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Dan Freeman Retires From APA ● Enter Guess The Car, Page 10 ● A Look At Six Sigma

March 2014

We speak to leaders to get their perspectives on the state of the

2014 for reader service for reader service


March Volume 32, No. 3

features The Super Stores By Mark Phillips

Insight from executives of the country’s top retailers ................................................................


Tech Features By Larry Carley

Maintenance aerosols perform a range of tasks. ........................................................................


13 28

Manual clutch kits will be here for years to come. ........................................................................


Oxygen, air/fuel sensors are integral parts of engine management. ............................

28 Power steering keeps things moving. ............41 Mechanic Connection


By Gary Goms

32 Wiper blades clear the way. ................................34 Heat, ozone can take a toll on mounts.


columns Editor’s Ink


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

If you’re sitting, try standing.



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

Home-grown eCommerce.

Keeping It Simple


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

Yes! Another training article.

From The Publisher


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

What’s in a name?

Allen & Allan


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

Who is the best ambassador for your business? COUNTERMAN (ISSN 0739-3695) (March 2014 Volume 32, Number 3): Copyright 2014 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 8


S. Scott Shriber 330-670-1234, ext. 229

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


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

Mark Phillips, Editor 330-670-1234, Ext. 299

Viewpoint By Tunรง Kip..............................................................



Amy Antenora, Editor, aftermarketNews Managing Editor, Counterman 330-670-1234, Ext. 220

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

Larry Carley, Technical Editor

Six Sigma is a philosophy of problem-solving.


NASCAR Performance



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

Executive interview By Mary DellaValle ..............................


Dan Freeman retires from APA.


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


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 ADVERTISING SERVICES

Tina Purnell Advertising Services Manager 330-670-1234 , Ext. 243 CIRCULATION SERVICES Pat Robinson, Circulation Manager 330-670-1234, Ext. 276 Ellen Mays, Circulation Specialist 330-670-1234, Ext. 275 DIRECTOR OF eMEDIA & AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT Brad Mitchell 330-670-1234 , Ext. 277 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 330-670-1234, ext. 217

PUBLISHER: S. Scott Shriber 330-670-1234, ext. 229

Jim Merle 330-670-1234, ext. 280

Roberto Almenar SALES REPRESENTATIVES: 330-670-1234, ext. 233 Dean Martin Glenn Warner 330-670-1234, ext. 225 330-670-1234, ext. 212

Sean Donohue 330-670-1234, ext. 206

Edward S. Babcox (1885-1970) Founder Tom B. Babcox (1919-1995) Chairman

John Zick 949-756-8835

Founded 1983. Copyright 2014 Babcox Media, Inc., All Rights Reserved

CLASSIFIED SALES: Tom Staab 330-670-1234, ext. 224

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


March 2014 | Counterman for reader service


DITOR’S INK By Mark Phillips

If You’re Sitting, Try Standing. If Standing, Do The Reverse. Whether you’re sitting at your desk at work or in front of TV or tablet, all that sitting puts undue stress and strain on joints and the inactivity turns your organs and abdominal muscles into a sloppy mess.

stand for no less than 120 minutes a day. How do I know this so precisely? An app on my computer tells me so. I recently got a standing desk at work to alleviate almost-constant sitting at my desk. (“Standing desk” is almost a misnomer; it’s more like a sitting/standing desk. I’ll tell you why shortly.) A slew of studies have shown sitting for an extended period of time (hours) is bad for your health. Whether you’re sitting at your desk at work or in front of TV or tablet, all that sitting puts undue stress and strain on joints and the inactivity turns your organs and abdominal muscles into a sloppy mess. They call sitting all day the new smoking. That app on my laptop nudges me every 45 minutes, telling me I need to stand for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes of standing, it reminds me to sit down. The standing desk that sits atop my regular desk can be adjusted up and down in seconds. As a parts professional, you might benefit from such an arrangement. Every time I visit a parts store or warehouse, I see the same thing: A counterpro who normally stands all day on concrete is taking a breather in a chair because his or her back is killing them. Or I see a counterpro whose joints are so compressed from


standing that they require surgery. Several surgeries, in fact. Show of hands: How many of you know colleagues who wear orthotic shoes? Yeah, I thought so. If you work at a warehouse call center, you’re probably sitting 8 to 10 hours a day. You may have noticed your waistline expanding. Sitting for an extended period of time slows your metabolism, puts your body into a kind of sleep mode, just like a computer. The solution to all that is to alter how you’re working. But standing all day isn’t any better than sitting all day. So that’s why standing desks move up and down. A standing desk can be bought for a few hundred dollars, which in my book, is a pittance compared to a lifetime of joint agony, orthotic shoes and spinal surgery. Headed To Taiwan In April, I’ll be headed to Taipei, Taiwan, to report on three automotive shows April 9-12 — the 2014 Taipei International Auto Parts and Accessories Show (TAIPEI AMPA); 9th Taipei International Automobile Electronics Show (AutoTronics Taipei); and the 4th Taiwan International Electric Vehicle Show (EV TAIWAN). It will be a chance to become familiar with some newto-you parts suppliers and learn what they have to offer American buyers. Counterman will be producing a special show e-newsletter that is free to anyone signed up for the regular Tuesday/Thursday Counterman e-newsletter. If you’re not already subscribed, you can do so by going to and clicking on “subscribe” in the upper right-hand corner. CM

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For more information: Twitter: @CountermanMag for reader service

AFTERMARKET NEWS O’Reilly Auto Parts Honors ASC Industries For Cataloging And Content Excellence NORTH CANTON, Ohio – ASC Industries was honored by O’Reilly Auto Parts for excellence in cataloging and content at O’Reilly’s recent annual manager’s conference in St. Louis, Mo. As O’Reilly’s supplier of new water pumps since 2006, ASC has consistently provided O’Reilly with exceptional content in a timely manner including application data, cross-references, images and ACES data. The quick turnaround of accurate data allows O’Reilly to provide the best in catalog information to their customers on a daily basis. Airtex and ASC Industries are part of the UCI-FRAM Group of companies providing fuel delivery and cooling system products to the OE and automotive aftermarket.

Epicor Eagle Honored With TMC CUSTOMER Magazine 2014 Product Of The Year Award for reader service

DUBLIN, Calif. – Epicor Software Corp. announced that TMC, a leading source of news for the technology and communications industries, has named Epicor Eagle as a 2014 CUSTOMER Product of the Year Award winner. “We are honored to be a recipient of the 2014 CUSTOMER Product of the Year Awards,” said Craig McCollum, executive vice president and general manager, retail distribution solutions for Epicor. “Our achievement stems from the success of our customers’ businesses — we are driven to provide a robust technology that retailers can use to enhance and grow their businesses. This award, highlighting the Epicor Eagle business management solution, is a testament to the value and efficiencies our customers’ experience through our technology innovations.” According to Epicor, the Eagle system is a comprehensive, affordable business management solution for small- to mid-size businesses — used by more than 8,000 retailers in industries such as automotive aftermarket, hardware and home cen-


March 2014 | Counterman

ters, lumber and building materials, pharmacies, lawn and garden centers, among others. The newest version of Epicor Eagle, released in May 2013, includes data intelligence to help businesses better manage and improve the customer experience, Epicor says.

Autopart International Recognizes Supplier Partners NORTON, Mass. – At its annual field team meeting and supplier tradeshow, Autopart International presented its 2013 Supplier of the Year Awards to the supplier partners that most actively support Autopart International’s commitment to premium parts and expert service. New Supplier of the Year was awarded to Heri Automotive in Phoenix, Ariz. Store Direct Supplier of the Year was awarded to OSC Automotive Cooling Products in Fullerton, Calif. North American Supplier of the Year was awarded to OE Quality Friction in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. for reader service


Tri-State Enterprises Chooses MAM Software’s Autopart Business Management Software ALLENTOWN, Pa. – MAM Software has announced Tri-State Enterprises, a truck accessories wholesale distributor and member of The Network, will install Autopart business management software at its locations in Fort Smith and Little Rock, Ark. Tri-State Enterprises started in 1974 as a Ford Authorized Distributor, offering Motorcraft with a line of aftermarket truck and SUV accessories. Nearly 40 years later in 2012, Tri-State’s management team decided it was time to take the business in a new direction and began executing plans to expand its offering to include aftermarket replacement parts. “The replacement parts initiative This Month’s Puzzle strained our existing business management software,” said Tristan Taylor, general operations manager. “We needed aftermarket-specific functionality, including parts lookup, better inventory management and a system that allowed for product scanning in and out.”

Guess the Car Win $100!

