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Auto-Wares Group of Companies has named its 2021 Supplier of the Year award winners, recognizing six companies for outstanding performance and collaboration through the past year.
The awards were presented at the Auto-Wares Group of Companies year-end sales meeting. More than 300 people attended the virtual meeting.
BBB Industries received top honors, being named overall 2021 Auto-Wares Supplier of the Year.
The BBB team delivered outstanding performance in all categories, including sales, field support, marketing, fill rate and technology, despite all the challenges 2021 brought us.
“It’s a real honor to accept this award on behalf of the entire BBB team,” said Kim Nolan, BBB’s SVP of sales – traditional. “It was a year that presented some unique challenges for everyone, and we couldn’t be more pleased to receive this coveted award for the outstanding efforts of our entire team. A special thank-you to the entire Auto-Wares organization for supporting BBB and embracing our products and programs in all the product categories we supply. You push us to be better and for that we are grateful.”
Other Auto-Wares supplier award winners included:
Rising Star Supplier of the Year – Sunsong Data & Technology Supplier of the Year – Dorman Sales & Marketing Supplier of the Year – DRiV Rep of the Year – Cindy Ford, SMP; Corbin Coons, DRiV; Patrick Mulrooney, NA Williams Auto-Wares leadership and stores and sales teams voted on the awards.
“Auto-Wares could not be more proud in awarding the Supplier of the Year award to BBB industries for their continued hard work and dedication to the aftermarket and Auto-Wares, and congratulations to all of this year’s award-winning suppliers.” Tim Stone, director of product at Auto-Wares.
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Meet “the Marble family.” Mrs. Marble drives a two-year-old BMW, which she takes to the dealership for all maintenance and repairs. Since the pandemic hit, she’s been working from home entirely, saving her vehicle from the wear and tear of a 30-mile daily commute.
Traditionally, Mrs. Marble hasn’t supported the independent automotive aftermarket at all. But, she picked up a new hobby during the pandemic: car detailing. And her husband, who drives a 10-year-old Ford F-150, has decided not to purchase a new truck due to inventory shortages and skyrocketing prices on the showroom floor. Instead, Mr. Marble has been tackling delayed maintenance needs such as new brakes and a coolant flush. On top of that, the Marble family bought a new camper, which they’ve taken on 20 road trips since the pandemic started.
Then there’s “Hailey.” Although she’s been working from home and driving less during the pandemic, the extra time at home inspired her to restore her 1966 Mustang that’s been sitting in the garage. Meanwhile, “Charles,” who lives in New York City (and previously didn’t own a vehicle), bought a car during the pandemic, because he can’t stand the prospect of using mass transit due to fears of being exposed to COVID.
Nathan Shipley, executive director, industry analyst, for The NPD Group, used these fictional but “very real” examples to show how the pandemic has spurred major changes in consumer behavior – many of which have benefited the automotive aftermarket in a big way. During a presentation at AAPEX 2021 in Las Vegas, Shipley shared NPD Group data showing that the automotive aftermarket gained nearly 4 million new retail buyers in 2020.
“That’s a big number,” Shipley said. “Those are folks who had not bought anything on the DIY side of the aftermarket prior to 2020, and all of a sudden magically appeared and were engaged with us as an industry.”
Looking back, the whys behind the boom in DIY sales have become crystal clear: more time at home; a windfall of discretionary cash from stimulus checks, child-tax credits and (for some) extended unemployment benefits; an aversion to airplanes and public transportation; and cabin fever, which drove sales of RVs and boats to record levels.
As Shipley discussed The NPD Group’s 2022 outlook for front-room retail sales in the automotive aftermarket, he noted a number of “mixed signals” on the horizon. On the positive side, the job market remains strong in the aftermath of the 2020 recession; COVID-inspired activities such as camping, boating and road trips are showing no signs of slowing down; and the new- and used-car marketplace is pushing consumers to keep their older vehicles on the road longer than planned.
“There are more cars on the road now than ever,” Shipley added. “Scrappage rates are down. VIO is up. The average [vehicle] age is trending older because of what’s happening with new cars. Those are all nice tailwinds for the aftermarket.”
However, there are a number of pandemic-era tailwinds that could become headwinds for the aftermarket in 2022 – notably the absence of stimulus payments and the expiration of the eviction moratorium, expanded unemployment benefits and student-loan forbearance. Shipley believes that many consumers likely will be surprised by a smaller-than-usual tax refund, because “they just don’t understand the mechanics” of the child-tax-credit payments that showed up in consumers’ bank accounts in 2021.
And, while Shipley said he expects miles driven to return to 2019 levels this year, rising gasoline prices remain the ultimate wild card. At press time (Jan. 7), the average price of gasoline was $3.303 per gallon nationwide, according to AAA.
“We can go back years … and there’s a direct correlation between gasoline prices and miles driven, notably when we get to gasoline-price thresholds of $3.50 a gallon, $4 a gallon,” Shipley added. “That’s when we start to really see – at least historically – major behavior changes as it relates to driving. So this has crept back into the conversation.”
NPD’s data modeling for 2022 calls for U.S. aftermarket retail sales to pull back 5.7% from 2021 – a year in which sales were up nearly 8% compared to 2020. However, the 2022 forecast anticipates that aftermarket retail sales will be 8.5% higher this year than they were in 2019.
“This is a bullish forecast,” Shipley said. “This is suggesting that 2021 was the peak, and things are going to keep trucking right along,” assuming there are no new sales-triggering events such as additional stimulus packages.
He added: “I think the big takeaway is that the fundamentals of this industry are very, very strong. We should feel very, very good about where we’re at as an industry. But, overall, we expect things to settle in just below where they were in 2021.”
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AASA’s president and CEO, Paul McCarthy, recently announced multiple promotions within the association in recognition of hard work, professional development and dedication to the automotive aftermarket.
Ben Brucato, a 20-year industry veteran, has been promoted to vice president of engagement. Brucato has led multiple teams, including marketing, sponsorships and membership, during his time with AASA. He is lead over the Overseas Automotive Council, Modern Industry eXpertise Council and Marketing Executives Council, and specializes in member acquisition, engagement and retention.
Megan Gardner, with more than two decades of marketing and automotive-industry experience, has been promoted to senior director of sales and marketing. Gardner oversees the AASA marketing team, is lead over the OE Service Council, owns sponsorship and marketing responsibilities and supports government advocacy efforts.
Elizabeth Goad, with more than 10 years of tenure with AASA, has been promoted to senior director of events and meetings. Goad executes more than 90 events annually, including conferences, webinars and council meetings, and leads AASA and MEMA‘s activities as co-owner of AAPEX, which is one of the world’s largest aftermarket gatherings.
“We are honored to announce these promotions to kickoff 2022,” McCarthy said. “These three team members continuously exude qualities of strong leaders that contribute to a healthy and successful organization. Ben, Megan and Liz have worked diligently to connect members to what matters and have helped make AASA and the automotive aftermarket a better place for all of our members.”
For more information on AASA, click here.
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AMN/Counterman and Babcox Media are thrilled to kick off the nomination process for our third-annual “Women at the Wheel” celebration!
For our May 2022 cover story, Women at the Wheel, we will be profiling some of today’s top female professionals leading the charge in the automotive aftermarket.
We are looking for candidates from the executive level to the counter pro to the shop owner who make a difference through innovation, business acumen or serving as a role model in the automotive aftermarket.
Click here to nominate a woman in your professional community who creates that spark. We can’t wait to share your stories.
The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, Feb. 4, 2022.
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