAR Guys radio show. Steven Odland, president and CEO of AutoZone, was also named as a recipient.

Greenwood is the second member of the Jobber News editorial team to receive the award. Bob Blans, now a contributing editor, was named as a recipient some years ago, during his tenure as editor of the publication.

Bob McJannett, president and founder of Performance Improvements, was inducted into the Specialty Equipment Market Association Hall of Fame along with Brian Appelgate, Marvin Rifchin, and Robert Vandergriff, Sr.

McJannett’s Performance Improvements is a mainstay of the Canadian performance retailing market. McJannett, while semi-retired and having sold the wholesale portion of the business to Keystone Performance, is still very active in defending the industry. He most recently championed the cause of automotive enthusiasts’ right to modify their vehicles in Ontario, working with the SEMA Washington, D.C. staff earlier this year to prevent a restrictive bill from becoming law.

Aftermarket Veteran Had Fun Every Day

Gerry Plener, who over 45 years in the Canadian automotive aftermarket became a fixture of sorts, says that he never regretted a single day.

Plener was honoured with a good-natured roast that brought more than 100 people, including a head table from across North America, with Larry Pavey, former head of the Dana brake parts business where Plener worked for most of his career; Ed Coates, owner of Lordco Auto Parts in B.C.; and Robert Blair, president of Carquest Canada, among the speakers.

The evening was capped off with an entertaining video that parodied Plener’s driving skill–or lack of–and his penchant for giving out jackets and “another five points off.”

Presented by the Automotive Service Marketers Association, the event’s proceeds will be donated to a charitable organization.


George Ramik, known to many in the automotive aftermarket for his commitment and dedication to an industry he loved, passed away at the end of October after a long battle with cancer.

“Our thoughts are with Helen, George’s wife, and their two children,” said Brent Simpson, chairman of the Motorist Assurance Program of Canada (MAPC). “George did a tremendous job as executive director of MAPC. He had established the program on a firm footing and was busy soliciting new member companies when he first began to feel ill earlier this year. We shall miss him in many ways, not least of which was his confident approach and pleasant manner,” added Simpson. With a start as a technician in Ottawa, he moved on to become the owner of a successful business. He joined the Canadian Automotive Repair and Service Council, where he made a success of the Youth Internship Program, and continued to contribute to the industry as the first executive director of the Motorist Assurance Program of Canada.

Vincent (Barclay) Upton passed away suddenly at Selkirk General Hospital, in Manitoba, at the age of 65. Upton moved to Canada from England in 1960 and worked in the automotive industry for the last 40 years. During his career he worked for Victor Gaskets, Grant Brothers, G.C. Downing, and most recently with Ertel Manufacturing, retiring in March as western regional sales manager. He recently took a part-time job with the E.R.I. Group so he could stay in contact with his friends and customers. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, three children, and six grandchildren.

Charles (Charlie) Oakley passed away after a long and courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 82. After serving in the RCAF from 1939 to 1945, Charlie went to work in the auto parts business, where he spent his entire working life, finishing his career as the owner of C & J Auto Parts in Steinbach, Manitoba. Over the years he was well liked and respected by staff members, business associates and acquaintances, many of whom would often stop by the house or cottage to spend time with him in appreciation of the dedication and support he had shown them. He will be dearly missed and fondly remembered by Marie, his wife of 59 years, his children Norman, Raymond, Gordon, and Linda, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and many extended family members and friends. Gordon is following in his father’s footsteps and is a district manager for NAPA Auto Parts.