Auto Service World
Feature   March 1, 2001   by Auto Service World

Over the Counter: March 2001

AIA Hits Ottawa for Tool Tax Reform

“Persistence” was the buzzword for Automotive Industries Association board members after a day-long tool tax blitz of federal politicians in Ottawa.

Conducted on the heels of a private members bill supporting tax fairness for technicians’ tool requirements, more than two dozen meetings were held as part of what the AIA termed its “Hill Event.” One of the key meetings was held with Maurizio Bevilacqua, chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.

He echoed his comments reported in the November issue of Jobber News Magazine, saying that it was important for the industry and the association to continue to press for the changes and that those efforts to this point have had an effect. As evidence, three private members bills were submitted on the subject in this parliamentary session.

“Five years ago you weren’t even on the radar,” said Bevilacqua. Later, in the House, Bevilacqua spoke of the aftermarket and told the elected members present that AIA members employ 220,000 people across the country, adding that aftermarket companies “greatly contribute to the world-class standing of Canada’s automotive industry.”

But the member of parliament whose tool tax bill is being reviewed right now isn’t so sure that the chance of success is that great. “Under access to information I was able to look at all the correspondence on the issue with the Finance Ministry,” says Leon Earl Benoit, the Canadian Alliance member for Lakeland, Alta. “The bottom line is that it will cost the government $66 million and that’s why they won’t do it.”

Another important meeting was held with Jane Stewart, minister of human resources, where the cost of tools as a barrier to youth entering the trade was discussed.

Combined, the day-long event seems to have had some positive effect. AIA’s national office in Ottawa reports that it has been pivotal in getting a meeting with the office of Paul Martin, Minister of Finance, to discuss the issue.

Since the meeting, the AIA has been working closely with Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) and the Department of Finance to assess the growing shortage of licensed automotive technicians in Canada and to develop a plan that will attract new prospects to the industry. Currently the aftermarket industry employs more than 200,000 people, with 140,000 employed as automotive service technicians. Over the next two years, it is expected there will be a shortage of 12,000 new service technicians across Canada.

“We are delighted that Jane Stewart has addressed such critical shortages in all skilled labor trades and in particular the automotive aftermarket,” stated Ray Datt, president of the AIA.

Maurizio Bevilacqua, chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, told assembled politicians and aftermarket members that the AIA had represented the case of the aftermarket well and thanked them for continuing to bring the tool tax issue to the forefront.

National Training Tour Completed

The Partners In Training Tour completed its run through Canada to strong reviews and a positive outlook for the future.

The tour, which visited six cities with seven dates, was sponsored by Federal-Mogul Canada and administered by the Southam Automotive Group, which publishes Jobber News and Service Station and Garage Management, among other automotive industry business publications.

Although one date, London, Ont., had to be folded into the Toronto dates due to low registration, five of the remaining seven dates were filled to capacity. In all, more than 200 professionals attended the two-day business-training course.

Comments by attendees were extremely positive. “If you have not taken this course–Why?? It is a real eye opener,” said Brian Ratledge, O.K Tire, who attended the Calgary P.I.T. stop. “And you think you knew everything. You don’t. It will jog your memory and kick you in the pants.”

“It provides excellent info on looking at improving business by looking at different angles, not necessarily just by selling more,” said Stacey McNab, Canada Auto, who attended the Winnipeg date.

Mel Drake of Great West Auto had this to say about the course: “I would highly recommend it. We all like to make more money and if we don’t change our thinking, many of us will be out of business.”

Discussions are already underway on future P.I.T. Tour dates and organizers are currently taking suggestions for future locations. If you would like a location to be considered, contact the Southam Automotive Group by fax at (416) 442-2221.

UAP Renews Petro-Canada Supply Agreement

Petro-Canada has entered into a five-year agreement with UAP/NAPA for the supply of automotive parts to its network of service stations across Canada.

Under the terms of the agreement, UAP/NAPA stores across the country have been designated as the preferred parts supply source for Petro-Canada Associates who are engaged in the vehicle repair business.

