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The Best Wiper Blades to Buy In 2020 | O'Reilly Auto Parts


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    • By Counterman
      Auto-Wares Group of Companies announced that Joe Stewart is its 2022 Technician of the Year.
      Stewart is the shop foreman at The Brighton Garage in Brighton, Michigan, an Auto Value Certified Service Center since April 2021.
      Every year, Auto-Wares chooses one technician from its Certified Service Center Network to represent the company at an all-expenses paid trip to the National Alliance Technician of the Year competition. This year, the competition will be held July 11-14 in Detroit.
      In 2021, the competition brought together 12 individuals from across North America, and 2022 is expected to bring together a similar number. Stewart and the other finalists will take a live custom ASE Technician of the Year exam, in which a winner will be determined based on the highest final test score. The trip also includes visits to the Henry Ford Museum and the Ford Rouge factory tour, and an opportunity to drive on the M1 Concourse track.
      Finalists were judged based on a combination of training hours attended, variety of education received, volunteer/extracurricular activity participation and passion for the industry, along with reference letters and letters of recommendations.
      “Tech of the Year brings out the best in our network each year,” said Dan Hosler, Certified Service Center program manager for Auto-Wares. “This year was no exception, and it didn’t take long to realize that Joe’s level of training, experience and professionalism is exactly what we are looking for.”
      The Brighton Garage is part of The Detroit Garage Auto Family, a group of industry-leading automotive repair shops, world-class technicians and a sales and support staff second to none, according to its website.
      “Joe is constantly growing and training as a technician and has been throughout his career,” said Daniel Groen, regional manager for The Detroit Garage. “He actively trains our new team members, pushing them to obtain professional success and pride with ASE certifications. This persistent pursuit of auto repair knowledge and growth is some of what sets Joe apart from his peers. Hybrid, electrical and diesel vehicles do not deter Joe from the industry but inspire him to gain the expertise to lead his facility – and someday multiple facilities – to the success this challenging industry can achieve.”
      Auto-Wares Group of Companies is a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based aftermarket automotive distribution company serving the Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin markets. Auto-Wares Group of
      Companies is a member of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance and does business under the Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper Part Stores name.
      Auto-Wares currently has more than 200 corporate-owned and nearly 100 independently owned part stores, and a network of more than 675 Certified Service Centers.
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    • By Counterman
      Advance Auto Parts and the Los Angeles Dodgers have announced an exclusive partnership, with Advance becoming the team’s official auto parts retailer.  
      Through the agreement, Advance will have a presence on in-stadium signage for all 2022 regular-season home games. The Dodgers’ marks will be represented in Advance stores throughout the Los Angeles market.
      Advance and the Dodgers also will collaborate on community activations, including the Dodgers’ Mexican Heritage games. Advance will serve as presenting sponsor for the day-night doubleheader on May 17. As part of the activation, fans attending either game will receive an exclusive Mexican Heritage Dodgers jersey with Advance branding.
      “Our goal is to align with winning organizations that share our commitment to serving communities,” said Jason McDonell, Advance’s executive vice president of merchandising, marketing and e-commerce. “The Dodgers have a longstanding tradition of excellence on the field and in the L.A. community and their fans are passionate about caring for their vehicles, making this partnership a home run. We look forward to serving L.A. area fans with quality parts and winning service while cheering the Dodgers as they look to advance towards another world championship.”
      “We’re excited to welcome Advance Auto Parts as our official auto parts retailer to our partnership family,” said Corey Norkin, senior vice president of global partnerships, Los Angeles Dodgers. “We look forward to helping them further their growth in Los Angeles and having them be a part of the very popular Mexican Heritage Night.”
      The partnership comes as Advance continues its growth in California and the Los Angeles market. The exclusive agreement includes rights for Carquest Auto Parts, an automotive parts retailer owned by Advance, to also serve as the team’s official auto parts retailer. Additionally, DieHard batteries, which are owned and sold by Advance and Carquest, will carry the designation as the Dodgers’ official car battery.
