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February 2013

We speak to the leaders to get their perspectives.

Also, sell more: 䡲 Exhaust 䡲 Catalytic Converters 䡲 Gaskets 䡲 Ignition Wire Sets 䡲 Lighting 䡲 Timing Belts

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INSIDE

February Volume 31, No. 2

features Cover Story

By Mark Phillips

An emphasis on commercial is a way of life for super stores. ........................................

Tech Features

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By Larry Carley

The catalytic converter is the big-ticket item in the exhaust system. ........

22 Find the right gasket for the job. ................ 24

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Spark plug wires are designed to be durable. ................................................ Lighting the way.

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Mechanic Connection

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By Gary Goms

Modern “three-way” OBD II catalytic converters contain several different catalysts. ........................................................ Timing belts remain a significant profit center ..................................................

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columns Editor’s Ink

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By Mark Phillips ....................................................

A work-around is not a solution.

From The Publisher

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By S. Scott Shriber ......................

How are you going to stay on top?

Keeping It Simple

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By Gerald Wheelus ........................

Make time for education.

Counter-tech

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By Mandy Aguilar........................................

Kickstarter is not a repair.

Allen & Allan

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By Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber ......

Succession planning is not as easy as you might think. COUNTERMAN (ISSN 0739-3695) (February 2013 Volume 31, Number 2): Copyright 2013 Babcox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved: Published monthly by Babcox, 3550 Embassy Parkway, Akron, OH 44333 U.S.A. Phone (330) 670-1234, Fax (330) 670-0874. Periodical postage paid at Akron, OH 44333 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to COUNTERMAN, 3550 Embassy Parkway, Akron, OH 44333-8318. A limited number of complimentary subscriptions are available to individuals who meet the qualification requirements. Call (330) 670-1234, Ext. 275, to speak to a subscription services representative or FAX us at (330) 670-5335. Paid Subscriptions are available for non-qualified subscribers at the following rates: U.S.: $69. Samples and back issues - Domestic - $10, International/via air mail $15. Canada: $89 for one year, $149 for two years. Canadian rates include GST. Ohio residents add 5.75% sales tax. Other foreign rates/via air mail: $129 for one year. Payable in advance in U.S. funds. Mail payment to COUNTERMAN, P.O. Box 75692, Cleveland, OH 44101-4755. Visa, MasterCard or American Express accepted.

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departments 10

Aftermarket News......................................................................................

Aftermarket News presents news, views and analysis of current trends and events in aftermarket distribution.

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NASCAR Performance ............................................................................

This monthly special section takes you behind the scenes of this fast-growing sport.

MarketPlace ..................................................................................................

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Every month, MarketPlace showcases the newest automotive product and service innovations your customers are asking about!

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Classifieds ........................................................................................................

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PUBLISHER

S. Scott Shriber 330-670-1234, ext. 229 sshriber@babcox.com EDITORIAL

Mark Phillips, Editor 330-670-1234, Ext. 299 mphillips@babcox.com Amy Antenora, Editor, aftermarketNews Managing Editor, Counterman 330-670-1234, Ext. 220 aantenora@babcox.com Larry Carley, Technical Editor lcarley@babcox.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Mandy Aguilar, Columnist Gary Goms, Commercial Accounts Gerald Wheelus, Columnist Allen Markowitz, Columnist Allan Gerber, Columnist Jerry King, Cartoonist GRAPHIC DESIGN

Lisa DiPaolo, Graphic Designer 330-670-1234 , Ext. 281 ldipaolo@babcox.com ADVERTISING SERVICES

Tina Purnell Advertising Services Manager 330-670-1234 , Ext. 243 tpurnell@babcox.com CIRCULATION SERVICES Brad Mitchell, Director of eMedia & Audience Development 330-670-1234 , Ext. 277 bmitchell@babcox.com Pat Robinson, Circulation Manager 330-670-1234, Ext. 276 probinson@babcox.com Ellen Mays, Circulation Specialist 330-670-1234, Ext. 275 emays@babcox.com CORPORATE Bill Babcox, President Greg Cira, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Stankard, Vice President Beth Scheetz, Controller

ADVERTISING SALES REPRESENTATIVES HOME OFFICE: 3550 Embassy Parkway Akron, OH 44333-8318 330-670-1234 FAX 330-670-0874 Bill Babcox bbabcox@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 217

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PUBLISHER: S. Scott Shriber sshriber@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 229 SALES REPRESENTATIVES: Dean Martin dmartin@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 225

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Jim Merle jmerle@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 280

Sean Donohue sdonohue@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 206

Roberto Almenar ralmenar@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 233

John Zick jzick@babcox.com 949-756-8835

Glenn Warner gwarner@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 212

CLASSIFIED SALES: Tom Staab tstaab@babcox.com 330-670-1234, ext. 224

Edward S. Babcox (1885-1970) Founder Tom B. Babcox (1919-1995) Chairman Founded 1983. Copyright 2013 Babcox Media, Inc., All Rights Reserved COUNTERMAN (ISSN-0739-3695) is published monthly by Babcox Media, 3550 Embassy Pkwy., Akron, OH 44333. Periodical postage paid at Akron, OH and additional mailing offices. Member, BPA International

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DITOR’S INK

The process, from start to finish, takes about three minutes...This store sells about 15 copies of the newspaper a day. So a day’s worth of newspapers adds up to about 45 minutes of wasted time each day.

By Mark Phillips

A Work-Around Is Not A Solution work-around is not a solution, especially if it’s done repeatedly. There’s a particular business newspaper I buy from time to time at a grocery store. It never fails: I always buy at the automated checkout and the newspaper is never entered into their system. Every other paper is, but not this one. Each time I buy (er, try to buy), an employee has to leave their post to walk over to my checkout stand, slide an ID card, punch in a bunch of numbers, scan my newspaper and type some more numbers. The same thing happens if I buy in line from a cashier. The process, from start to finish, takes about three minutes. It might not seem like much, however, this grocery store sells about 15 copies of the newspaper a day. So a day’s worth of newspapers adds up to about 45 minutes of wasted time each day. (Thankfully, the paper only comes out six days a week!) Each time this happens, I politely tell the employee (a different one each time) that if they would just enter the newspa-

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per’s bar code into their system, this wouldn’t happen and they wouldn’t be wasting their time every time someone buys it. This insane workaround process has played out for about the past four years. (You’d think I’d give up.) The grocery store is part of a multi-store chain. Guess what happens when I try to buy the paper in another county? Same thing. No matter where it happens, the employee seems very apathetic toward the time being wasted, even after I explain that this has happened countless times. After all, if they weren’t attending to this newspaper snafu, they’d just be doing something else in the store, right? They’re getting paid either way. It’s gotten to the point where I either buy at another store or buy the paper on my Kindle. I save money — the Kindle version is 50 cents, versus the $2 paper version price — and I spare myself the hassle of dealing with this workaround. Watching this kind of inefficiency and knowing that I’ve tried to help them correct it, is maddening, to say the least. Does buying something have to be this hard? CM

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For more information: www.counterman.com

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AFTERMARKET NEWS Automotive Parts Associates Names Gary Martin as Executive Vice President

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LENEXA, Kan. – APA has hired Gary Martin as executive vice president. Martin will be responsible for maximizing APA’s operating performance and overseeing APA’s strategic plan. He will be working to further integrate member and vendor participation in APA’s data warehouse. Public relations and training will be key components of his new position. Martin will be based at APA’s headquarters in Lenexa, Kan., Gary Martin and will report directly to Dan Freeman, president & CEO. Martin brings more than 18 years of experience in the automotive aftermarket, having worked in sales for CARDONE Industries since 1994. At CARDONE Industries, Martin had dual responsibility as director of traditional market sales for Canada and as director of program distribution sales for North America. In these roles, Martin worked directly with APA and its shareholders on a regular basis. Prior to CARDONE Industries, Martin was general manager for Four M Corp. and Gaylord Container. “Martin has a proven track record as a strategist who will also be a great fit with our group’s culture. We are excited about the contributions he will make in his role by integrating his strong background to further drive APA’s success,” Freeman said.

