Auto Service World
Feature   November 1, 2002   by Auto Service World

Over the Counter: November 2002

Canadian Automotive Aftermarket Association Embarks on New Plan

The Automotive Industries Association of Canada has initiated a new strategic plan which could significantly change the makeup of Canada’s national automotive aftermarket association.

“The aftermarket industry has grown from a cottage industry to a mature industry,” says AIA chairman Sean Corcelli. “As such, member needs have shifted significantly over the years. This strategic vision provides a new business model upon which to accomplish the association’s mission and mandate.”

The association’s role as the voice and the resource for the automotive aftermarket industry in Canada will not change, says Corcelli. The way that it fulfils those roles will, though.

In an interview with Jobber News, association president Ray Datt said that the focus will turn to other activities, with government relations being the top priority. “We have to be able to deliver something bigger than what the members can,” says Datt. “That is the fundamental philosophy we are looking at.”

Probably the biggest change is the cancellation of the Canadian International Automotive Show which had been planned for Montreal in 2004. With so many trade shows being held at the warehouse level, the show had lost some of its purpose over the past few years. The revenue earned for the association will have to be replaced with other activities. Market research, sponsorships of other activities, and changes to the dues structure are all avenues being explored.

“We’re pretty comfortable that we can create a better return on investment,” says Datt. “Certainly there’s an opportunity to reinvest in a better way.”

The association’s key areas of focus will be to provide government representation, information resources, networking opportunities, and programs for enhancing the industry’s image and profile.

“I see this as a huge opportunity to recognize the changes going on in the marketplace,” says Datt.

One of the first new initiatives will be a membership drive for jobbers. The association is currently embarking on expanding its group membership program that allows jobbers to have a reduced dues cost if minimum levels of membership within their distribution group are reached.

“AIA will be revitalizing its efforts to recruit new members and in return provide direct and tangible value for membership. AIA’s recruitment initiative will focus extensively on jobbers–the stars of our game,” says Corcelli.

NAPA Canada President Pledges Doubling of Business in Five Years

President of NAPA Canada Larry Samuelson told business leaders that the organization’s business will double in the next five years.

Speaking to members of the Automotive Services Marketing Association, the Chicago-born president said, “Many of you might smile at that goal and think that it may not be possible. For those of you who think that, I offer the following: Tiger Woods has become perhaps the greatest golfer in the world. After a recent win a TV commentator asked him, do you think you can win any tournament? Tiger looked at him, smiled and said without a trace of bragging, ‘Why not?'”

Samuelson offered the same challenge to attendees.

Going into this growth, says Samuelson, is a combination of acquisition and organic growth, with an emphasis on the latter. Covering many of the points introduced last spring at the organization’s National Business Conference, Samuelson said that an important part of the growth plan is an expansion of retail sales.

“When someone walks into your store who you don’t know, does it really make a difference whether that person is a retail customer or a wholesale customer? All you need to know is that person has a problem. He came into your store for help in solving it. Your goal and your mission is to solve the customer’s problem by providing him with a part and make a profit for your store and yourself at the same time. Difficult to do, but the concept is pretty simple.”

This is behind the changes to the exterior and interior of the stores. “Our interest in retail should not in any way detract from the installer customer. It will help us to serve the installer customer better. Our stores will have more inventory, they’ll be open longer hours, they will have more staff, and more trucks to deliver orders. Our primary customer has already been the installer, and that will always be, but today we need to broaden the customer base we look at. Retail is part of that decision.”

Corteco Takes to the Road

Corteco recently took to the road with its engine sealing message, making five stops in Canada.

The Corteco Technology Truck hosted a travelling show and was brought to several locations in conjunction with technical seminars on sealing. During the Canadian stops this year, more than 200 technicians and service business owners attended technical seminars on Corteco’s white seal technology, and other sealing issues. The Canadian stops were held as part of a North American tour, and there are plans for future stops in Canada during 2003.

Delphi Corporation has announced a realignment of its businesses. The changes, effective January 1, 2003, will place the Delphi Product & Service Solutions aftermarket business under the Electrical, Electronics, Safety & Interior Sector business, with Frank Ordonez continuing to serve as the aftermarket group’s top executive.

Cross Canada Autobody Supply Ltd. is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of At Pac West Auto Parts Ltd., located in Vancouver B.C., from Joe and Jerry Caedo. Both Joe and Jerry will remain in management positions. This is the third distribution centre added in the past 10 years, giving Cross Canada locations in Windsor, Ont. (head office), Toronto, Ont., Edmonton, Alta., and Vancouver, B.C.

The Racing with James Turner CASCAR Celebrity Golf Tournament raised more than $38,000 for the Rick Hansen Man In Motion Foundation and the Leukemia Research Fund of Canada. James Turner, son of CASCAR driver Al Turner, was stricken with a spinal tumour that has put him in a wheelchair, though he hopes to walk again.

A Canadian shop has been named as one of the 11 finalists in the 2002 Carquest Excellence Awards. MSJ Automotive Services, located in Windsor, Ont. and owned by John Sawatsky, was the lone Canadian repair business selected in the North American wide competition.