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    • By Counterman
      The Charles Dickens classic “A Tale of Two Cities” produced one of the most famous opening lines in all of literature: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … ”
      More than 150 years after “A Tale of Two Cities” was published, the phrase is an apt description of what life has been like for aftermarket suppliers, distributors and retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
      As Paul McCarthy, president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), kicked off the 2022 AASA Vision Conference in Dearborn, Michigan, he observed that the line “rings true in this age of uncertainty.”
      “It has been some of the hardest times to simply do our jobs – to just get our products to the customer – yet it has also been some of the greatest prosperity that the aftermarket has ever experienced,” McCarthy said.
      Stimulus-driven DIY sales have led to the best of times for the aftermarket’s publicly traded parts retailers, and they reported record growth in 2020 and 2021. At the same time, supply chain disruptions have made it challenging for some suppliers and distributors to get their hands on parts and raw materials.
      “Typically, part of our industry’s appeal is our slow, steady, reliable growth – our consistent cash-flow generation,” McCarthy said. “During the pandemic, we seem to have found another level of demand for our products. And we’ve also been in a battle for availability. The reality over the last two years is that if you could get the part to the customer, they would likely buy it.”
      While the past two years have been prosperous for many aftermarket participants, it’s also been the worst of times in the sense that the economy has been hit with “a flock of black swans.” Even before this once-in-a-century pandemic hit, the aftermarket was grappling with tariffs on imported Chinese goods  as well as the biggest changes to U.S. trade policies in decades.
      “We haven’t had a supply chain disruption of this magnitude for 75 years,” McCarthy said. “It’s been over 40 years since we’ve seen inflation like this. It’s been decades since we’ve seen a job market this tight. If that wasn’t enough, members tell us that we’ve experienced some of the highest levels of government intervention in the aftermarket, maybe in our history.”
      On top of that, there’s a land war in Europe, and U.S.-Sino relations are as tense as they’ve been in decades. Potential curveballs on the horizon include more interest-rate hikes, gas-price increases and the specter of Russian cyberattacks.
      Still, although it’s “an environment where it may not be easy for us,” it’s one “where we can do very well.”
      “Our ability – despite all these obstacles – to fill orders, to keep our businesses running, to sustain our teams, to work together up and down the value chain, it’s frankly amazing how well the aftermarket has performed,” McCarthy added. “It proves our resilience and our endurance. So don’t expect things to get any easier, but the aftermarket and aftermarket suppliers, we’ve shown that we matter.”
      A New Golden Age?
      Despite all the “bumps in the road,” McCarthy posed this question to AASA Vision attendees: “Is there a chance that these strong sales that we’ve seen are not a blip, that instead they are the start of a new golden age?”
      “The transformative cultural shifts that we’re seeing as a result of the pandemic, we think they bode well for the future of the aftermarket – that we are leaving the pandemic with a more auto-centric lifestyle than when we went into it,” McCarthy asserted.
      To buttress his point, he noted that used-car prices are higher than they’ve been since World War II; there are more than 280 million vehicles in operation in the United States; and the miles-driven recovery “has exceeded all forecasts.”  
      With commuters and travelers still fearful of mass transportation, “Americans are moving toward more car-centric locales and lifestyles,” he added.
      “We see it in consumers’ desire for more space. We see it in the house prices, in people moving to the West, to the South, to smaller cities, to exurbs. Coming out of COVID, where most Americans now seem to want to live, they need a car or a third or a fourth car. They need us, the aftermarket.”
      While technology might be a source of angst for some, “this unstoppable march of increasing vehicle content has been incredibly powerful for the aftermarket ticket,” McCarthy declared. “And we think that will continue.”
      And the increasing in-vehicle connectivity “is making our time in the car more entertaining, more productive, more appealing.”
      “We would argue that this is a global opportunity that the pandemic underscored to consumers around the world: the safety, the appeal of individual transport and the freedom that it brings. So we think we could look back in 2040, 2050, and say that this was the start of a new golden age of transportation. And we could say that we grabbed this opportunity and we created new ways forward.”
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