O’Reilly Automotive Reports Fourth-Quarter, Full-Year 2013 Results for reader service

O’Reilly Automotive has announced record revenues and earnings for its fourth quarter and full year ended Dec. 31, 2013. The results represent 21 consecutive years of comparable store sales growth and record revenue and operating income for O’Reilly since becoming a public company in April 1993. Sales for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2013, increased $133 million, or 9 percent, to $1.62 billion from $1.49 billion for the same period one year ago. Net income for the fourth quarter increased $20 million, or 15 percent, to $152 million (or 9.4 percent of sales) from $133 million (or 8.9 percent of sales) for the same period one year ago. Diluted earnings per common share for the fourth quarter increased 23 percent to $1.40 on 109 million shares versus $1.14 for the same period one year ago on 116 million shares. 10

March 2014 | Counterman

#74 What vehicle does this picture represent? If you think you know the answer, go to 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 April 3. The winner’s name will appear in the next issue. Stay tuned!

Last Month’s Correct Answer:

#73 Bentley Flying Spur Congrats to William McClure, Naples, Texas for reader service


Triangle Auto Supply Goes Live With Fuse5 YAKIMA, Wash. – Fuse5, a leading automotive aftermarket cloud platform, announced that its product has been launched by Triangle Auto Supply Co. in Yakima, Wash. Triangle Auto Supply is Yakima’s oldest family owned and operated parts store. The company has been serving Eastern Washing-

ton since 1921. In business for more than 90 years, Triangle Auto Supply is a third-generation, family owned business. “Fuse5 certainly takes us into the next century,” said Todd Degrasse, owner of Triangle Auto Supply. “From stem to stern, Fuse5 is a seamless process.”

Advance Auto Parts Reports Fiscal 2013 Comparable EPS Growth And A Return To Positive Comparable Same Store Sales In The Fourth Quarter ROANOKE, Va. – Advance Auto Parts has announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Dec. 28, 2013. Fourth-quarter comparable earnings per diluted share (EPS) were 94 cents, an increase of 6.8 percent versus the fourth quarter last year. These fourth-quarter results exclude transaction expenses of 24 cents associated with the acquisition of General Parts International Inc. (GPI) and 3 cents of integration costs associated with the integration of B.W.P. Distributors Inc. (BWP). Full-year comparable diluted EPS of $5.67, increased 8.6 percent from fiscal 2012. These full year results exclude transaction expenses of 28 cents associated with the acquisition of GPI and 7 cents of integration costs associated with the integration of BWP. for reader service

Over the Counter By Jerry King


March 2014 | Counterman

The State of the


as the vehicles have become increasingly more complicated. With that said, the trend line bet is on the commercial segment. This business model (commercial) has the legs in the business, and that is why the retailers are so focused on growing their share of that market. It is the heart of what we do and if we don’t grow it we will not be able to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. As the aftermarket experiences a metamorphosis as the installers exit the industry due to age and with no exit strategy, as the “data” becomes more prevalent in a buying decision, and as information from the Internet plays havoc with the business relationship, we will have to do business outside of the traditional market seeking those opportunities that have synergies with our core business. How do you accommodate the commercial side of the business?

We speak to the leaders of Arnold Motor Supply, Hovis Auto & Truck Supply and Uni-Select to gauge their impressions of 2014. Dave Kimbell Arnold Motor Supply What trends do you see emerging in the aftermarket?

Challenges and opportunities, especially as the market tends to flatten after a couple of good years. The survivors will have to be nimble, be proactive and better supply chain managers than they have been. Equally foreboding is data systems integration as more customers demand on-time inventory information, and profit degradation as competitive pressures put prices in a downward motion. There are some headwinds due to

parts proliferation, government meddling and finding good team members as our experienced shop owners and associates retire. The challenges are always there — a moving target — but these are also incredible opportunities for the entities that can ride these changes and be better suppliers to “the person who throws away the box.” What are your thoughts on your company’s need to enhance or grow the commercial side of the business?

What has amazed me over the years is how the cash side of the business has maintained in dollars

We have a number of sales people who call on these accounts weekly and bi-monthly establishing or enhancing their relationship with the customer. No matter what, this business still hinges on belly-tobelly selling at all levels. Does the company plan store acquisitions or expansions in 2014?

Yes if the right opportunity comes along. If you could change one thing about the automotive aftermarket, what would it be? Why?

Nothing. It has been an incredible ride creating opportunity for growth and profits; and most of all change. This is a fast-paced business and one had better not sit very long on their successes before someone runs over them. Hang on! Wait until you see what next week brings! 13

SUPERSTORES Cliff Hovis President Hovis Auto & Truck Supply What is your outlook for 2014 regarding the aftermarket?

2014 is starting off with a bang! Business picked up on the East Coast part way through 2013 and I expect it to continue with a few reservations. The car parc is larger and older than any time in history. Many of the shops we deal with are looking to expand and reinvest. Customers are embracing investment in technology and training. It appears the strong, well-run businesses are positioning themselves for the future while the weaker shops are trying to maintain their current positions which, in my opinion, means they will decline. My reservations revolve around the unknown effects of government regulations, such as Obamacare. We deal with many shops who have had their health care policies canceled and others which have had their rates doubled. Many of these shops were unpre-

pared and assumed they would not be affected due to their size. They were wrong. In particular, many automotive retailers appear to be cutting back to part-time employees with exception of their managers and maybe a parts professional. The consequences of these actions remain to be seen, but this could be a gamechanger as we get into 2014 and more companies feel the effects of increased overhead. What trends do you see emerging in the aftermarket?

I see tremendous consolidation among automotive manufacturers

and chain stores. Already this year we have seen Advance acquire CARQUEST, LKQ acquire Keystone Automotive and Remy acquire USA Industries. There is so much money pouring into our country from venture capitalists around the world looking for good investments. In addition, I see a need for training like never before. With fuel standard requirements being ratcheted up, car manufacturers are scrambling to come up with new technology to gain mileage. Safety is another area in which technology is advancing and there is a need for training. For example,

Hovis Auto & Truck Supply built a state-of-the-art training facility in Pennsylvania.

Tech Tip Causes Of Transmission Complaints By Andrew Markel Editor, Underhood Service Magazine

Non-Transmission Sensors Causing Transmission Problems Most transmission control modules use inputs from other sensors on the vehicle. If a vehicle can’t accurately calculate the load on the engine, it will adjust the line pressure and slippage to the inaccurate calculation. This can damage the transmission. Sensors used to calculate the load can include the Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF), Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) and Manifold Air Pressure (MAP). If unmetered air is entering the cylinder through a leak, the engine load will be below the actual percentage. This can cause the module to use different shift points and line pressures. This could cause the transmission to delay shifts, overheat and possibly burn the fluid. Maintenance items like a restrictive air filter, dirty air flow meter or blocked crank case ventilation system can


March 2014 | Counterman

change the calculated engine load to the point where it can influence shift points and shift quality.

Wiring Harness Problems The wiring harness and connectors on most transmissions operate in a unique environment. Normal automatic transmission fluid’s conductivity is very low. Hybrids usually have a specification for a fluid that is non-conductive. In most cases, the fluid will not damage or short the connections; the detergents and chemicals will cause the degradation of the materials in the wiring harness that might be outside of the case. Also, check for any damaged wires and connections that could be damaged by impact with road debris, weak or shifting motor mounts and hot exhaust systems. Since the mid 1990s, the grounds for solenoids and sensors have changed dramatically. Never assume the chassis ground is coming through the case or valve body. Study the wiring diagrams before trying to diagnose a dead or open solenoid. Some transmissions can have multiple ground points for the solenoids, module and sensors. for reader service

SUPERSTORES many technicians don’t realize that after doing an alignment, it is necessary to use a diagnostic tool like Delphi to reprogram factory settings for the “window pinch” sensors in some vehicles. Lawsuits can ensue when little fingers get shut in the car windows of a vehicle whose factory settings were wiped out during an alignment and not reprogrammed. What are your thoughts on your company’s need to enhance or grow the commercial side of the business?

My brother Curt and I spend a great deal of time focusing on the commercial side of our business. The industry has become highly technical and over time, the DIY side of this business has declined. As a result, it has become critical we focus on the commercial side. In this highly competitively market, we must continually bring value to our customers to retain their loyalty and gain new business. How do you accommodate the commercial side of the business?

