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By Auto News
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The leadership of National Pronto Association and Automotive Distribution Network announced today the merger of the two organizations. As of Jan. 1, 2021, the newly formed organization will be known as the Pronto Automotive Distribution Network.
Headquartered in Grapevine, Texas, Pronto Automotive Distribution Network will be led by Robert Roos as president and David Prater as executive vice president. The combined organization will represent more than 250 members in North America with an estimated revenue of approximately $5 billion annually. Members will continue to market under the Pronto, Parts Plus and Auto Pride names.
In addition, Pronto Automotive Distribution Network, together with Federated Auto Parts, will comprise the Automotive Parts Services Group (The Group).
“Pronto members and staff are excited to partner with the Network team. The similarities between our two groups are significant, making the transition into one company a much easier path,” said Roos. “This merger will benefit Network and Pronto members, as well as our valued vendor partners, by increasing our membership footprint throughout North America and helping to ensure our collective future viability. In addition, the merger will enhance our position within The Group, working alongside our partners at Federated. I can’t think of a better way to start off the new year.”
“By forming the Pronto Automotive Distribution Network, we will have the ability to build on past success, make a greater impact in the marketplace, and identify more ways to benefit our members, supplier partners and associates,” added Prater. “Because the aftermarket is always evolving, taking this proactive step and merging two of the major program groups will help ensure our combined membership is well positioned to compete and achieve mutual success well into the future.”
Parts proliferation. Amazon. Access to data. Consolidation. Technology.
These are all issues that weigh heavily on the minds of leaders in distribution today. However, when Counterman spoke with Bobby Segal, CEO of Sanel Auto Parts, and current chairman of the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA), to get his thoughts on the most pressing issues in distribution today, it wasn’t any of these issues that worried him.
His biggest concern for distribution? It’s not what you think.
Segal reflected on the massive consolidation that has taken place in distribution over the past several decades, visually exemplified by the shrinking – and eventual disappearance – of the old printed member directories AWDA used to produce annually. Over the years, outright consolidation morphed into member rollups and buyouts or attempting to take a company public, followed by a growing interest from private equity and of course, the introduction of new online players like Amazon and RockAuto.
Regardless of these external changes over the years, the focus for his Concord, New Hampshire-based family business always has been on being the best.
“From our perspective at our company, we’re not about being the largest,” Segal says. “We’re about being profitable, sustainable. That’s what we’re focused on.”
Outside of his own business, as chairman of AWDA, Segal says AWDA members have the opportunity to truly learn from one another if they stay open, and pay attention.
“The smaller entities, the ones who are active, are running sustainable models and doing some really unique things in their marketplaces. Because a lot of them are smaller, they’re nimble and they have the relationships. That’s one of the benefits of AWDA; these are the best of the best who are participating. I’m always learning something new from other AWDA members who are doing some really neat things.”
Segal is a passionate advocate for industry involvement in legislative issues, and he believes this should be at the top of the priority list for every distributor that wants to survive.
This brings us to the million-dollar question: As chairman of AWDA, what is Segal’s biggest concern for the industry today?
“My concern is the people who don’t realize they are going out of business because they don’t feel that they have the time to participate,” says Segal. “They can participate. Thinking that they are so small that they aren’t relevant, that apathy is a threat. People don’t realize how powerful one business can be. Our elected officials are interested.”
Even with all of the major legislative issues at stake today – China, steel and auto parts tariffs and a potential trade war – Segal says access to repair information is still this industry’s No. 1 issue.
“It’s making sure our customers are not locked out of the ability to service cars and we are able to supply the technicians with the parts they need,” Segal adds.
When asked about his outlook for the distribution business for the second half of 2018, Segal had a bigger, more widespread concern.
“You hear people all around the country [saying]that their business is up or down, depending on the macroeconomic events that impact their local economies, but I guess the concern would be the price of gasoline and how that would impact miles driven,” Segal says. “Cars don’t break if they sit. For the second half of the year, that is what I see as the biggest threat.”
Editor’s note: This is the cover story in the June 2018 issue of Counterman.