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Guess the Car Win $100! This Month’s Puzzle

#61 What vehicle MODEL does this picture represent? If you think you know the answer, go to www.counterman.com and click “Guess the Car” on the nav bar. Submit your answer and contact information. A winner will be randomly selected by the Counterman staff from all correct answers. The deadline to enter is March 5. The winner’s name will appear in the next issue. Stay tuned!

Last Month’s Correct Answer:

#60 Rampage Congrats to Donna Moon, Warrenton, Mo.

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AFTERMARKET NEWS

National Pronto Association Adds Papco As Newest Member GRAPEVINE, Texas – National Pronto Association has announced the addition of PAPCO (PacificOcean Auto Parts Co.) to the Pronto membership, effective Jan. 1. PAPCO was founded 15 years ago and is a distributor of Motorcraft, ACDelco, Mopar and other aftermarket parts and accessories to the Northern California Bay Area.

O’Reilly Automotive Opens Its 4,000th Store

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – O’Reilly Automotive celebrated the opening of its 4,000th store, located in Tampa, Fla., by hosting a daylong celebration of philanthropy, community and customers, on Saturday, Jan. 19. The community was invited to join the celebration, which began with the Tampa Chamber of Commerce overseeing a celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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Over the Counter By Jerry King

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AFTERMARKET NEWS

Parts Plus has reached an agreement to remain the primary sponsor of Top Fuel driver Clay Millican for a third straight NHRA season,

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according to Mike Lambert, president of the Automotive Distribution Network.

Goodpoint Autoparts Brake Wear Sensors Selected For Federated Co-Man Warehouse Program TABOR CITY, N.C. – DMA Goodpoint, an aftermarket supplier of electronic brake pad wear sensors, has been selected by Federated Auto Parts as a new distributor for the Federated Co-Man Warehouse Program. The Federated Co-Man Warehouse, located in Staunton, Va., was founded in 1999 and is jointly owned by Federated members. The announcement was made by Mark Harritan, director of distributor sales at DMA Goodpoint, who noted that Goodpoint Autoparts brake wear sensors offers a unique opportunity for Federated members to provide a high-quality sensor at an affordable price. Vehicle coverage includes: Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Dodge, Jaguar, Lexus, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Porsche and Volkswagen. DMA Goodpoint (Direct Market Access Inc.) DMA also is the exclusive North American partner of SENSEN Shocks & Struts. All DMA Goodpoint products are made in ISO-certified facilities to the same quality standards as the OE parts supplied to automakers worldwide. The latest application coverage can be found in the online catalog at www.dmagoodpoint.com.

The annual KOI Auto Parts-

Federated Auto Parts Cavalcade of Customs and Training Expo held Jan. 11-13 in Cincinnati, Ohio, was reported to be a “huge success,” according to KOI. The event saw record-setting attendance, with 550 KOI customers participating in more than 100 training sessions. 14

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AFTERMARKET NEWS

During the holiday season, VIP Parts, Tires & Service successfully completed its fifth annual campaign in conjunction with Make-A-Wish. Every VIP store participated in this seasonal program promoting donations to Make-A-Wish that raised $36,762 in 2012. Pictured here from left to right: Adam Dunbar, member of Make-A-Wish Board of Directors; John Quirk, president and CEO of VIP Parts, Tires & Service; Tom Peaco, executive director of Make-A-Wish Maine; Tim Winkeler, COO of VIP Parts, Tires & Service

DENSO To Invest Nearly $1 Billion In North America Over Next Four Years

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Global automotive supplier DENSO is investing nearly $1 billion in North America over the next four years, which will result in more than 2,000 jobs across the region. The investment will allow DENSO to better support its North American customers, as well as expand new business areas and localize products, many of which will help automakers meet upcoming fuel requirements. More than $750 million will be invested in the United States alone, along with more than 1,200 jobs, according to DENSO. “Last year, we announced that DENSO will drastically localize product in the regions in which we operate,” said Terry Helgesen, senior vice president of industry relations at DENSO International America Inc. “Not only are we making products in North America, but we’re also localizing critical tooling.” In the U.S., DENSO is looking at investing more than $750 million in Michigan, Tennessee, Iowa, California and North Carolina. The investment represents an increase in research and development, an expansion in existing production lines, the creation of new production lines and the opening a new assembly and warehouse facility to support its heavy-duty customers.

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AFTERMARKET NEWS

Federated Partnership With Toys For Tots Deemed A ‘Huge Success’ STAUNTON, Va. – In its first-year partnership with the Marine Toys for Tots campaign, Federated and its participating members raised $140,000 and collected more than 4,000 toys. “We could not be more pleased with how well our partnership with Toys for Tots turned out,” said Mike Schultz of Federated Auto Parts. “We want to thank our members who led this highly successful effort. The money and toys collected resulted in the equivalent of 15,000 toys donated to children in need throughout the country.” As part of its Toys for Tots partnership, participating Federated members collected donations and toys at their stores and some conducted contests for their customers as a way to thank them for their donations. In addition, financial contributions were accepted at the Federated Toys for Tots microsite (www.federatedautoparts.com/ToysforTots.aspx), which links directly to the Toys for Tots website.

Automotive Parts Headquarters Presents Outstanding Supplier Awards

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Automotive Parts Headquarters Inc. (APH), a Minnesota-based aftermarket auto parts distributor and store group, recognized outstanding supplier achievements from 2012 with all of its store owners, managers and salespeople present at the group’s annual Winter Conference Jan. 20 at From left to right, are: John Bartlett, CEO Cragun’s Resort and Hotel in Brain- of Automotive Parts Headquarters; Rich erd, Minn. The employee-owners of Vierkant, vice president of APH helped determine recipients of merchandising at Automotive Parts Headquarters; Doug Kubinak, vice the supplier awards, which were president of sales at East Penn presented by John Bartlett, CEO, Manufacturing; Mark Hoffman, sales and Corey Bartlett, president. manager at East Penn Manufacturing; “Strong partnerships, like the and Corey Bartlett, president of ones we have with Dorman, StanAutomotive Parts Headquarters. dard Motor Products, FederalMogul and East Penn, are essential for our continued growth,” said Corey Bartlett. “We really appreciate the significant efforts these companies put forward to help us grow our business, and we’re delighted to once again celebrate their accomplishments.” The Bartletts presented the following awards: Northstar Award for new business opportunities, Dorman Products; Outstanding Training Support, Standard Motor Products; Outstanding Technology Support, Dorman Products; Outstanding Marketing Support, Federal-Mogul; Outstanding Sales Support, East Penn; and 2012 Supplier of the Year, East Penn. 18

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TECH TIPS The Brake Upsell:

GM Acadia / Buick / Outlook / Enclave he Lambda Platform is shared with the Chevrolet Traverse, Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave. It is largely derived from the GM Epsilon platform, the same platform that makes the Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac G6. These vehicles can be front- or all-wheel drive. All models have the same rear disc brake setup with the parking brake in the hat of the rotor. There are many opportunities to sell the technicians and consumers additional parts and supplies for the brake job.