“Service, service, service,” is what we tell our employees. If we can’t provide the service, someone else will. To us, service is not only having the right part, it is also having a system in place that allows us to know we have it and to deliver it in a timely manner. It sounds easy, but it’s not. Service separates the men from the boys. We feel very fortunate to have good-quality, long-term employees who care about serving the customer, because without them we couldn’t do it. For the past two years, we have also felt that any serious discussion of service must include a discussion on training. The trend we see for the need for training has prompted us to take serious steps to add this component to our business in a “hands on” fashion with our Technical Training Center. We 16

March 2014 | Counterman

Hovis Auto & Truck Supply partners with top suppliers to provide hands-on training.

believe, to be as productive as they can be, our customers must know how to install a part in a safe and efficient manner. Tremendous parts proliferation has also made it important for salespeople to be trained on features, benefits and general product knowledge. To accomplish this, for example, last year we had several “hands on” classes on hybrids where we taught customers about hybrid safety and maintenance. Delphi partnered with us on that project. In fact, over the course of the past year, we trained more than 1,400 technicians with partnership from manufacturers like Delphi, Federal-Mogul, Remy, Tenneco, Meritor, Four Seasons and others. Federated Auto Parts has also teamed up with us to train hundreds of our shop owners in profitability and selling. This year, we are expanding hybrid training to include first responders. In short, we have found that training benefits everyone. Partnerships like those mentioned are critical when it comes to service, but they benefit us in so many other ways. Our partnership with Federated Auto Parts provides us with resources like the Federated CoMan warehouse, extensive national marketing programs like the sponsorship of Toys for Tots and the Federated 400 at Richmond, and technological advantages such as our Federated electronic catalog, Federated ecommerce system and the Federated business intelligence systems and

inventory modeling tool. Our membership in AWDA allows us to network with other distributors, warehouses and manufacturers. Does the company plan store acquisitions or expansions in 2014?

Our salesmen have been on the road prospecting customers in new markets for some time now. This is something we consider ongoing. We do plan to add new start-up locations in 2014, but just as important to us is the prospect of expanding our current market by adding new profit centers. Currently, we distribute automotive, PB&E, crash parts, industrial, medium-duty truck, heavy-duty truck and packaged oil and commodity products, but any opportunity to become more diverse within our existing locations is desirable. If you could change one thing about the automotive aftermarket, what would it be? Why?

I would change the general perception the public has of our industry. For instance, at AAIA, we are changing our name to the “Auto Care Association.” People don’t know who or what we are and consequently, young people are not joining our industry. I am excited to be part of the AAIA Education Committee and to be working on a project to connect college students and other potential employees such as veterans with our industry. We have to take the time to sell who and what we are to the next generation.


2014 Super Stores Updates 1. AutoZone

6. Pep Boys

11. Hahn Automotive

Program Group Affiliation: none Store Count: 5,201 DC Count: 9 Private/Public Ownership: NYSE – “AZO” Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 15% commercial/ 85% retail Private Label: Duralast Store count changes in 2013: Expanded domestic store base by a net of 151 stores

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 2013: acquired 18 Service & Tire Centers, reopened 6 Supercenters and 5 Service & Tire Centers

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 2013: Acquired E&L Battery and Ignition Co. main warehouse and 8 branches

*online information obtained updated as of March 7.

*online information obtained updated as of March 7.

7. AutoPlus/Uni-Select 2. O’Reilly Program Group Affiliation: Parts City Store Count: 4,166 DC Count: 24 Private/Public Ownership: NASDAQ – “ORLY” Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 42% commercial/ 58% retail Private Label: several exclusive to O’Reilly Store count changes in 2013: 190

Program Group Affiliation: Uni-Select Store Count: 412 DC Count: 54 Private/Public Ownership: TSX “UNS” Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 75% commercial/ 25% retail Private Label: Auto Plus, FinishMaster Store count changes in 2013: closed, sold or consolidated 40 stores in 2013

8. Fisher Auto Parts 3. Advance Auto Parts Program Group Affiliation: none Store Count: 5,297 company owned stores DC Count: 10 Private/Public Ownership: NYSE – “AAP” Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 55% commercial/ 45% retail Store count changes in 2013: acquired General Parts International, including 105 WORLDPAC branches and now services approx. 1,400 independently owned CARQUEST-branded stores.

4. General Parts Inc. Program Group Affiliation: CARQUEST Store Count: 1,400 DC Count: 37 Private/Public Ownership: now part of AAP Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 85% commercial/15% retail Private Label: CARQUEST Store count changes in 2013: Acquired by Advance Auto Parts in January 2013.

5. Genuine Parts Co. Program Group Affiliation: NAPA Store Count: 950 DC Count: 58 Private/Public Ownership: NYSE – “GPC” Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 75% commercial/ 25% retail Private Label: NAPA Store count changes in 2013: Acquired Exego

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 2013: none *online information obtained updated as of March 7.

9. Replacement Parts Inc. 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 2013: none *online information obtained updated as of March 7

10. Auto-Wares Program Group Affiliation: Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Store Count: 158 DC Count: 13 Private/Public Ownership: private Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 75% commercial/ 25% retail Private Label: PartsMaster Store count changes in 2013: Consolidated 7, acquired 7, ground up 1.

*online information obtained updated as of March 7

12. Automotive Parts Headquarters Program Group Affiliation: Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Store Count: 85 DC Count: 1 Private/Public Ownership: private Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 70% commercial/ 30% retail Private Label: PartsMaster Store count changes in 2013: Two in 2013; four in 2014

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 2013: none *online information obtained updated as of March 7.

14. Merrill Co./Arnold Motor Supply Program Group Affiliation: Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Store Count: 57 DC Count: 2 Private/Public Ownership: LLP Partnership Wholesale vs. DIY sales: 75% commercial/ 25% retail Private Label: PartsMaster Store count changes in 2012: 2 stores acquired 17

SUPERSTORES Richard G. Roy President, CEO Uni-Select What is your outlook for 2014 regarding the aftermarket?

We have a very positive outlook on the aftermarket for 2014. The industry trends continue to be positive; the overall size of the aftermarket is growing, average vehicle age is increasing and the length of time consumers are holding their vehicles is growing, all of which are positive for the aftermarket. What trends do you see emerging in the aftermarket? for reader service

The primary trend we see is the growing importance of technology in the aftermarket. We recently introduced our Aftermarket Telematics solution SmartLink for our bannered installer customers across North America. This solution will connect the consumer to our shop owners in an innovative way which will drive sales and loyalty for our shops and stores. Within the wholesale channel, we have developed two technologically advanced tools — Automated eModeling will make it easier for our customers to manage their inventory on a weekly basis, and


March 2014 | Counterman

our enhanced ePricing solution will offer real-time pricing guidance to help our independent customers price for the commercial market. Both these advances will allow our Auto Plus stores to better manage their businesses. We strive to stay ahead of the curve with the evolving technology trends in the aftermarket. What are your thoughts on your company’s need to enhance or grow the commercial side of the business? How do you accommodate the commercial side of the business?

Uni-Select’s focus continues to be, as it always has been, the commercial business. Our commercial/retail mix is 90 percent commercial and our programs and solutions are focused primarily on the professional service dealer. We are the preferred partner of independent store and shop owners and our tools make it easier for them to run their businesses. Does the company plan store acquisitions or expansions in 2014?

We never specifically comment regarding our acquisition plans, however we have recently completed two acquisitions since the beginning of the year and we intend to pursue additional acquisitions in the future. CM for reader service



By Tunç Kip

The Philosophy

of Problem-Solving n many business environments, the practice of accurately defining problems falls short. We often have a hurried approach to identifying problems and presume solutions. Six Sigma, as a problem-solving methodology, seeks to increase productivity in the problem-solving arena. The system offers tools for a business to properly describe what they are going after, why they are going after it and what they expect to achieve at the end. A properly stated problem is an observation of the present state. By doing so, we can define the defect or process culminating in a defective outcome. In developing the problem statement, we provide a precise and, most importantly, measurable description of the current state based on factual evidence that is free of opinion. This combined with an accurate description of the defect serve as south marker of our compass. In Six Sigma, we accept that all information required for a concise conclusion may

I Six Sigma offers tools for a business to properly describe what they are going after, why they are going after it and what they expect to achieve at the end. for reader service

Tunç Kip is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt and business development manager for Temel Gaskets.