“The partnership agreement with Petro-Canada drives home the real value and commitment our service represents,” says UAP president and COO Larry Samuelson. “We are pleased that Petro-Canada has favorably responded to the UAP competitive edge.”

Petro-Canada has more than 1,600 retail sites, including 150 franchised Certigard locations.

Uni-Select USA Joins Parts Plus, Agrees to Buy DC

Parts Plus and Uni-Select, Inc. announce that Uni-Select U.S.A., Inc, based in St. Paul, Minn., has joined the Parts Plus membership and has agreed to acquire a distribution center in Memphis, Tenn.

“We have been in discussion with Uni-Select U.S.A. for some time and are very pleased to announce their membership into the Parts Plus Association,” Mr. Mike Lambert, president of Parts Plus, said. “By adding the strength of Uni-Select U.S.A., we will expand the Parts Plus program into new market areas and further solidify our presence in the aftermarket. Parts Plus will then have presence in all 50 states.”

Jacques Landreville, president and CEO of Uni-Select, stressed that “Uni-Select U.S.A. will take full advantage of all Parts Plus marketing, training and national accounts programs to promote a well-established, national identity for our customers’ 347 locations in the U.S.A. This association will support our growth strategy for the U.S. market, favoring the independent wholesaler.”

The distribution center, owned by The Parts Plus Group, Inc., of Bogota, N.J., will join another such facility already owned and operated by Uni-Select in the same city. The DC currently serves nearly 100 wholesalers, most in Tennessee and Mississippi. Uni-Select Inc. has had ties with Parts Plus since 1992 when it became an international associate member. Uni-Select will retain this status within the Parts Plus association.

Alldata Earns ASE Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition

Alldata has received the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition for professional dedication demonstrated by a high percentage of ASE-Certified staff.

Alldata is the first organization to earn Blue Seal Recognition under the Support Establishments category of this distinguished ASE program.

“It is truly an honor for our team to be recognized by such a respected organization as ASE,” said Walt Samuelson, EVP/COO of ALLDATA, Customer Satisfac-tion. “Receiving this award from ASE affirms our commitment to having our editors properly trained so they can deliver automotive service providers with the most comprehensive diagnostic, repair and estimating information available.”

The Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition Program is a unique ASE initiative designed to recognize businesses committed to excellence. To qualify, 75% of the service professionals employed at the business must be ASE certified.

Northwood University plans Automotive Education Center

Northwood University has announced a plan to build a multi-million-dollar automotive education facility at its Midland, Mich., campus.

The facility, estimated to cost $5 million U.S., will house the university’s growing aftermarket program as well as the offices of the Univers
ity of the Aftermarket. Plans call for a 25,000-square-foot building housing “smart classrooms” that will link the facilities to Texas and Florida campuses. “A dedicated building will establish an impressive and identifiable presence for the aftermarket and help attract greater numbers of students to the program and thus be able to supply more qualified people to the industry,” said Dr. David Fry, Northwood University president.

Under the plan, the university will supply the land, entrance, parking and utility infrastructure, with the funds for the facility coming from industry through a campaign being spearheaded by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association.

KYB Canadian Facility Fully Operational

Ride control supplier KYB America LLC reports that its Canadian facility and program are in place.

G.O.S.S. Industries in Mississauga, Ont., is handling inventory and shipping for KYB out of its 48,000-square-foot warehouse. In addition, the supplier has put together a full Canadian program, including Canadian pricing. The line is handled in Canada by Specialty Sales & Marketing.

In addition, KYB has opened its new head office in Addison, Ill. The 75,000-square-foot facility will serve as both head office and Midwest warehousing facility.

Snap-On Training Solutions and the Automotive Industries Association of Canada are proceeding with plans for a series of five-day training courses for installers. The extensive program costs $1,500, though bookings through AIA members receive a price break. Contact the AIA or Cliff Young at Training Solutions at (905) 624-0066 ext. 241.

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