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Pads The pads are retained in the bracket with anti-rattle clips. To release the pad from the clip, there are tabs at the ends of pad that are depressed to release the pad. These clips are typically damaged when the pads are removed; recommend new hardware or a premium pad set that includes these items.

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Calipers The caliper bracket bolts on this vehicle use high-strength thread lock-

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er to hold it in place (it is the “red stuff”). The technician should clean the old thread locker material off the threads with denatured alcohol solvent before putting new thread locker on. The guide pins need to be lubricated. If the previous technician did not seat the boot in the grooves of the caliper bracket and guide pin, they will need a new hardware set. If you are selling them new or reman calipers, make sure the new units have phenolic pistons. TSB: What if the booster does not feel right? If the brake booster activates excessively or if excessive effort of the brake pedal is consistently required, Hydraulic Brake Booster “HBB” calibration may be needed. To do this, it will require a scan tool with the right software. The procedure is simple and requires pressing the brake and gas in the right sequence. Rotors Front: Min thickness: 27.5 mm (1.08”) Rear: Min thickness: 18.4 mm (0.72”) CM

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ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Catalytic Converters Are Big-Ticket Items he hot topic here is catalytic converters. The converter is the big ticket item in the exhaust system. Every vehicle sold in the U.S. since 1975 has one or more converters in its exhaust systems, and every vehicle since 1996 is equipped with a special “OBD” certified converter that reduces pollution even more. Original equipment converters are supposed to last upward of 150,000 miles or more, but may fail sooner for a number of reasons. Catalyst contamination is a biggie, and the reason for that is that the engine may be burning oil. Oil contains zinc and phosphorus wear additives (called ZDDP), which can foul the catalyst. That’s why the level of ZDDP has been drasti-

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cally reduced in newer motor oils. Converters also can be damaged by severe overheating, which is often the result of ignition misfiring or a leaky exhaust valve. Most motorists don’t know their converter has reached the end of the road until their vehicle fails an emissions test. A Check Engine light with a P0420 or P0430 fault code (catalyst efficiency fault) is usually a sure indication the converter needs to be replaced. New original equipment converters are covered by an 8year/80,000-mile federal emissions warranty, or up to 15 years/150,000 miles on some California hybrid vehicles. Once a converter is out of warranty, it can be replaced with an aftermarket converter. The re-

placement must be the same type as the original, and OBD compliant if it is for a 1996 or newer vehicle. Aftermarket converters have a 2year/24,000-mile warranty. California also has its own special requirements and rules for catalytic converters. For vehicles registered within the state of California, a replacement converter must be CA-certified with an C.A.R.B number stamped on the converter shell. For CA vehicles that are outside of California, a 49state OBD II converter is an acceptable replacement. For older high-mileage vehicles that may have problems meeting emissions, some aftermarket replacement converters are available with catalysts that contain a special blend of metals or an extra thick layer of metals so the converter can safely handle higher levels of pollutants. This can help keep the Check Engine light off so the vehicle will meet emissions for a longer period of time. Related items a customer may need when replacing a converter include clamps and gaskets, possibly new pipe hangers, the adjoining pipes (head pipe and exhaust pipe), a new “downstream” oxygen sensor (which monitors the operation of the catalyst) and replacement heat shields if the original shields are rusted, damaged or missing. CM ■ ■ ■

For more on catalytic converters, see page 30.

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Track Talk All Eyes on New Gen-6 Car for NASCAR Sprint Cup in Daytona

watching it on TV or watching it at the track.” fact is in 2013 we have coolExcitement is building for F r o m NASCAR fans and competitors er cars.” While NASCAR’s Car of brand idenalike for the start of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series sea- Tomorrow served its purpose of tity to where son – and in particular, the providing a safer car for drivers to see driver debut of the new Sixth- over the past several years, fans n a m e s , called for more exciting, side- here's the Generation Car. “The car has really awesome by-side racing. Manufacturers l o w d o w n potential,” commented Dale needed to return to a stock on the five The new Sprint Cup cars look more like their road-going Earnhardt Jr. during a test ses- option with deeper character things every counterparts yet retain the safety features NASCAR has fan developed over the past few years. lines and brand identity. And race sion last month. Indeed, the development competitors desired a model s h o u l d 3. Slim and Trim: The total and design of the latest that would not only even the know about the Gen-6 car: 1. Brand Identity: Gen-6 weight of the car has been NASCAR Sprint Cup Series playing field, but produce a cars more closely resemble reduced by 160 lbs. (100 less racecar continues a robust tra- good show. Over the past two years, those found on the showroom on right side; 60 lbs. on left). dition of styling that dates back to the earliest days of the sport. NASCAR and its partners have floor, with eye-catching body- The minimum weight of the Fans will instantaneously worked diligently to satisfy lines and stylish features giving driver has also decreased each model its distinctive from 200 to 180 lbs. notice the differences in the those needs. 4. Stamp of Approval: With “The car is a really good- appearance. brand individuality of each 2. Safety Enhancements: the exception of the carbon looking car,” said veteran driver Gen-6 car. “You’ll stand there and see Jeff Burton. “A lot of effort has Additions of forward roof bar fiber rear deck lid, all body panFords and Toyotas and gone into making these cars so and center roof support bar to els are now produced by the Chevrolets driving by,” contin- that we will have better races. the roll cage reinforce integrity manufacturer and individually ued Earnhardt Jr. “It’s great I’m really excited about that and increase the crush structure stamped for verification. 5. Your Name Here: Driver because everything looks differ- because I think, at the end of the of the roof. Larger roof flaps ent, yet everything is instantly day, that is the cornerstone of improve liftoff numbers and names will be featured on the this sport. It’s an exciting day at decrease the likelihood of the upper portion of the windrecognizable.” shield; sponsor decals and car Optimism is high in the the race track whether you are car becoming airborne. numbers have been NASCAR garage surroundremoved from headlight and ing the new racecar’s look, taillight areas and now innovative technology and appear on front and rear on-track performance. bumpers; also, a single spon“This car is the perfect sor logo will be permitted on example of technology the roof of the cars. helping our sport,” said The Gen-6 car will debut Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief at The Sprint Unlimited Steve Letarte. “I think we (Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. on FOX, now have three makes MRN Radio and SiriusXM), out here that my little followed by the 55th runboy at 9 years old ning of the Daytona 500 can tell the difference (Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. on FOX, between. If you’re into racing, you want to watch The next generation of NASCAR racecars continues a robust tradition of styling MRN Radio, SiriusXM). Visit cool cars go around the that dates back to the earliest days of the sport. Fans will instantaneously notice www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com for tickets. track. I think the simple the differences in the brand individuality of each Gen-6 car. Follow NASCAR Performance on Twitter and Facebook www.twitter.com/NASCARauto ■ www.facebook.com/NASCARPerformance