March 2014 | Counterman

not be immediately available.By thinking this way, we eliminate the error of assumptions. While acknowledging additional information may be required to resolve the problem, a clearly defined goal has been set through partnership with our customer. Our stated goal is nothing more than an observation of the desired state at a point in the future. This is the north marker on our compass and points us in the direction our business needs to gravitate. It’s a relief to isolate your problem. In addition to providing the tools to accurately define the project, Six Sigma also offers all the tools needed to dive deeper into the subject, create a higher-resolution picture of the current state, scientifically derive a proposed solution and even verify that solution prior to execution. The true impact of Six Sigma within an organization is only achieved when the findings from a single project turn into best practices and become a part of how the organization continuously and permanently functions. CM for reader service

MARKETPLACE › visit for reader service Wizards All Wheel & Tire Cleaner Wizards is proud to announce its new All Wheel & Tire Cleaner. Bringing the shine from the wheels up, it is a perfect addition to round out your detailing bucket. This product safely removes stubborn road grime, brake dust and general scum without staining or etching wheels. Safe on factory as well as custom wheels – polished aluminum, roughcast, uncoated, anodized, chrome, clear-coated and PVD. Wizards guarantees outstanding results on black walls, whitewalls and raised white letter tires as well. Wizards All Wheel & Tire Cleaner is non-acidic, non-caustic and biodegradable. All Wizards Products are V.O.C.compliant and made in the USA. Wizards All Wheel & Tire Cleaner is available in 22 oz. and gallon sizes.

TechSmart Releases New Import Solutions Tech Session Videos Standard Motor Products Inc. has released a TechSmart Tech Session video featuring TechSmart import solutions. Highlighting the Tech Sessions are TechSmart’s all-new, not remanufactured, electronic throttle bodies for Nissan and Infiniti, and TechSmart VVT chain tensioner kits for VW and Audi. These VVT kits include every necessary component to get the job done right. Also featured are power distribution centers for VW and Audi, an ignition coil harness repair kit, expansion tank service kits for BMW and more. The Tech Session video series is available for viewing on the TechSmart YouTube channel,, as well as on, by clicking on the video channel button.

The Best Choice – ADVICS Disc Brakes and Ultra-Premium Brake Pads The optimum control derived from ADVICS brake products assures safe and reliable vehicle performance for passenger cars and light trucks. Rotor wear can be attributed to many reasons, including the type of brake pad chosen. When replacing rotors with ADVICS Disc Brakes, it’s a good idea to also replace the brake pads with ADVICS Ultra-Premium Brake Pads. As a premier supplier of OE brake system products to well-known manufacturers such as Toyota and Lexus, ADVICS manufacturers superiorquality, performance-driven, braking components. These specifications are derived from extensive testing and engineering, including vehicle movement simulations, brake squeal and vibration analysis, dynamometer performance testing, durability assessment and in-vehicle calibration studies.


March 2014 | Counterman

CARDONE Expands Master Cylinder Coverage CARDONE Industries recently announced an expansion of its line of master cylinder SKUs to cover millions more vehicles on the road. The company now offers a total of 2,164 SKUs in its A1 CARDONE Reman Master Cylinders product lineup to cover more than 217 million vehicles.

MARKETPLACE › visit for reader service SKF Introduces Separator Filter Dryer For Pneumatic Tools And Devices SKF has expanded its air system product offering to include the Separator Filter Dryer (SFD), an air dryer ideal for providing contaminant-free air to pneumatic devices. Typical applications include point-of-use such as spray booths, workstations and air lines in service bays that use pneumatic tools. The SFD can also be mounted on small air compressors. The system is compact and easy to install, and also features accessible valves and two spin-on desiccant cartridges for easy maintenance. It uses less electrical than other air drying methods and extends service life of pneumatic devices and tools.

ContiTech Introduces Wear-Resistant Multiple V-ribbed Belt For Quiet Operation The CONTI UNIPOWER TOUGH GRIP multiple Vribbed belt with textile surface developed by the ContiTech Power Transmission Group greatly minimizes noise buildup when accessories like the air-conditioning system, power-steering pump or generators are in operation. The belt’s special feature is that the pulley side consists of a fabric reinforcement, and is highly resistant to wear. The quiet drive belt features high wear resistance that is required for starter-generator applications. “The CONTI UNIPOWER TOUGH GRIP also solves problems in other components,” said Ralf Berger, of ContiTech’s Power Transmission Group. “This multiple V-ribbed belt shows itself to be extremely sturdy when having to operate with misaligned components in the drive system.”

Penray Total Diesel Fuel System Cleaner Fuel system contamination is a year-round problem for diesel-powered vehicles, especially in commercial vehicles where downtime can be expensive and can even lead to loss of customers. Of special concern in recent years is the presence of black tar-like material in diesel fuel, commonly referred to as asphaltenes. This material can quickly clog fuel filters, fuel injectors and other critical diesel fuel system components. Fortunately, there’s a solution in Penray’s Total Diesel Fuel System Cleaner. This product is especially helpful in dissolving and preventing the formation of asphaltenes in diesel fuel, while cleaning other deposits and contaminants from the fuel system. The chemists at Penray have developed a proprietary diesel fuel system cleaner that dissolves and disperses asphaltenes and other diesel fuel contaminants. Penray Total Diesel Fuel System Cleaner attacks asphaltenes, dissolving them and removing them from fuel tanks, fuel filters, fuel injectors and lines and preventing their recurrence. 23


ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Maintenance Aerosols Perform A Range Of Tasks

aintenance aerosol products include everything from penetrating lubricants and surface protectants to various types of cleaners, glass and tire treatments. Some are universal type products with a wide range of uses while others are specialized products designed for a specific application. Take aerosol penetrating lubricants, for example. Aerosol penetrating lubricants are multi-use aerosols that can be used as light lubricants, to loosen rusty fasteners, to displace moisture and leave



March 2014 | Counterman

a protective coating that helps prevent rust and corrosion, and to even remove gunk from various surfaces. It can be used to lubricate door hinges and locks, hood and trunk latches, sliding mechanisms and cables (such as the emergency brake) or even the weatherstripping around doors and trunks. It can be sprayed on ignition wires, distributor caps and ignition coils to remove gunk and repel water (which prevents arcing and misfiring in wet, humid conditions). For more specialized applications, there are aerosol products such as rust release penetrating sprays that are faster-acting and are more aggressive than a typical multi-use product. The same goes for aerosol rust removers, aerosol corrosion inhibitors and rust preventatives. The key here is to find out what exactly your customer wants to accomplish, and to recommend the best product that meets that particular need. Aerosol silicone lubricants are popular because it is waterproof, dries fast, leaves no oily residue and is safe for use on most vinyl, plastic and rubber surfaces. You also can get white lithium grease in an aerosol can for a long-lasting metal-to-metal surface lubricant. For cleaning various kinds of surfaces, there are general pur-

pose cleaners, engine degreasers for removing heavy accumulations of grease and gunk, gasket remover for dissolving gasket residue on engine parts and electrical contact cleaner for cleaning sensitive electrical connectors and sensors (including dirty mass airflow sensors). Specialized products are available for cleaning windshields (which include those that leave a silicone layer to repel water), for removing tree sap and bug splatter, for cleaning tires, for cleaning interior upholstery and for cleaning leather. As with lubricants, you want the right product for the job. One problem area where aerosol cleaners can really help is dirty throttle bodies (and carburetors on older vehicles). Fuel varnish, carbon and dirt can build up in the throttle opening and idle control passages causing drivability and emissions problems. Cleaning the throttle body with throttle body cleaner can remove these harmful deposits and eliminate annoying drivability problems. Most of these products also can be used to clean the intake system, PCV valves and EGR valves and passages. It’s very important to read the labels on these products because there are often cautions regarding their use and safety. Aerosols that contain strong solvents may damage some types of plastics, rubbers for reader service

or painted surfaces. Most products have to meet federal and state VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) regulations, but there may be additional precautions on some products, warning users to avoid eye or skin contact, or to use only in a well ventilated area. Aerosols also are used to apply various kinds of waxes, polishes and surface protectants. There are the multi-use products for cleaning and protecting a wide variety of interior and exterior surfaces, and specialized products for leather, interior plastics, tires and rubber. Some leave a very shiny and slippery film on the surface while others are formulated to leave a non-glare finish. CM 25


ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Manual Clutch Kits Will Be Here For Years To Come ehicles with manual transmissions account for only a small segment of the overall car population (less than 6 percent), though in recent years there has been an uptick in manual sales. The fuel economy advantage that manual transmissions have traditionally had over automatics has eroded in recent years thanks to new fuel-efficient Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) and 6-, 7- and 8-speed automatics. Many younger drivers today don’t even know how to operate a manual transmission. In spite of these trends, there are still more than 15 million manual-equipped vehicles on the road that will eventually need a replacement clutch (some more than once). So manual clutch kits will be with us for many years to come. When a customer needs a new clutch, always recommend a complete clutch kit. A kit includes a clutch disc, pressure plate and release bearing that is guaranteed to fit the application. Mixing parts from different suppliers can sometimes result in mismatched components that won’t fit or cause release or engagement problems. Piecemeal clutch repairs seldom last, and the labor involved to replace individual clutch components is no more than to replace everything at the same time. Installing a complete clutch kit, therefore, can avoid additional repair expenses down the road while extending the life of the clutch system. The function of the clutch is fairly simple: it momentarily disengages the engine from the drivetrain when shifting gears and when stopping. Depressing the clutch pedal pushes the release bearing against the pressure plate. This relieves pressure on the clutch disc, allowing it to slip and disengage the engine from the transmission. After many miles and years of use, the clutch may lose its grip and slip, or fail to engage or release. Oil contamination is a common cause of clutch slippage, and is usually due to a leaky rear main crankshaft seal or leaky transmission input shaft seal. A badly worn clutch disc or a weak pressure plate can also allow the clutch to slip. In either for reader service



