Auto Service World
Feature   June 1, 2005   by Auto Service World

Over The Counter June 2005

Jobber News Partners With British Auto Supply On Counterperson Award

Jobber News Magazine has announced a partnership with British Auto Supply in the creation of the Abe Schwartz Counterperson of the Year Award.

The award is named after Abe Schwartz, patriarch of the Schwartz family, who passed away in 2004. Michael and David Schwartz, who own and operate the 100-year-old British Auto Supply company in Toronto, Ont., had previously sponsored a counterperson of the year award through a now-defunct magazine.

“David and I had been talking for some time about reviving a counterperson award,” said Andrew Ross, Jobber News Magazine publisher and editor. “We had both tried to obtain the previous trophy, but to no avail. In the end, David suggested an award named after his father who worked behind the counter for more than half a century. I thought it was a great idea.”

“My father was the kind of guy who you really had to push to give you advice,” said David Schwartz. “He never wanted to say anything bad, never wanted to criticize.

“The last award I made out of respect. This one I have created out of love.”

Abe Schwartz, who spent more than 70 years in the automotive aftermarket at British Auto Supply in Toronto, passed away in May 2004. The second generation of the Schwartz family to work in the now century-old business, Abe began working for his father, Jacob, at age 10.

David Schwartz said that he felt it appropriate to recognize his father’s contributions, and to recognize the contributions of dedicated counterpeople to the industry in kind.

The Abe Schwartz Counterperson of the Year Award will be presented later this year, with additional details on criteria and sponsors to come.

“We still have a few details to work out regarding specific criteria, and a few related announcements to make shortly,” said Ross, “but I’m being quite honest when I say that I am looking forward to adding this special award to the Canadian automotive aftermarket.”

British Auto Supply Suffers Fire Damage

Only days after launching a new counterperson award with Jobber News, Toronto jobber British Auto Supply suffered a serious fire.

The fire apparently started in the ceiling of the Uni-Select member’s operation in downtown Toronto, and spread to the entire stock area, leading to a virtually total loss of the building and stock.

The fire has forced the century-old organization to move operations to another location for at least several months, said co-owner David Schwartz.

Valvoline to Buy Car Brite

Valvoline has agreed to purchase Car Brite, a manufacturer of professional automotive reconditioning products, from E&A Industries.

Terms of the cash deal were not disclosed.

Indianapolis-based Car Brite makes interior and exterior cleaners, paint restorers, paint protectants and final paints and dyes. Its products are sold by more than 100 distributors. Car Brite’s customers are auto and recreational vehicle dealers, auto auction companies, car washes and detail shops.

Castrol Deal A Vote of Confidence for Canada, says Wakefield President

The head of Wakefield Canada says the creation of the company should be seen as BP’s continuing commitment to the Castrol brand in Canada.

In an exclusive interview with Jobber News, Bob MacDonald said that BP Castrol chose to strike the alliance with Wakefield after an analysis of suitors revealed that the best people to continue to build the business in Canada were the same ones doing it under the BP ownership. “We’re in a very competitive market with some great brands. Castrol is a world renowned, international brand. This is one of the reasons we have been able to be in the number one position.”

MacDonald is no stranger to Castrol Canada, having headed up the operation for several years before taking senior executive positions with Castrol in the U.S.

The decision was driven by BP’s need to focus its resources on emerging markets with high growth potential, such as Russia and China. Canada, while a strong, growing market, was characterized as mature, MacDonald told Jobber News.

Under the terms of the alliance, Wakefield will manage the sales, distribution and marketing of Castrol products in Canada, while Castrol Canada Inc. will continue to manufacture and supply Wakefield with Castrol branded products from its Toronto manufacturing plant.

However, MacDonald says that many in the aftermarket have had some trouble understanding just what kind of company Wakefield is.

“We’re not an agent, and we’re not a distributor. We’re a brand new business model for the Canadian marketplace. We are BP Castrol’s exclusive automotive sales marketing and distribution partner in Canada. For all intents and purposes, we are Castrol in Canada.”

MacDonald says that a close approximation is the relationship that bottlers have with Coca-Cola. “They have the rights to the brand, as we do, but they actually do the bottling while Coca-Cola does the marketing, whereas we do the marketing and BP Castrol will continue to do the packaging.”

MacDonald says that virtually all non-manufacturing staff from Castrol, some 70 in all, will join Wakefield, with plans to expand certain departments. The new arrangement will provide added freedom to address Canadian market needs.

“We understand the business. We have the ability to focus on and execute programs based on the Canadian business.

“We are going to be here for a long time,”–the agreement is for 20 years–“and we have more than a passing interest. We are shareholders in the business and we are here for the long term.”