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ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Choose The Right Gasket For The Job askets are typically replaced when repair work involves engine disassembly (removing valve covers, intake manifolds, oil pans, timing covers or cylinder heads), or when an engine devel-

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ops an oil, coolant or vacuum leak. Selling your customer some type of gasket set is usually the best way to make sure he gets all of the gaskets, seals and other parts that may be required for a particular job, but you also can sell individual gaskets, too. Gaskets come in a wide variety of materials and designs, so there is often confusion as to which brand of gasket or which type of gasket is “best” for a given application. The best gasket is the one that fits correctly, seals without leaking and maintains that seal for the longest time. One aftermarket gasket manufacturer may use a different material, coating, design or type of construction from that of another manufacturer for the same application. Either gasket may work equally well — provided both are made with high-quality materials and are properly engineered for that application. But in recent years, an influx of “copy cat” gaskets and gaskets

made with lower quality materials has invaded the aftermarket. Many of these lesser quality gaskets are made with materials that take a compression set and lose their ability to maintain a leak-free seal over time. That, in turn, leads to consumer complaints, comebacks and loss of confidence in the products you are selling. The solution is simple enough: recommend brands that are committed to producing quality products that are properly engineered and made with the highest-quality materials. Yes, top-quality gaskets may cost more, but your customer gets more for his money. He gets a gasket that fits and lasts and won’t fail anytime soon. Molded valve cover, oil pan and intake manifold gaskets are commonly used on many late-model engines. Some of these have plastic or steel carriers for reinforcement and to make installation easier. These gaskets are supposed to be long-lived, so it is important that they experience the least possible compression set (say no more than 15 to 20 percent). Yet some cheap-quality gaskets experience a 40 to 60 percent (or higher) compression set. One tip you can pass along to your customers is that molded rubber gaskets should be installed DRY. Some may require a small dab or RTV sealer in the corners to seal a seam, but use of RTV on molded rubber gaskets or coated gaskets should be avoided because it will only cause problems. CM

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ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Ignition Wires Are Made To Last lthough Coil-On-Plug (COP) ignition systems have proliferated in recent years, most older vehicles have some type of Distributorless Ignition Systems (DIS) or a distributor with spark plug wires. On engines that do have ignition cables, most of the later model application wire sets are spiralwound stainless steel mag wire. This type of construction has less internal resistance than carbon-core wires (only about 500 ohms/foot versus 5,000 ohms/foot with carboncore wire) and uses inductance rather than resistance to suppress radio frequency interference (RFI). The result is a hotter spark with less voltage load on the ignition system. Mag wire can be recommended as an upgrade for older carbon core wires. Some European imports use Fixed Resistor plug wires, which have a steel or copper metallic core with a fixed resistor in the plug boot to control RFI. Spark plug wire sets do not have a factory recommended service interval and are usually replaced on an “as needed� basis. Even so, many technicians recommend replacing high-mileage spark plug wire sets for preventive maintenance. This is typically done when

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the spark plugs are replaced at 100,000 miles. Though spark plug wires are designed to be long-lasting and durable, they can be damaged by chaffing, burning, mishandling and

aging of the insulation and conductor (in the case of carbon core wiring). Any damage that allows the spark to jump from the wire to ground or increases resistance can cause a spark plug to misfire. Ignition misfire will usually set a misfire code on an OBD II engine and turn on the Check Engine light. And, if a vehicle has a misfire problem because of one or more

bad plug wires, it won’t pass an OBD II emissions test and it will suffer a loss of fuel economy and performance. When one or more plug wires are showing signs of deterioration or are causing a misfire, the entire set should be replaced. Replacement is needed if the internal resistance in a cable exceeds specifications (as measured end-to-end with an ohmmeter), the cable is damaged (cracked or burned insulation, or visible arcing or misfiring when the engine is running), or the plug boots or terminals fit poorly or are loose. Replacement cables must be the same diameter (7mm or 8mm) and the same length as the original to fit properly, but do not necessarily have to be the same type of wire (mag wire or suppression wire) as the original wire set. In fact, mag wire is often recommended as an upgrade for applications that were originally equipped with carbon core suppression wire. Premium wire sets typically use a high-temperature insulation such as silicone or EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer). Less expensive wire sets typically use insulation that has less temperature resistance, so they tend to be less durable. CM

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ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Lighting The Way:

LEDs Are Replacing Conventional Bulbs he latest trend in automotive lighting is LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights. LED lights use an entirely different technology to produce visible light. Conventional incandescent bulbs and headlamps contain a tungsten filament inside a sealed glass bulb. Current flowing through the filament heats it up to around 4,000 degrees F causing it

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to glow brightly and give off light. This generates a lot of waste heat and is not very efficient at producing light. To prevent the filament from burning up, the air inside the bulb is evacuated and replaced with an inert gas such as argon. With halogen bulbs, the gas also contain traces of iodine or bromine. This allows the filament to burn brighter and produce

more light and whiter light. Traces of xenon may also be added to the gas, or the bulb may be tinted with a special coating to give the light a more bluish cast like that of HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlights. The problem with conventional incandescent bulbs and halogen headlights is that they use too much current for the light they produce and they give off a lot of waste heat. The bulbs also have a limited lifespan (around 1,000 hours or so), and the filament can break from vibration or being jolted. HID headlights are about 2X as efficient as halogen headlights so they use much less current. But they do require a very high initial starting voltage (up to 25,000 volts!), which requires adding a special ballast and control electronics to the headlight circuitry. HID headlights do not contain a filament and use an electrical arc passing through a gas inside a high-temperature bulb to generate light. Because there is no filament to break or burn out, HID headlamps typically last 2X to 5X longer than ordinary headlamps. The downside is HID bulbs are expensive to replace. LED lights are solid state diodes. They have no bulb or filament and contain no gasses. When current flows through the diode, it excites the material and generates light. LEDs are 4X more efficient than standard bulbs at converting current to light, and they produce much less heat than incandescent bulbs or HID headlamps. LEDs are also extremely long-lived (10,000 plus hours). But until recently, their light output has not been great enough for use in headlights CM

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ECHANIC CONNECTION By Gary Goms, commercial accounts editor

Catalytic Converters eginning in 1996, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated that a new set of emissions standards known to our industry as On-Board Diagnostics II or “OBD II.” The new 1996 OBD II standard included a mandated onboard diagnostic “catalyst monitor” designed to test the catalytic converter’s efficiency during vehicle operation. When the converter’s efficiency falls below a predetermined threshold of approximately 95 percent, the PCM stores a P0420 and/or P0430 diagnostic trouble code (DTC) and illuminates the orange “Check Engine” warning light.