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case, the vehicle needs a new clutch. Any oil leaks should also be repaired before the new clutch is installed. If a clutch fails to release, the problem is often a bad master clutch cylinder, slave cylinder or hydraulic concentric release bearing. Replacing the master and slave cylinder at the same time will reduce the risk of future problems. On applications that have a concentric slave cylinder, the release bearing may be part of the slave cylinder, or a separate component. A new release bearing should be included if it is not part of the slave

cylinder. Slave cylinders may have a plastic strap that holds the cylinder in a fully compressed position. This strap must not be removed during installation. It is designed to break free the first time the clutch is engaged. On older vehicles that use a cable release mechanism, the clutch may not release if the cable is broken or misadjusted. A problem with the pivot fork that operates the release bearing can cause similar problems. Clutch noise is usually caused by a bad release bearing, but it can also be caused by a bad pilot bush-

ing in vehicles that have a pilot bushing in the back end of the crankshaft. The bushing supports the tip of the transmission input shaft. This may or may not be included in a clutch kit depending on the application. The condition of the flywheel also is important. The surface of the flywheel must be clean, smooth and flat. If rough or worn, it should be resurfaced or replaced. Some stepped flywheels and dual mass flywheels cannot be resurfaced and must be replaced if worn or defective. If cracked or damaged, replacement is the only option. CM

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ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Oxygen, Air/Fuel Sensors Are Integral Part Of Engine Management xygen sensors are a key component in the engine management system and for emissions control. The oxygen sensors provide a rich/lean signal to the powertrain control module (PCM) that indicates the balance of the air/fuel mixture. This vital bit of information is absolutely essential for good fuel economy, performance and emissions. “Downstream” oxygen sensors located in or just behind the catalytic converters also are used to monitor the efficiency of the catalyst, and to assist with long-term fuel trim.



March 2014 | Counterman

Oxygen sensor problems are a common cause of poor fuel economy as well as emission test failures. A bad oxygen sensor will typically generate lower-than-normal voltage output, and be slow to respond to rapid changes in the air/fuel mixture. This will often result in a richer-than-normal fuel mixture, which causes an increase in fuel consumption and higher tailpipe emissions. A bad oxygen sensor also may prevent the OBD II catalyst monitor from running. This can happen if a vehicle has a bad upstream or downstream O2 sensor. If the catalyst monitor doesn’t

run because of a bad O2 sensor, the vehicle will be rejected for an OBD II plug-in emissions test — and it won’t be accepted until the problem has been diagnosed and repaired. In recent years, the early-style ceramic thimble O2 sensors have been mostly replaced by ones that have a flat ceramic strip inside the tip. They work the same, but the newer “planar” O2 sensors warm up faster, respond more quickly to changes in the air/fuel mixture, and typically have a longer service life. Both “universal” and “exact replacement” versions are available for most applications. for reader service

TECH FEATURE Air/Fuel sensors (also called “wide band” O2 sensors) work differently than traditional zirconia O2 sensors. They include an “oxygen pump” and “nerst cell” that allow the sensor to provide a much more exact reading of the actual air/fuel ratio, not just a rich or lean indication as is the case with a traditional O2 sensor. Instead of generating a voltage signal, an A/F sensor modulates a reference signal from the PCM. The current signal from the A/F sensor can travel in one of two directions (positive or negative), and it gradually increases in the positive direction as the air/fuel mixture becomes leaner. At the “stoichiometric” or “lambda” point when the air/fuel mixture is perfectly balanced (14.7 to 1), the current flow in the A/F sensor circuit stops and there is no current flow


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in either direction. When the air/fuel ratio becomes progressively richer, the current reverses direction and gradually increases in the negative direction in proportion to the actual air/fuel ratio. Like ordinary thimble and planar O2 sensors, A/F sensors also have an internal heater circuit to help them reach and maintain the required internal operating temperature. A/F sensors typically operate at a higher temperature: 1,292 to 1,472 degrees F versus about 450 to 600 degrees F for ordinary O2 sensors. Consequently, if the heater circuit fails, the A/F sensor may not produce a reliable signal. This will usually set a fault code and turn on the Check Engine light. Note: The presence of an O2 sensor heater circuit code does not al-

ways mean the sensor needs to be replaced. The fault might be in the external sensor wiring, connector or heater control circuit. O2 sensor problems are one of the leading causes of emission test failures. What’s more, a bad O2 sensor (upstream or downstream) will prevent the OBD II catalyst monitor from running — which is also grounds for rejecting a vehicle for a plug-in OBD II test. The OBD II system needs good signals from both the upstream O2 or A/F sensors and downstream O2 sensors to keep tabs on the operating efficiency of the converter. It’s important to make sure a bad A/F sensor has been correctly diagnosed because the price of these sensors is usually several times more than that of a conventional O2 sensor. CM for reader service


ECHANIC CONNECTION By Gary Goms, commercial accounts editor

Heat, Ozone Take A Toll On Engine Mounts any independent shops use the slower winter months to replace worn engines, which helps maintain the shop’s cash flow and helps squeeze some extra miles from a customer’s older, but basically sound vehicle. In some cases, the replacement might be a new original equipment crate engine, a remanufactured engine or even a used engine in good condition. Regardless of the type of engine being installed, it will likely require inspection and possible replacement of all rubber components including engine mounts.


Wear And Tear Despite appearance, any rubber engine mount is a wearing or expendable part. While modern rubber components tend to endure

extreme heat much better than older compounds, engine mounts still fail when exposed to ozone (a highly reactive air pollutant) and high underhood temperatures. In most cases, rubber engine mounts will harden, which increases the engine noise and vibration transmitted through the chassis to the passenger compartment. But, when repeatedly soaked with hot engine oil, engine mounts will soften and lose their mechanical strength. Since most powertrain mounts are simply two pieces of steel laminated together by a tough rubber compound, the mount tends to separate, which can allow the engine to shift in its cradle. Engine mount separation can cause “torque-steer” on front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicles when power is applied to the drive train. In other cases, the engine might for reader service

This style of engine mount, which suspends the engine from the front timing cover area to the chassis inner fender is commonly used in front-wheel drive vehicles with transverse engines.


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simply become dislocated, which can cause exhaust leaks, sticking throttles, clutch chatter and other operational complaints. Mount Configurations Transverse engines found in frontwheel drive (FWD) applications generally suspend the engine with one large front mount and two smaller rear mounts located each corner of the engine bell housing. In some FWD applications, a “dog bone” or torque strut might be bolted between the engine and the front radiator core support to absorb engine torque. With conventional rear-wheel drive (RWD) applications, the transmission is supported by a rear transmission mount attached to a

removable frame cross member. The same type of mount can also be located between the transmission and transfer case on four-wheel drive vehicles. Unfortunately, this type of mount configuration is usually ruined by hot oil dripping from the transmission or transfer case adapter. Some applications might also use a small torque strut that helps the rear transmission mount control engine torque. Doing the Math Component accessibility is a major economic issue when repairs are performed in a commercial setting. A conventional RWD platform like a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria provides an excellent example of why

it’s cheaper to replace mounts when the engine is being replaced. One popular labor guide lists five hours for replacing both front engine mounts. Removing and replacing the engine requires 16.7 hours of shop time. Obviously, replacing the mounts in pairs will cost the owner approximately onethird as much as replacing the complete engine. But, since the engine mounts must be exchanged from the old engine to the new, replacing with new adds only the cost of the mounts to the repair order. As with any expendable lowaccess component, it’s obviously far less expensive to replace during a major engine service than at sometime after. CM

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT Federated Offers Premium Braking Performance for Today’s Vehicles Federated Auto Parts has developed an addition to its friction offering with a new co-label line developed and supplied by Wagner Brake. The new product line is a premium offering designed for professionals that was exclusively designed for Federated members and their customers. The line uses the highest performing formulas specific to each application and includes System Synergy Technology (SST) which is an OE approach to brake design that ensures the interaction of all brake components to provide the ultimate performance. Each set of Federated Professional Premium is engineered and designed to match the OE pad in fit, form and function and uses premium formulations and shims designed for ultimate performance on each application. The System Synergy Technology focuses on managing the NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) issues through testing and validation of the various components used in disc pad designs. While many consider a disc brake pad one component it actually consists of many different com-

ponents including backing plates, shims, hardware, along with friction material, slots and chamfers that all must be designed to work together to deliver ultimate performance. Working with Wagner Brake experts, Federated has developed a product line that uses OE designs and improvements in materials and component integration, to deliver superior performance to other aftermarket lines. The Federated Professional Premium line provides superior braking performance, long life and quiet operation for customers who perform premium brake service and have a reputation for using high quality brand name parts. Federated Professional Premium brake uses an OE approach to the design process that delivers the ultimate in overall performance for the professional service provider and is available exclusively from members and affiliates of Federated Auto Parts.