Over the long term, Wakefield may add other products to its portfolio, but that will not occur for some time.

“Other complementary products that go through the same channels and have the same customers are all incremental business opportunities. However, I think that right now we need to focus on the Castrol business. Castrol, even though it is number one, has only 15% to 16% of the marketplace. There is lot of room for growth left in this market.”

Keystone Automotive Continues Expansion Strategy

In a continuation of its expansion strategy, Keystone Automotive Operations, Inc. has announced that it has purchased the wholesale operations of Blacksmith Distributing, Inc.

Based in Elkhart, Indiana, Blacksmith Distributing is a premier automotive aftermarket accessory distributor, using its own vehicles to provide over 3,500 retailers in 11 states with access to more than 200 product lines. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are very pleased to have reached a mutually rewarding agreement with the Kovach family, which has done such an admirable job of building a quality business and strong customer relationships over the last 23 years,” said Bob Vor Broker, chief executive officer of Keystone Automotive Operations. “Acquiring warehouse distributors is an integral part of our expansion strategy, and we continue to look for attractive acquisition opportunities across the U.S. and Canada, both regionally and in product niches. We will also focus on growing our business organically.”

Blacksmith Distributing will bring a selection of new and unique product lines to Keystone, as well as greater depth in truck and light truck products such as bed liners and tool boxes.

ATP-Inc. Celebrates 50 Years

Parts manufacturer ATP-Inc. will celebrate its 50th anniversary July 1.

Back on July 1, 1955, Automatic Transmission Parts was incorporated in a humble 2000-square-foot facility in Chicago, Ill., where the company provided aftermarket replacement parts for automatic transmissions.

In 1964, the company moved to its current facility in Morton Grove, Illinois. To meet the demands of the changing marketplace, ATP introduced the first of its driveline-related chemicals in 1995. 1998 brought the release of interior ventilation filters.

A new logo and trade name, ATP Professional Auto Parts, was announced in 1999. This signalled the company’s focus on a broader range of replacement parts beyond automatic transmission parts. The introduction of Graywerks by ATP in 2001 cemented this focus. The Graywerks line consists of exhaust manifolds, harmonic balancers, timing covers and engine and transmission pans.

NGK Announces Wire Set Program

NGK Spark Plugs Canada Limited has announced the relaunch of the NGK Wire Sets program, now offering complete and comprehensive full line coverage.

The exact OEM fit and design philosophy that NGK Wire Sets are known for on Japanese applications is now available for all GM, Ford, Chrysler and European applications.

According to the company, NGK Wire Sets utilize patented stainless steel terminal connectors at the spark plug and distributor ends that feature up to three revolutionary NGK serrated crimps.

The serrated teeth “bite” into the cable jacket and inner insulation layers to ensure that NGK Wire Sets provide the highest possible terminal retention and pull strength–greater than that of the OEM or any other wire set in the industry. NGK says it is the only wire set in the industry to offer cylinder lead identification for quick and easy installation that will save technicians time, money and aggravation upon installation.

Activant Purchases Systems House

Activant Solutions Inc has acquired substantially all of the assets of The Systems House, Inc., a technology solutions provider for distributors primarily in the automotive aftermarket and office products industries.

The acquisition provides next-generation technology for Activant’s customers in the automotive aftermarket and wholesale distribution industries, key vertical segments in Activant’s vision for growth.

The Systems House’s Vision warehouse distribution and store management system offers a sleek and simple Windows-based GUI built on Microsoft’s .NET technology. The Vision product line includes inventory and order management, price and performance analysis, financial management, integrated CRM, e-commerce, paperless delivery, wireless capabilities, and catalogue integration.

As part of the integration process, The Systems House Vision product line will be renamed Activant Vision, and will be offered as an alternative solution for large two-stepper aftermarket distributors and customers who prefer a modern GUI interface.

Delphi Commended for Web Catalogue

Delphi Corp. announced today that the extranet catalogue received the President’s Excellence Award for “Best Web Catalog” 2004-2005 from the National Catalog Managers Association (NCMA).

“The Go Delphi catalog supports Delphi’s strategy of bringing OE quality products to the independent aftermarket by providing the web access to product applications, cross references, images and service documents our customers demand,” said David Barbeau, general director, global sales and marketing, Delphi Product & Service Solutions.

New Digs For Reman Group

The Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association has moved its offices.

The new address is:

Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association

4215 Lafayette Center, Suite 3

Chantilly VA 20151-1243

Phone: (703) 968-2772

Fax: (703) 968-2878

Please note that the association’s phone and fax numbers have not changed.


In the April issue of Jobber News, Bestbuy Distributors chairman Russ Johnson was misidentified. Jobber News regrets the error.

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