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Catalytic Converter Construction In brief, a catalyst is an element that initiates a chemical change without itself undergoing chemical change. Modern “three-way” OBD II catalytic converters contain several different catalysts in a ceramic honeycombed substrate designed to expose the maximum area of catalyst while reducing exhaust restriction to zero. Three-way converters are expen-

sive because they use precious metals like platinum to oxidize exhaust feed gases like carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons like raw gasoline (HC) into carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). Metals like Rhodium are used to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOX), which are formed under extremes of heat and pressure in the engine’s cylinders, into their component elements of nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O2). The tailpipe gases exiting the converter are a harmless mix of water, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen. The Catalyst Monitor The OBD II catalyst monitor measures the catalyst efficiency by comparing voltage output from oxygen sensors located upstream and downstream from the catalyst. A conventional upstream oxygen sensor rapidly switches between .2 and .8 volts, which indicate normal fuel control. If the catalytic converter is oxidizing and reducing exhaust feed gases efficiently, the downstream oxygen sensor should generate a steady voltage ranging from .5 to .7 volts. Continued on page 34

Identical voltage ranges on the upstream and downstream oxygen sensors indicate that the catalytic converter isn’t operating The honeycombed substrate of this catalytic converter inlet is badly due to inadequate warm-up or degraded clogged. catalyst. 30

February 2013 | Counterman

MARKETPLACE › visit www.counterman.com/ASAP for reader service Spectra Premium Launches New Line Of Oxygen Sensors Spectra Premium, a brand focused on fuel delivery and products engineered to increase overall fuel system efficiency, has introduced a new line of oxygen sensors. The new Spectra Premium Oxygen Sensor line consists of more than 350 new, highquality part numbers and provides coverage for both early- and late-model import and domestic applications. Spectra’s offering provides coverage on 95 percent of customer sales.

Bar’s Leaks Introduces Cooling System Repair The newest easy-to-use, low-cost vehicle solution from Bar’s Leaks is formulated to offer multiple benefits for engine cooling systems. Bar’s Leaks Cooling System Repair not only stops coolant leaks and antifreeze loss, it also prevents overheating and corrects other cooling system problems to protect against future breakdowns and costly cooling system repairs. Bar’s Leaks Cooling System Repair (P/N 1150) works in all gasoline, diesel and turbocharged engines. It may be used with all types and colors of antifreeze and/or water. Like all Bar’s Leaks products, Cooling System Repair is made in the U.S.A. It is available to distribution in case packs of four 16.9 oz. bottles.

Eastern Catalytic Expands ECO CARB Line Eastern Catalytic has added new converters to its ECO CARB Series line with new California Air Resources Board (CARB) exemptions for use as aftermarket replacements. The converters are available in Universal and Direct-fit configurations for OBD II and pre-OBD II California vehicles. They are designed to fit right and work right, first time, every time, and are covered by Eastern’s 50,000mile warranty. The latest application coverage is available at Eastern’s online California Converter Applications catalog, and in a new 300-page CARB catalog. The online catalog can be found on the new Eastern Catalytic website at www.easterncatalytic.com.

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ECHANIC CONNECTION By Gary Goms, commercial accounts editor

Timing Belts Remain In Demand lthough many auto manufacturers are now using timing chains in their engines to synchronize camshaft-to-crankshaft timing, timing belts and related accessory replacements remain a significant profit center for your professional technician. Nevertheless, timing belt replacements require the mechanical aptitude, tooling, information, and experience to correctly install the new belt and accessories. Because the consumer fleet is now approaching an average 11 years of age, replacement timing belts will continue to be high-demand stocking item for the average jobber store.

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Timing Belt Functions The intake valves on most conventional four-cycle internal combustion engines open slightly before the piston approaches top dead center (TDC) and close slightly after bottom dead center (BDC) during the first cycle of piston travel. Similarly, the exhaust valves open slightly before BDC and close slightly after TDC during the second cycle of piston travel. For maximum engine performance, each

This engine is receiving a new water pump and timing belt pulley along with a new timing belt. 32

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valve timing event must be perfectly synchronized with piston travel. In addition, a small timing belt might also be used for synchronizing an accessory drive or balance shaft with the engine’s crankshaft in some applications. When the cogs on a timing belt shear away due to normal fatigue or due to the camshafts seizing in the cylinder heads, the camshaft will no longer be synchronized to the crankshaft. Due to the lack of synchronization, the intake and exhaust valves will bend when they collide with the pistons on valveinterference engines. On the other hand, no damage will be done on non-interference engines because the valves can’t mechanically contact the pistons. Failure Patterns Timing belts, which are made of rubber molded with fiberglass or Kevlar fibers, are expendable parts with a predictable service life. Although early timing belts lasted approximately 40,000-60,000 miles, modern belts have service lives that often extend beyond 100,000 miles. Appearance is no indicator of remaining belt life. Although a timing belt might visually appear to be in good condition, it could be nearing the end of its service life. For that reason, most auto manufacturers recommend specific belt replacement intervals. “The majority of engines manufactured with a timing belt are interference engines. This is why it is imperative to follow OE replacement intervals,” said David Riggs, senior product manager of timing products for Dayco Products. “The life of newly replaced timing belt can be reduced by as much as 50

percent if worn components are not replaced at the same time as the timing belt.” Premature timing belt failures generally occur because the belt is soaked with engine oil or because the belt was installed with the wrong belt tension. Insufficient tension can result in a knocking noise caused by the loose timing belt slapping the timing cover. In contrast, excessive tension will cause the belt to whine at lower engine speeds and cause premature idle pulley and water pump bearing wear. Fortunately, most modern engines incorporate belt tensioners that automatically apply correct tensioning pressure to the timing belt. Required Tools Application-specific service information is vital for aligning the tim-

Not replacing this idler bearing proved to be a fatal mistake on this Subaru timing belt replacement.

ing marks located on the engine timing belt cover with the camshaft and crankshaft drive sprockets. Remember that some timing belts, like those used on early Nissan 3.0liter engines, have the timing marks printed on the belt itself. The information should also list

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MECHANIC CONNECTION any special tooling and the correct torque specifications for the very critical camshaft and crankshaft and camshaft retaining bolts. Some engines might also require special wrenches and other tooling for timing belt replacements. Dual over-head camshaft engines might also require a special tool to hold both camshafts in place while the timing belt is installed. An accurate torque wrench in the 15-100 foot-pound range is required to accurately torque accessories into place while a torque wrench in the 0-250 foot-pound range is required to correctly torque the crankshaft harmonic balancer in place. Related Parts As preventive maintenance, many professional shops recommend replacing the camshaft and crankshaft oil seals plus the idler and tensioner pulleys. The water pump or any other sealed-bearing timing belt-driven accessory should also be replaced. It’s also good practice to replace all external drive belts and, if the radiator must be removed, replace the radiator and all related coolant hoses as required. CM Catalytic Converters continued from page 30 To calculate catalyst efficiency, the PCM compares the upstream switching rate with the downstream switching rate of the two oxygen sensors. Because newer systems equipped with upstream air fuel ratio (AFR) sensors don’t react to exhaust gas oxygen the same way, the PCM uses a slightly different strategy to measure catalyst efficiency. In either case, deterioration of the catalyst is indicated when the upstream and downstream oxygen sensor voltages begin to duplicate each other.