For more information, visit 33


ECHANIC CONNECTION By Gary Goms, commercial accounts editor

Wiper Blades Clear the Way

t’s obviously been a very cold and snowy winter for many of us, and one of the worst problems we can have is discovering that a wiper blade is starting to peel away as we’re driving down the Interstate or Expressway. Thanks to the ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight, the rubber in a wiper blade deteriorates and eventually tears when pulled loose from a frozen windshield. The best recommendation for your retail customers is to change wiper blades at least once each year and, if they drive many wintertime miles, to invest in a set of winter wiper blades equipped with rubber boots that prevent the moving parts of the blade from accumulating ice. for reader service


Continued on pg. 36 34

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MECHANIC CONNECTION Wiper Blades continued from pg. 34

When selling winter wiper blades to your retail customer, it’s important to mention ice scrapers, aerosol windshield deicing compounds and “wet” windshield cleaning tissues or aerosol cleaning compounds as an add-on sale. In my own vehicles, I usually carry an aerosol cleaner, a small package of white cleaning cloths and even a bug sponge to remove summertime bugs from exterior and dirt from the interior of the windshield. In some cases, I carry a spare set of wiper blades just in case a blade fails when I’m caught far away from home. The Wholesale Market As for your wholesale customers, it’s easy to test wiper blades in the service by turning on the windshield washers and observing how well the wiper blade removes the washer fluid from the windshield. If the blade doesn’t evenly contact the windshield as it travels over the glass, it will leave wet spots and streaks. In this case, it’s better to replace the whole blade assembly. If the blade chatters, the rubber in the blade has hardened due to excessive weathering and all that’s likely needed is a new rubber refill. And don’t forget to check the wiper mounted on the rear hatch of

A good wiper blade should feel smooth and flexible. If the blade feels rough or weathered, it should be replaced.


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Modern washer fluid reservoirs are often very well hidden. After refilling, always check for leaking reservoirs and washer pump hoses.

Complete wiper program for reader service

for passenger cars and Heavy Duty applications Unmatched trade support 38

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many SUVs. In many cases, this wiper is essential for for removing road mist drawn up from the road surface by square-backed vehicles like SUVs. Remember, too, that some rear wipers have their own reservoir and washer pump assemblies that must be serviced separately. To ensure maximum visibility, it’s also important to check the operation of the windshield washers. If one side of the washer doesn’t work, a delivery hose could be broken or a nozzle could be clogged. If the washer system completely fails to work, the problem could be a dry reservoir, bad washer pump, a blown fuse or a bad washer switch. In many cases, the reservoir has been damaged by freezing water or washer fluid, so it’s always important for a lube bay technician to check for leaks after refilling. While less expensive washer fluids work well in summer, they can actually ice the windshield over during winter time driving. For safety’s

sake, the service professional should always recommend washer fluids designed for sub-freezing winter temperatures. While we’re on the subject of wiper blades, let’s not forget about checking heated windshields and rear glass for an unusual accumulation of ice. In many cases, the windshield connections or operating mechanism has failed. While rear glass heaters are usually manually controlled, it’s important for a service bay technician to test them during any routine maintenance service. Last, it’s important for your outside sales person to recommend a basic inventory of visibility products to his service professionals. Because wiper blades and other visibility products are an on-demand item, your independent repair shop should have enough wiper blades, windshield cleaning supplies and washer fluids on hand to quickly and efficiently repair most visibility issues. CM

Track Talk NASCAR Trucks Get ShowroomSavvy Makeover for 2014 Trucks have gotten much truckier in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this year. The 2014 race truck designs have undergone the ultimate makeover – a new bodywork that more closely resembles the production vehicles they represent. “Each manufacturer has designed distinctly different trucks that they can use to promote their showroom models through their involvement with NASCAR racing,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition and racing development. “It's all about

the working relationships with the OEMs, the race teams and NASCAR to create a level playing field.” Toyota Tundras, Chevrolet Silverados and Ford F-150s have switched from the familiar, low-profile nose to much taller hoods featuring grille and headlight designs that are almost straight off the factory trucks. The new front ends give the trucks a more conventional profile than the sloped models they replace. Above all, the new race trucks have a unique design that will make it easier for

New look, same great racing: the truck body makeover means showroom-inspired models on track for Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota.

fans to recognize their favorite model. “The truck has a new look that fans can relate to with their own truck at home,” said Chad Little, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series managing director. “The competitors have been happy with the new trucks and we expect to continue to have some of the best racing in NASCAR for our fans.” Extensive research and testing went into the development of the new bodies, with the goal of continued close competition while allowing specific features from each model. The introduction of the new truck bodies follows successful launches of race vehicles in NASCAR’s other two national series – the Gen-6 car last year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the new muscle-style models in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2010. “Kudos to NASCAR for allowing us to get back to the

roots of what the trucks are supposed to look like,” said Pat Dimarco, NASCAR program manager for Ford Racing. “They have vertical grilles, and that's what trucks are.” Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, also a team owner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, appreciates the changes. “We need Ford to be able to have a truck that you can look at from the grandstands or watch on TV and say, ‘that looks like my brand new Ford F150,’” explained Keselowski. “That's important for the series and helps us keep the series healthy for a long time. The truck series is known for putting on some of the best racing. I wouldn't expect that to change one bit.” Check out the new-look trucks in person at a racetrack near you this season. Visit for the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race schedule.

Track to street: redesigned 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series trucks now more closely resemble the look of their street counterparts.

Follow NASCAR Performance on Twitter and Facebook ■


Wintertime Heater Operation Guidelines intertime heater operation presents numerous questions and problems.


Here are some guidelines for professional technicians to ensure the heating efficiency of their

customers’ vehicles when the weather turns cold. Verify coolant level and condition. If the system is low, the heater core is the first to lose coolant flow, causing a lack of heat in the passenger compartment. Old coolant can cause corrosion and scale buildup that can restrict coolant passages and reduce flow to or through the heater core.


Check the temperature of the engine coolant to see if it has reached normal operating temperature. If the engine thermostat is opening prematurely, the engine temperature may not be sufficient to heat the vehicle cabin. A scan tool can read the coolant temperature sensor, or for older vehicles, a digital pyrometer can be used for this test. Check the temperature of the thermostat housing to determine the approximate opening temperature of the thermostat. Remember, normal operating temperature will be 20 degrees to 25 degrees F higher than the temperature stamped on the thermostat.


The heater core should be checked for proper coolant flow. Simply touch both of the heater hoses at the firewall to see if they are hot to the touch. If one hose is hot and the other hose is cool to the touch, then the coolant supply to the heater core is insufficient to heat the cabin. The problem could be a closed heater control valve, a defective water pump, air in the system, coolant Continued on page 54 for reader service



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ECH FEATURE By Larry Carley, technical editor

