Several program distribution groups said that in 2016 the market continued to present challenges due to changes brought about by ongoing industry consolidation.
Market growth has been stymied by various economic conditions and has delayed some of the organic growth that was expected in 2016. Some say that there is cautious optimism for the future as the industry adjusts to a new administration in Washington D.C. and the prospect of a more business-friendly environment.
As the competitive landscape continues to change, program groups are looking for new and different ways to enhance brand value. All groups say they are working to profitably grow their businesses, and trying to balance service, quality, inventory and costs.
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Here are responses that some program groups provided to the question, “What were a few of your company’s key achievements in 2016?”
The AAM Group said its biggest accomplishment was the beginning of a project to be delivered in 2017. The AAM membership voted to build PACE, a business to business (B2B) web portal designed to provide cataloging, browsing and customer support capabilities for member warehouse distributors (WD). The PACE project will make B2B websites available to AAM members’ warehouses electing to participate and having compatible system communications capabilities.
These websites will serve as mobile-enabled, front-end web-based interfaces where WD customers can log in and access product cataloging, determine product availability, check their product cost, and enter orders into the WD’s business management system (BMS). PACE will not replace the warehouse’s BMS, but it will supplement it as the primary remote entry point for the warehouse’s wholesale customers. PACE is designed to provide AAM members with a modern customer experience engine that will reduce current friction in the ordering of aftermarket accessories.
AAM Group said its store count growth and influence grew significantly in 2016. “We increased our program reach of jobbers by 83 percent. Our email reach to jobber store personnel grew by 63 percent, and our direct to store mailing program grew our reach by 223 percent,” said President Tim Odom “Over 1,000 stores are now using AAM’s Digital Showcase as a point-of-sale catalog and product presentation resource.”
Automotive Parts Associates (APA) is one of three major program distribution groups in North America to be incorporated into NEXUS North America along with the Automotive Distribution Network and VIPAR Heavy Duty. NEXUS North America is the exclusive stockholder and representative of NEXUS Automotive International, a premiere international trade group headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
APA said in 2016 it upgraded its service dealer programs to include one of the industry’s leading offerings to attract more service dealer satisfaction and profitability.
APA also said it has grown and added members to its membership with a robust offering of member services and programs for its membership.
The Automotive Distribution Network said its involvement with Nexus has given it the opportunity to become more of a global group and has been “a great move.” Click here to read more about its relationship with Nexus. Expanding its membership, not only in the United States and Canada, but also into Mexico with product as well as marketing programs, also is yielding benefits for all members and shareholders, the company said.
One of NAPA’s key achievements in 2016 was the continued growth of its NAPA AutoCare membership, now at more than 16,500 members. NAPA AutoCare is a key offering for the independent installer and the company said it looks to grow this program further in 2017.
The Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance’s Fred Bunting, founder and chairman of Auto-Wares Group of Companies received the AWDA 2016 Jack Creamer Automotive Leader of the Year Award. Auto-Wares is a full-line, full-service, full-program distributor servicing more than 750 jobbers. The company employs more than 1,800 people who together operate 336 Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper stores and 800 Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Certified Service Centers. Bunting has served on the Alliance Board of Directors for more than 30 years.
The Alliance was recognized with the AWDA Pursuit of Excellence Award in recognition of becoming the first program group to hold its convention in conjunction with Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas. “Holding our 2015 Aftermarket Jackpot Convention in Las Vegas in conjunction with AAIW was a venture that paid off,” said Alliance CEO and President John R. Washbish.
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