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Catalytic Converter Failures In any case, the catalyst monitoring software contained within the PCM is the final arbiter of the efficiency of any post-1996 catalytic converter. Since an OBD II catalyst is a wearing part, most catalytic converters generally begin to fail at 120,000 miles or more. In contrast, most premature catalyst failures are caused by misfiring ignition systems, which cause an excessive amount of raw gasoline to be fed into the exhaust gas stream. During a severe ignition misfire, the catalyst temperature exceeds 1,500 degrees F. temperature, which causes the catalyst to melt. In many cases, the melted catalyst reduces engine performance by restricting the flow of exhaust gases from the engine. In other instances of premature failure, the catalyst is generally coated with chemicals like phosphorous from engine oil or coolant leaking into the exhaust stream. In this case, the engine will perform well, but the catalyst will fail the efficiency test. CM 34

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An Emphasis On Commercial A Way Of Life For Super Stores Each year, Counterman magazine takes a snapshot of the retail stores that serve the automotive aftermarket. By Mark Phillips

n addition to our annual list of super stores and the data points derived from them, we spoke to Bo Fisher, CEO of Fisher Auto Parts, and Donna Broome, senior vice president, commercial, for Advance Auto Parts, to get their impressions of the year ahead.

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Bo Fisher, CEO Fisher Auto Parts The most recent “Aftermarket Supplier Barometer” survey conducted by the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), notes that 40 percent of AASA’s full-service aftermarket manufacturers said the outlook for their business declined last quarter, while only 22 percent said it improved. What is your outlook for 2013 regarding the aftermarket?

2012 produced mixed results. Some months were far better than others. We continue to be optimistic and believe that the aftermarket is delivering a great value that consumers will recognize for many years to come. Thus far in 2013, we are seeing normal sales increases despite strong comp numbers and competitors that are constantly improving. Consumers are trying to protect their second-largest investment and are often keeping their current vehicles rather than purchasing new ones. A key unknown variable — we are always concerned about the price of gas as it is one significant issue outside of our 36

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sphere of influence that impacts miles driven, sales and delivery expense. There are many other companies in the aftermarket that are much larger or more imposing than we are. Yet, no matter what our lot in life, we are trying to build something on it. The aftermarket is perfectly situated for many years of growth. Will we contribute to that or will our peers? We feel fortunate that our family has been focused on the aftermarket for over 84 years. How do you accommodate the commercial side of the business?

We have to admit that we do not accommodate commercial business, we live for it! The main focus of our business has always been, and will continue to be, service providers and professional technicians. Our store and warehouse teams work hard to help our customers become more successful. We strive to provide the best possible service, quality, availability, parts professionals, pricing, outside sales effort, training and overall value in the aftermarket, thereby helping our customers grow their businesses. Our goal is to consistently have the correct, high-quality parts “Out the door in 4.” Time is money, so when time counts, count on Federated. There is a French proverb — people count up the sins of those who keep them waiting. There just has to be a sense of urgency to get the job done right, certainly right now. We also rely heavily on the highest-quality name brand products that cus-

tomers prefer from premium suppliers that are our true business partners, advisers and friends. Professional technicians normally do a great job of adding knowledge, training, equipment and professionalism to offer high quality repairs at affordable prices. While some competitors have a “one-size-fits-all” model or post signs in their store saying “Do it Yourself and Save,” we are flexible in our approach to each market and yet always focus on the specific needs of professional installers. We try to “never say no.” We are constantly looking at ways to make our program more valuable and are actively listening to our professional customers for ways to improve. Due to the increasing complexity of today’s vehicles, there should be growth available in the professional service portion of the business and we are dedicated to being the very best partner possible. Our store and warehouse teams deserve the credit for our success as they are working very hard to help our customers be successful. Investing in top-notch human resources over the past 84 years, for our family, has always been essential to support customers and sustain continued growth. The key priority in 1929 remains the key priority today and yet, a business must evolve and change as it grows. Every manager must strive to consistently provide the widest possible array of programs that allows team members to improve their skills and become more efficient

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SUPER STORES and valuable to the company, including strong merit-based rewards and recognition programs. We also encourage involvement and support of the communities we serve, including our recent support of Toys for Tots. We are very proud of our team and the culture that exists at Federated, where we realize that everyone needs to attempt to continuously improve. What are your thoughts on your company’s need to enhance or grow the commercial side of the business?

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While others may look at how to increase their “commercial” business as a percentage of their total, we are focused on how to help our professional customers grow their businesses. Our customers have many options; to grow, we must be adaptable and earn their business. In addition to constantly improving and helping our customers be successful, we listen closely to their needs and provide a comprehensive approach. Darwin’s research, dinosaur’s extinction and many successful businesses prove that it isn’t the biggest or strongest that survives, it’s the most adaptable. We believe that we have a responsibility to help our customers grow their businesses in terms of sales, profits and customer satisfaction and we work to support them in whatever it takes to make that happen. We have employed new technologies including: inventory control, pricing analysis, computer software, inventory visibility, data mining, bar code scanning, enhanced catalog systems, electronic ordering and efficient information processing. An ever-increasing amount of our sales are electronically ordered through our Autoi installer link and this is growing quickly. Our overall growth, adaptable approach, and investment in new, larger and more efficient distribution centers and support sys38

February 2013 | Counterman

tems is a commitment to our customers that we will be able to overcome the challenges of competitive pressures and inventory proliferation while supporting their needs well into the future. Does the company plan store acquisitions or expansions in 2013?

We are always looking for growth opportunities when the culture, math and opportunity make sense for everyone. Fortunately, we have limited debt and are blessed with many talented people who have significantly improved our profitability in recent years. It is fun going to work every day when we have such dedicated and talented service: drivers, countermen, warehouse, sales and management teams. We strive each year to grow by at least 20 percent annually through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions which, when compounded, means that our goal is to more than double the size of the company every four years. We have exceeded our 20 percent growth goal on average in each of the past four years and we have plans to accelerate our annual growth rate to 30 percent. There is an old adage that sometimes it is better to be lucky than talented. For all of us that are lucky enough to find ourselves working with other talented people in the aftermarket, we shouldn’t take for granted that we are in one of the best business models around. Within the limits of our constraints, we are always looking for geographically contiguous acquisitions as we cannot meet our annual growth goals through organic expansion alone. We are one of the aftermarket companies whose financial strength makes investing in growth opportunities such as acquisitions, new stores, technology and new facilities an important area of focus. We find that acquisitions often bring an influx of talent, ideas and new

SUPER STORES

2013 Super Stores Updates 1. AutoZone Program Group Affiliation: none Store Count: 5,025 DC Count: 9 Private/Public Ownership: NYSE – “AZO” Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 15% commercial/ 85% retail Private Label: Duralast Store count changes in 2012: opened 193 new stores in U.S. and Mexico; closed 1

2. O’Reilly Program Group Affiliation: Parts City Store Count: 4,000 DC Count: 23 Private/Public Ownership: NASDAQ – “ORLY” Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 41% commercial/ 59% retail Private Label: several exclusive to O’Reilly Store count changes in 2012: 180 stores opened through organic growth; 56 stores acquired through VIP Parts, Tire & Service acquisition

Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 75% commercial/ 25% retail Private Label: NAPA Store count changes in 2012:

Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 70% commercial/ 30% retail Private Label: PartsMaster Store count changes in 2012: Acquired 17 locations; 5 moved, closed

6. Pep Boys Program Group Affiliation: none Store Count: 758 DC Count: 10 Private/Public Ownership: NYSE - “PBY” Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 11% commercial/ 37% retail/52% service Store count changes in 2012: 22 new

7. AutoPlus/Uni-Select Program Group Affiliation: Uni-Select Store Count: 300 Auto Plus; 160 FinishMaster locations DC Count: 25 Private/Public Ownership: TSX “UNS” Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 75% commercial/ 25% retail Private Label: Auto Plus, FinishMaster Store count changes in 2012: none

3. Advance Auto Parts

8. Fisher Auto Parts

Program Group Affiliation: none Store Count: 3,794 DC Count: 10 Private/Public Ownership: NYSE – “AAP” Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 38% commercial/ 62% retail Store count changes in 2012: Added 137 stores, including 21 Autopart International locations. Closed 5 stores. Also acquired 124 BWP locations.