Power Steering 101


loud squealing noise when turning at low speed is usually a slipping belt, not a bad pump. Air in the fluid can also make a pump noisy. But a steady whine, moan or growl usually indicates a failing pump. Reduced power assist, especially when a cold vehicle is first started, usually indicates wear in the control valves in the steering unit, not a bad pump. Leaks can occur anywhere in the system, including the discharge and return hoses, the pump shaft seal and the steering gear. If the pump is leaking, it needs to be replaced. The PS pump is usually mounted on the front of the engine, and is relatively simple to replace on most applications (though access may be limited with many transversemounted V6 engines). Regardless of mileage, the old fluid should always be drained from the system and replaced with new. The additives and corrosion inhibitors in old fluid is often depleted, and the fluid may contain dirt and abrasives that could damage the new pump. Most new and remanufactured power steering pump warranties require the fluid to be changed. Any leaks also should be repaired at this time. On high-mileage vehicles, both PS hoses should also be replaced along with the drive belt. On engines with serpentine belts, the automatic tension also should be inspected to make sure it is working properly and capable of maintaining proper belt tension (if not, it also needs to be replaced). The type of PS fluid that is required will vary with the application. Using a fluid that does not meet the OEM requirements may cause problems or failures, so always refer to the PS fluid requirements in the owner’s manual or service literature. CM for reader service

ydraulic power steering has been standard equipment on most vehicles for the past several decades. Rack and pinion steering usually needs power assist because it feels stiff and heavy without it. In recent years, electric power assisted steering is replacing hydraulics. Electric steering uses no fluids so there are no hoses, no pump, no leaks and no maintenance. Also, power comes from the battery and charging system rather than a belt-driven pump, so electric steering requires less horsepower from the engine (for a slight gain in fuel economy and performance). With hydraulic steering, the pump is the heart of the system. As the pump turns, it displaces fluid and generates pressure that flows though a discharge hose to the steering gear. Control valves inside the steering housing regulate how the pressure is routed to provide power assisted steering. The extra push provided by the pressurized fluid reduces steering effort, which makes turning much easier at low speeds and when parking. Less steering assist is needed at higher speeds, so many “variable assist” PS systems have a solenoid that reduces assist and increases effort as the vehicle’s speed increases. On older vehicles with “Hydroboost” power brakes, fluid pressure from the PS pump also is used to provide power-assisted braking. On some import applications, fluid from the PS pump may even be used to drive the radiator cooling fan. Power steering pumps are fairly reliable, but like any mechanical device they suffer wear over time. The pump vanes, bushings and seals and wear, resulting in noise, reduced steering assist and leaks. A 41


Interview with Dan Freeman, APA president Dan Freeman, industry veteran of 50 years, takes a look back and a look ahead. Exclusive Interview with Counterman magazine. By Mary DellaValle

Cleveland, Ohio, native, Dan Freeman’s career began in 1964 working with his father who was in the wholesale/retail tire business, leasing space in a large discount store and selling passenger and truck tires. After college, Freeman’s father asked him to become his partner and help expand the business. And expand they did, opening a second and third location. By this time, they had broadened their offering from selling only tires, to selling accessories and appearance products as well. In the late 1960s, muscle cars and high performance were all the rage, so they added speed equipment to their offering. And then, the next step was adding replacement auto parts in the 1970s. Fast-forward 50 years, and Freeman, who’s been at the helm of Automotive Parts Associates (APA) for 25 years, looks back on his storied and successful career, and looks forward to giving back to the industry in his retirement that began March 1. March begins a new era in APA’s history: Gary Martin became the third president and CEO of APA. Martin is a veteran of two decades at CARDONE Industries prior to his hire at APA in February 2013. The year-long transition is now complete.


What was your affiliation with AI Automotive in the 1980s? Was this the beginning of your career in the aftermarket? for reader service

I developed a startup company, Seagate Automotive Distribution Co. It was a private brand packaging company of replacement auto parts. The warehouse was located in downtown Cleveland and we serviced northeastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and a portion of Michigan. The concept was such that I purchased in bulk from expediters (co-man) and OE Tier One suppliers. This allowed us to purchase at pricing considerably below WD cost. Seagate was sold to AI Automotive (whose parent company was located in Kuwait; a Fortune 500 company that was privately owned by one family). We had a series of meetings to develop a strategic relationship where Seagate would supply the AI warehouses with private label products to distribute to their company-owned stores and affiliates. At this point, AI


March 2014 | Counterman for reader service


was starting to aggressively acquire large WDs, growing at fast pace. The strategy was to have Seagate become the import/export packaging arm of AI Automotive. A buy/sell agreement was executed and Seagate was renamed Resource Automotive Products, and was moved to New Orleans to supply the 26 company-owned AI warehouses and the independent Bumper-to-Bumper WDs. I headed up the project as the president of that division. Describe how your role has evolved from your early days with APA to what it is today. for reader service

In the late ‘80s, AI Automotive began selling off the warehouses and I started to look for a new challenge. In 1989, I joined Automotive Parts Associates (APA) as its national sales manager. APA had an

intriguing business concept; it wanted to develop a private brand of replacement auto parts for its member warehouses. The brand would be Quality Auto Parts and a national sales force, performing all the functions of a factory sales rep, would support the pull-though at the jobber and installer level. We negotiated a commission from the manufacturer for performing the sales function paid to Quality Sales Co., a division of APA. This became a profit center. Quality Sales Co. would train a salesperson from each member warehouse that supported the product lines and paid a commission to the warehouse. We now had a national sales rep group that made dealer calls, changeovers, handled defects and performed all facets of a national brand direct salesperson.

At this time, APA was a privately held company. In 1995, APA became member-owned and our direction changed to a more of a traditional group and the Quality Sales Co. was discontinued. In 1999, I became president and CEO of APA. With you at the helm, discuss APA’s growth through the years, and what programs, initiatives and strategies were responsible for taking the group to the next level.

We began to look for a niche, something overlooked by other groups. We discovered though our affiliation with Bosch that import specialists were ignored by the program groups because their product mix was different and they buy different brands than traditional WDs (they want to buy from the OEMs), and nobody knew how to deal with them. So, we set out to discover the needs and wants of import specialists. APA began to add the key import lines to our traditional domestic brands. At the same time, the foreign nameplates were gathering traction in vehicle sales and the brands we had recently endorsed were OE on these models. Now our members were “first-tomarket” with these brands and we now had a unique story to tell; something different to attract new members. Another factor that differentiates APA from other groups: We’ve developed an incentive trip for our members’ customers, now in our 15th year, and have had as many as 800 installers on these trips. The first week of February was APA’s Sun Splash 2014 Hawaiian Cruise. CM

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March 2014 | Counterman for reader service


OUNTER-TECH By Mandy Aguilar

Home-Grown eCommerce While these brownfield expansions have been the norm for growth for years, we still see many small independent businesses figuring out a way to grow within the confines of their own structure.

rowth through acquisitions has long been a staple of the auto parts industry. Several years ago, I heard an industry veteran talk about greenfields and brownfields as metaphors for expanding into new “green” locations or acquiring an existing “brown” location. I have tried to keep track of our industry’s preference on this, and we clearly love brown; occurring right now is perhaps the biggest brown expansion ever, as the folks from Advance Auto Parts, CARQUEST and WORLDPAC figure out a way to become one unified entity. While these brownfield expansions have been the norm for growth for years, we still see many small independent businesses figuring out a way to grow within the confines of their own structures. When we look at our customer base, we still see several of these businesses, such as jobbers and repair shops that should not be able to exist next to some of our industry’s behemoths, but somehow do (thankfully)! They are survivors, figuring out a way to differentiate themselves by presenting a unique value proposition to their customers that makes them relevant. These businesses achieve growth through several different strategies like providing a better, more personalized experience, bet-


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


March 2014 | Counterman

ter pricing, higher product knowledge, etc. Interestingly enough, a few of them have figured out how to leverage existing lowcost technology in order to stay ahead of most competitors. I have always had the utmost respect for customers who thrive in the face of competition, especially those who figure some techy way of changing their position in the market. I have a track record of supporting these businesses, and not surprisingly they have taught us a thing or two in return about how to stay relevant in the face of competition. Case in point: let’s look at a small jobber in the coastal town of Aguada on Puerto Rico’s Western coast. Just a few years ago, this jobber walked into my office and said he needed a little help translating some things for eBay. I was happy to help, but felt the whole eBay thing was way over his head. Still, we sat next to each other by my computer and plowed through his request. The customer walked away grateful for my help and told me he will soon triple his purchases from us when his “e-Commerce exploded.” Low and behold, his business started to grow quickly. Due to his sales growth on eBay, his brick and mortar business soon grew as well. A Continued on page 52

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EEPING IT SIMPLE By Gerald Wheelus

Yes! Another Training Article n Counterman magazine we preach, teach and repeat the words of training. Every month, one of our columnists preaches and teaches the importance of training. It is inevitable that I get several questions about it. However, the reoccurring theme is, (sarcastically I might add): “Now just where am I supposed to go to get that training?” I often wonder the same thing. The answer is the same each day though — do it yourself. Recently in my studies, I ran across a name that I had forgotten and had not read in many moons: Jim Rohn. Jim Rohn is best known, in self-help circles, as a wordsmith. Jim was focused on the fundamentals of human behavior that most affect personal and business performance and many believe he set the standard to which those who seek to teach and inspire should aspire to be. In my study of his works I found this quote, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” Self-Education: the Gerald Wheelus definition is get off your lazy butt and study those things which you did not understand from the day’s events. Most everyone has access to the Web, so the answers to the questions are out there. You just have to be disciplined enough to go find them. I am not naive enough to believe that everyone will make a fortune in monetary terms, however, knowledge will help to make you indispensable.