Program Group Affiliation: Federated Store Count: 400+ DC Count: 15 Private/Public Ownership: private Wholesale vs. DIY sales: primarily wholesale Private Label: Federated Store count changes in 2012: added new 26 new locations including Greenfield, Brownlee and Ridge & Kramer acquisitions

4. General Parts Inc.

9. Replacement Parts Inc.

Program Group Affiliation: CARQUEST Store Count: 1,400 DC Count: 37 Private/Public Ownership: private Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 85% commercial/ 15% retail Private Label: CARQUEST Store count changes in 2012: CARQUEST will service 92 independent BWP locations not acquired by Advance.

Program Group Affiliation: Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Store Count: 160 DC Count: 3 Private/Public Ownership: private/15% ESOP Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 70% commercial/ 30% retail Private Label: PartsMaster Store count changes in 2012: none

5. Genuine Parts Co.

10. Auto-Wares

Program Group Affiliation: NAPA Store Count: 950 DC Count: 64 Private/Public Ownership: NYSE – “GPC”

Program Group Affiliation: Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Store Count: 158 DC Count: 13 Private/Public Ownership: private

11. Hahn Automotive Program Group Affiliation: Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Store Count: 80 DC Count: 31 Private/Public Ownership: private Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 80% commercial/ 20% private Private Label: PartsMaster Store count changes in 2012: opened two new stores

12. Automotive Parts Headquarters Program Group Affiliation: Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Store Count: 80 DC Count: 1 Private/Public Ownership: private/employee-owned Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 70% commercial/ 30% retail Private Label: PartsMaster Store count changes in 2012: acquired 3 new locations.

13. KOI Auto Parts Program Group Affiliation: Federated Store Count: 75 DC Count: 5 Private/Public Ownership: employee owned Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 80% commercial/ 20% retail Private Label: Federated Store count changes in 2012: none

14. Merrill Co./Arnold Motor Supply Program Group Affiliation: Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Store Count: 56 DC Count: 2 Private/Public Ownership: Partnership Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 75% commercial/ 25% retail Private Label: PartsMaster Store count changes in 2012: 4 stores acquired

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SUPER STORES product categories that helps support future growth. We are constantly investing in training (training was so important to my father), developing new programs and focusing on continuous improvement in everything we do. Donna Broome Senior Vice President, Commercial for Advance Auto Parts. How do you accommodate the commercial side of the business?

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Advance Auto Parts Professional is committed to being a partner with our commercial customers on every level — our goal is to help our commercial customers grow their businesses and to provide them with the tools they need to

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February 2013 | Counterman

best serve their customers. We accomplish that by providing quality and affordable parts and services, best-in-class customer trainings, and partnering with our customers to provide business solutions for their specific needs.

quality brands our customers need. We are also making investments in services such as nationwide warranty, online ordering and shop management systems.

What are your thoughts on your company’s need to enhance or grow the commercial side of the business?

In December 2012, Advance Auto Parts completed the acquisition of BWP Distributors. This acquisition greatly enhances Advance’s commercial footprint in the Northeast portion of the United States, and Advance will continue to operate two of BWP’s distribution centers. Advance plans to open 170 to 190 new stores in 2013, and work to integrate the 124 BWP stores we acquired at the beginning of the fiscal year, which will include the necessary investments to ensure we can get our commercial customers the parts they need, fast. CM

Advance is highly committed to the continued long-term growth of our commercial business — it is our No. 1 growth emphasis. Each year, we continue to make serious investments in commercial – including the launch of our Advance Commercial Credit program and adding new regional distribution centers. Advance continues to invest in local inventory – ensuring we can deliver even faster on the

Does the company plan store acquisitions or expansions in 2013?

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ROM THE PUBLISHER By S. Scott Shriber

How Are You Going To Stay On Top? t seems like just a few months ago, I wrote to you about a thing called telematics. I had just returned from AAPEX and SEMA and AAIA was showing the technology in the Shop of Tomorrow display. If you remember, I tried to convince you that it was coming and that we should not ignore it because it would be here before we knew it. Sound at all familiar? Probably long since forgotten. Well, guess what? In that short period of time it is here and in place. Insurance companies are using it to evaluate our driving habits (not good for us driving enthusiasts), OEs are using it to communicate with our vehicles and repair facilities are using it to retain customers. I am not writing to say I told you so, but rather just a heads-up that things are changing at an unbelievable rate. Recently, I saw a release from CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) about a driverless car. Yes, you read that correctly. Driverless car! Ok, so what or how does that affect all of us? Well, even if no one is piloting the car, someone is going to be riding in it. That means someone will be depending

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It seems that by the time a new technology is announced, I am soon finding it hanging under the dash of a rental car.

on it and need it to get places. Since it will still be a mechanical device, it will still need service and repair. Thank goodness! I bring this up to further prove that we need to be training and ready to change. We used to be able to say that we could leave that to the next generation of technicians and parts pros. Not today. It seems that by the time a new technology is announced, I am soon finding it hanging under the dash of a rental car. Think how much new stuff can come down the pike in the next five years. We have got to stay on it or get left behind. We are lucky — we have AAIA, AASA, ASA and ASE and many other partners to help us along the journey. The important thing is to buy into being a part of the journey rather than staying on the sidelines and watching it happen. We here at Counterman will be here to provide you with all the information and new technology as it comes to market. Whether you prefer print magazines, websites or our weekly newsletter, we are here to bring you all the updated product and industry news. Count on us to be at all the upcoming aftermarket events and provide you with the information you need. That’s what we do! Thanks for being a reader. Stay tuned: it will be a heck of a ride, even if no one is driving! CM

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K

EEPING IT SIMPLE By Gerald Wheelus

Make Time for Education hy spend money making training available to those who won’t take advantage of it? So often, training is available to those who really and truly need it but they won’t make the time or effort to show up. There always seems to be an excuse as to why and we’ve heard them all. Those same people would be the ones who complain about not getting the hours or the pay they think they deserve. And they’re the same ones who will not show up to a training session unless it’s during regular business hours. The biggest reason we hear is, “we are not getting paid for that.” That may be true and in some cases legitimate, but, what if you showed up anyway? Training is offered to many on many different platforms. When training is offered, we should make every effort to be able to attend that training. You have to go in with the right mindset and believe there may be something that you’ve forgotten. Sometimes, a little refresher is great. Everyone’s heard the adage that “time is money.” Will you see an immediate return on investment? Not always, but if you spend your time learning, it will translate into a better career down the road and most likely, more money. Not too long ago a business opportunity came along for my wife. That opportunity was to go to Oklahoma City and work at a booth show. When we first got there, it looked like a losing proposition. But soon, it hit me: We needed to make the most of it. Not every venture you get into is going be a “profitable” situation, at least in the short-term. But if you use that opportunity to learn and study, eventually, the education should more than make up the difference. As I get older and hopefully wiser, it becomes more evident that no one can take my experience away from me. For those of you who are serious about this profession and your career, I am certain your employer would be glad to create training and educational opportunities for you. Your version of success may be different than any other out there and that is just fine. If monetary gain is your only reason for existence, you are most likely destined for unhappiness in the auto parts world. A long and sustained career with a great deal of education can translate to a decent and steady paycheck in a stable industry. The industry is changing, it is changing rapidly and those who do not train and educate themselves will be left behind. CM

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...If you spend your time learning, it will translate into a better career down the road and most likely, more money.