I Self-Education: the Gerald Wheelus definition is get off your lazy butt and study those things which you did not understand from the day’s events. for reader service

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


March 2014 | Counterman

One of the most frequent questions we as veterans of the parts business get is, “Why do they always ask for you?” The answer is simple, really: knowledge. The customer knows that we veterans know the answers or more importantly, where to find the answers. So much of what we do simply cannot be formally taught in a classroom. We have to learn things as we go. We go through our antiquated books that we are so anal about keeping, we call other store managers, store personnel, the tech line on the back of that book or we go through YouTube for an educational video or use the Internet to search what others are doing to solve problems. John Rohn left this earth leaving us quotations that we can use not only in everyday life, but business as well: Skills: Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges; wish for more wisdom. Growth: Don’t join an easy crowd. You won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform and achieve are high. Change: We generally change ourselves for one of two reasons: inspiration or desperation. Activity: The few who do are the envy of the many who watch. Success: Success is what you attract by the person you become. Everyone who is serious about the parts business now knows the secret to training — self-education, right? No single person can teach you the ins and outs of our chosen profession however, you can be the difference in you own life. My favorite saying to my kids is this: “You are the only person you can control.” Now, educational opportunities are all around you. We carry a computer in our pockets that has all the answers to all our questions. We really have no more excuses for not having been trained in our jobs. CM for reader service

COUNTER-TECH Continued from page 46 few months later, he came back saying he needed help with shipping parts directly to his customers. Me, shipping to your customers? I guess we both trusted each other (or were both dumb enough to try just about anything to sell more parts). Without either of us knowing it at the time, we were both embarking in a home-grown fulfillment business that resembles the elaborate set-ups we find today at many e-Commerce giants. Together, we figured out that if we just shipped his orders directly to his customers we could increase speed-to-market while improving his level of service. We were wellversed at shipping to our own customers, so adding his orders created very little additional work for our guys. So the actual workflow of shipping the parts was easy

— what we really needed was a way to automate the process while eliminating points of friction. That’s when he realized that all the data we needed was being generated by his payment process company: PayPal. You see, every transaction he had from eBay was paid by a customer using PayPal. PayPal is a worldwide e-Commerce business that connects buyers and sellers through processing payments and money transfers made online. Every time a payment is processed the buyer and seller exchange data, such as invoices, shipping info, product descriptions and more. All the data we needed to fulfill his orders was already on the PayPal transaction file. We engaged each other using this data and instantly, an automated e-Commerce fulfillment platform was born that, to this day,

generates thousands of dollars in monthly sales. Our customer holds less inventory, we never spent a penny on software development by using PayPal’s own tools, and he is now selling parts all over the world out of his little store in Aguada. Oh, and yes, he did triple his purchases from us! When I look back at this little home-grown experiment, it fills me with hope that businesses, and moreso business owners, will find a way to survive if they tap into existing technology. In this case, PayPal’s platform was key in exchanging not only the funds to pay for the transactions, but the data for channel partners to efficiently engage their business (all with zero software developing cost). Tools like this will ensure survival for all who are ready to pursue them. CM

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March 2014 | Counterman



By S. Scott Shriber

What’s In A Name? ebster’s defines a name as: a word or phrase that constitutes the distinctive designation of a person or thing. Seems simple enough. It’s what we get called or what we call ourselves. Hopefully, it’s something instantly recognizable. Over time, names tend to go in and out of favor and new ones are created. I think we have seen much of that over the past 10 years or so. Recently, we here at Babcox Media were fortunate enough to have Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), along with Richard White of AAIA, in to discuss some very exciting news for our industry. The AAIA is becoming the Auto Care Association. Obviously absent from the new name is the word “aftermarket.” The term aftermarket has been around this business for a long time. The trouble is, for those outside our industry, it is very confusing. It really does not define what goes on here or the magnitude of our industry’s importance. Why do we care what people outside our world think of us? Because many things, including Washington, affect our day-to-day activities and our livelihoods. AAIA recently represented our industry in the landmark Right to Repair decision that will allow all of us to compete on a level playing field. The Be Car Care Aware initiative is another effort to bring our industry into the public eye while stressing the

W The AAIA is becoming the Auto Care Association.

importance of vehicle maintenance. We are a vital part of our country’s individual transportation independence and it needs to be protected on a regular basis. Another reason to keep the auto care industry at the forefront is to constantly attract qualified workers to jobs in our sector. It is estimated that at any given time, we have 300,000 jobs that need to be filled in our space. Those jobs vary in scope from highly trained skilled to professionals and everything in-between. We need the best and brightest to be interested in our space to ensure we stay competitive and jobs stay here. Changing a name on paper is a very straightforward action. Changing a perception of an industry at the same time is a tremendous undertaking. Please visit to find out more about this initiative and all that is going on to support this great industry of ours. CM ■ ■ ■

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Heater continued from page 40 system restriction or a clogged heater core. If both heater hoses feel equally hot, then the most likely problem is the temperature blend door not allowing air to pass over the heater core. Follow the manufacturer’s procedure to test and adjust the blend door. Another problem that could occur is a bypassing heater core. Some core designs have a separator plate in the tank between the two pipe fittings. The separator plate can erode away, allowing coolant to flow from the inlet pipe to the outlet pipe without passing through the core. for reader service



March 2014 | Counterman

If an air pocket develops in the heater core, coolant will not circulate through the core. Check the manufacturer’s recommended air bleeding procedure. The technicians also may be able to bleed the air from the system by using a cooling system pressure tester to lightly pressurize the cooling system. Loosen one of the clamps and hose at the heater core but do not remove the hose. Lightly pressurize the coolant system, allowing the trapped air to leave the system via the loosened hose. When coolant starts to leak from the heater core fitting, re-tighten the clamp.


At times the heater core may have a buildup of sediment, which interferes with its ability to be a heat exchange unit. Flush the core and re-test.


Remember, an 85 degrees to 100 degrees F increase from ambient temperature is the normal operating range of the heater. If the ambient temperature is zero degrees, then the expected duct temperature should be about 90 degrees F.


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LLEN & ALLAN By Allen Markowitz & Allan Gerber

Who Is The Best Ambassador For Your Business? oday, we hear about and experience poor customer service and the occasional bad attitude in many business sectors, whether it is a grumpy ticket-taker at the local movie theater or a salesperson exhibiting an unnecessary attitude when asked a simple question. Although this may not be evident in every transaction, it is noticeable in today’s business climate. We have recently noticed a trend of companies re-evaluating their customer service policies with an eye toward improving the overall customer shopping experience. You can tell when things have changed in a business or new training has been given simply by the way you are treated. So who plays the most important role/ is the best ambassador for your organization? We would expect the president/CEO/ owner to be the absolute ambassador for our company and arguably, this is generally the case. But how many daily customers does this person actually come in contact with? Usually not that many, as their role is to run the company. How about our outside sales rep? This person comes into contact with customers all day long. Our sales rep should have the training to be polite and courteous as they navigate through each customer’s needs. It certainly is not easy dealing with the never-ending issues in today’s competitive marketplace. However, our sales rep can only see the customer once every week or two so this contact is sporadic at best. As a counter professional, we certainly speak to our customers all day long. Many times we will speak with the same customer multiple times a day. When was the last time we had a booster shot for our communication skills? Sometimes this is necessary

T You can tell when things have changed in a business or new training has been given simply by the way you are treated.

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.


March 2014 | Counterman

in today’s digital workplace. Counter professionals are right on the front lines of dealing with the customer. Many of us have been doing this extremely well for many years and are excellent ambassadors for our business, but the business and customers are changing. Let’s move on to our delivery people — the hot shot and route drivers. These people see our customers every day, often many times every day. Unfortunately, at times, they are the ones who get (and take) the fire from a customer, especially when delivering a part that is incorrect. Do they have the training to handle this? Most delivery personnel are trained in the basics — to check that the order is complete, verify the delivery route is correct and the basic knowledge of how to fill out a return slip. I do not belittle this job at all. I actually feel this is where an opportunity lies to show our customers just how good we are. These are the company ambassadors who our customers directly interact with face-toface every day. Our delivery personnel can actually make, break or improve the relationship with our customer. How many times is a phone call negative about a driver? They brought the wrong parts, did not have any return slips in the truck, were simply rude or did not care? Perhaps a bit of training regarding company expectations would alleviate some of these issues. So where does this leave us with regard to the ambassadors of our company? If you have not figured it out by now, every person in every role plays their part in representing the business. No single player is so important that we can overlook the rest. Being in business is a team effort. CM

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Counterman, March 2014