Gerald Wheelus is general manager of Edgewood Auto Parts, Edgewood, Texas.

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OUNTER-TECH By Mandy Aguilar

Kickstarter Is Not A Repair You have to wonder, what if there was a website where we could tap into our industry’s collective brain trust and look for new ideas to advance our business tech know-how?

Mandy Aguilar is a regional vice president for Jacksonville, Fla.-based The Parts House.

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his holiday season, the crowdfunding website for creative projects, Kickstarter, made me take the trek from San Juan to the southern city Ponce in Puerto Rico, just to look at a tree. This is a trek I’ve made hundreds of times, on a mountain highway that connects the capital of Puerto Rico, with the southern side of the island. Back when I was a kid, we used to make the same trek as a family with mom and dad in the front seats of our Fiat 124 station wagon — no riders in the back seats. No sir, no fun-loving kid would be caught on one of those for a road trip! Kids back then rode, more like laid down, all the way in the back of the station wagon with pillows, blankets and snacks; like a picnic on wheels. No seatbelt, no rear-facing car seat, no restraints whatsoever. Kids were free to jump and roam the station wagon’s cargo area, with the rear glass door open. To pass the time there was nothing better to do than look out the window (try convincing your kids, holding an iPad today, that looking out the window is fun!) Crossing the island from north to south is still mesmerizing today. Puerto Rico gets a lot more rain in the north than the south. All of our lush, tropical rainforest scenery is located in the north, with a very clear boundary halfway through the Island, where the climate changes and the topography goes from lush green to grassy browns. This highway slices right through that boundary. The first beacon of the drier south is a grassy hill with only one tree on its top — a lonely mango tree. I’ve always felt a connection with that tree, due to the many hours spent on the back of the family’s station wagon. This tree is so present on that mountain that no one can escape its calling; as you drive by it, your eyes can’t help but look up to it.

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The years went on, I became the dad and moved to the front seats with my kids now riding, fully restrained by their seat belts, right behind me. Over the years, I have made a big deal about the tree with my kids as we drive by it and now the tree has connected with them as well. On a late Sunday this past December, we decided to go on a trip just to see the tree. It was the first time ever we all went just to look at the tree. Furthermore, we did it at night. It was a special occasion, for you see, just for a few shorts weeks this December the lonely mango tree got a lot of attention. Sometime during autumn, I saw a tweet about a group of volunteers who wanted to decorate the lonely tree with lights to turn it into a Christmas tree. Only in Puerto Rico: a mango Christmas tree! To fund their project, they turned to the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects. www.kickstarter.com Independent film makers, writers, software and product developers, entrepreneurs and many others have turned to Kickstarter to find the money needed to turn their ideas, into real products. The funding comes from site visitors like you and me. If you like a project, you can become a sponsor with a pledge, but your pledge will not be executed until the project raises it’s target funding amount. This all-or-nothing approach has made Kickstarter a very successful platform, as project designers either make their goals quickly or find little support from the start. The statistics on the projects that get funded and come to fruition are impressive. And all of this gets done on an honor system; your pledge won’t be charged until the projects raise enough pledges. The proponents are in no way mandated to actually deliver the product,

nor does Kickstarter force them to produce anything. It’s up to each pledger to determine the validity of the project, and the contribution is given with no strings attached and no expectation of a return on investment. According to the site, since its launch in 2009 “over $350 million has been pledged by more than 2.5 million people, funding more than 30,000 creative projects.” This is how the volunteers in Puerto Rico were able to raise the funds needed to buy solar lights and the mounting equipment needed to turn that Mango tree into a Christmas tree. For more information about their adventure visit their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/LightItUpArbolSolitario.

This idea of crowd-funding a project is so powerful it begs the question, “How can we use this tool to drive innovation in our own industry”? A quick search of the Kickstarter website shows not one single project for the auto parts industry. Clearly, the creative slant Kickstarter looks for does not lend itself as an incubator of ideas for auto parts innovators; but, the crowd-sourced funding model does. We all have challenges in our businesses that are screaming for a tech solution. You have to wonder, what if there was a website where we could tap into our industry’s collective brain trust and look for new ideas to advance our business tech know-how? Ironically, the Kickstarter name would have fit us to a “T.” CM

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Visit Mandy’s blog: www.mandyaguilar.com

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counterman.com 47

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LLEN & ALLAN By Allen Markowitz & Allan Gerber

Succession Planning Is Harder Than It Sounds uccession planning not only takes years of thought and planning, but also a good deal of gut-wrenching decisionmaking, for which many of us are not prepared. We see this over and over again while speaking with the younger generation at our seminars who are genuinely frustrated that there is no plan in place to continue a family business when the time is at hand. Our own business actually had a succession plan, (we owned a fivestore chain and one service center) and believe it or not, we did not execute our plan for nine years, until we felt the time was right. During all of those years we continued doing business as usual, but knew that our plan was in place. Many of us have been in the industry for a very long time. If we do not have family members who are not only interested in continuing the business, but are actually capable and motivated enough to do so, then what a better way to end our careers than a buyout by a company that can actually pay us a fair price for our years of hard work? Succession planning is not as easy as you might think; perhaps this is

S Succession planning not only takes years of thought and planning, but also a good deal of gut wrenching decision making for which many of us are not prepared.

Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber operate Auto Biz Solutions, which provides training, marketing, management and business consulting services to both the automotive jobber and independent repair shop.

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February 2013 | Counterman

why so few of us actually prepare. The initial dilemma is how to place a value on the business? What about all of that old inventory, we might feel that it is worth big bucks but I guarantee someone valuing your business may have a different point of view. Next, we have aging computer systems, beat-up vehicles and on and on. While all of these things work well in our world, they may not have much value to a suitor and may even be a liability especially if there is a cost to replace or update them. We also will have to deal with our employees (the independent’s most coveted asset): will they stay and thrive under a new regime or will they leave? And lastly, will you have a place in this new arena and for how long? None of this gets answered on the first go-around, which is why succession planning requires deep thought and internal honesty. Our goal is to bring in an unbiased view to a business as to its dollar value, staff and overall assets. The value of this outside opinion, from someone who has been there, is to assist with those gut-wrenching decisions which are so difficult to make. CM

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For more information, go to: www.autobizsolutionsllc.com or e-mail amarkowitz@autobizsolutionsllc.com.

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counterman.com/ASAP for reader service


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